Joe Paddler Mike Womack
Where you were born and where you live now?
Born in West Monroe, LA. Reside in Nesbit, MS outside of Memphis, TN
What is your occupation?
Creative Director/Graphic Designer
Where do you paddle the most?
I have a small lake in my neighborhood where I do most of my training but when I can get out, I like to paddle the Wolf River.
Do you have a favorite local paddle shop?
Outdoors Inc. is our local shop. They put on a fun, short race on the Mississippi in downtown Memphis every year.
What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?
Butt boater- Stellar S18R
Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?
The garage is full of whitewater kayaks, rec kayaks, tandem sea kayak… I even have the very first boat I bought 35 years ago. A Mohawk marathon canoe, the thing weighs a ton but it’s still a fast hull.
What paddle do you use?
Epic wing for racing, an AT bent shaft for touring, and a Werner straight shaft for whitewater.
Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?
I started canoe racing when I was 16. I discovered whitewater when I was 29. I started kayak racing at 49. Who knows, I might be on a SUP by the time I reach 70.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?
That’s a hard question for someone who likes several disciplines of paddling. Hmmm… I’ve always wanted to paddle in Costa Rica. Whitewater in the jungles in the morning, ocean paddling in a longboat in the evenings.
Best piece of paddling advice you’ve ever received?
Upright is alright.
Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?
Took a group of Cub Scouts and their fathers to the Spring River in Arkansas. Unbeknownst to me, it has become the Mardi Gras of rivers. Around every bend there was a girl showing her breasts for beads. Hard to paddle and cover a 10-year-old’s eyes at the same time. I don’t know if that’s weird but it sure was funny.
Favorite performance/paddling nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)
Anything over 15 miles, I like to have a GU packet and a Spark energy drink.
Goals for this year?
Many personal health goals, mainly get pain free. Race goals-make more races. And finish ChattaJack under five hours.
Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)
What’cha got???? I’m not picky, I’ll devour dang near anything after a race.
Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.
As a graphic designer, I like to combine my love of paddling with my profession. I’ve gotten to work with a few whitewater boat companies and lately have been helping with races such as ChattaJack.
What piece of paddling gear do you wish someone would invent?
A non-chafing backband!
What’s your biggest challenge with paddling?
When I started racing, I was extremely out of shape. I am still struggling to get my body and my stamina where I want it to be.
What is your proudest moment in a race or event?
In March I finished 3rd in my division at Battle on the Bayou in Ocean Springs, MS. In April, I finished 2nd in my division at BluzCruz in Vicksburg, MS. In December, I had a heart attack. Training has become a big part of my recovery.
Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.
Living in the Memphis area and trying to be a whitewater boater means you’re going to spend a lot of hours in a vehicle. I created lifetime friends on those trips. And seeing the same people who share the same passion at races is awesome. Everyone is super-friendly.
What was your best paddling travel trip?
Let’s see, 16 days kaying the Colorado through the Grand Canyon…no,no,no… a week paddling in Alaska while staying at Kayaker’s Cove…no,no,no… paddling the springs of Florida during winter break with my family…no,no,no… one of the many whitewater trips with my buddies… too many to choose from.
Where can people contact you for design and photography work?