Jane Paddler Tracee Van Brunt
Where you were born and where you live now?
I was born on the south shore of Long Island in a town called Sayville. From there I went on to school in Wilmington, NC, then to live on the East End of Long Island, and more currently I am in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
What is your occupation?
I am an English to Speakers of Other Langauges (ESOL) Teacher and Spanish Teacher. In the summer I teach paddleboard lessons with the Wandering Paddler, a small awesome local paddle company
Tell us about your charity
I am currently fundraising for the Plummer Youth Promise, a youth orphanage in Salem, Massachusetts, for their event Paddle for Plummer 2017. It is an awesome event that directly benefits the youth of New England. Their slogan “Family for Everyone” motivates their programming and constantly pushes them towards providing stability and support for every child that they serve.
Where do you paddle the most?
I paddle mostly in the Piscataqua River or the Atlantic Ocean right here in Portsmouth, NH. It is a beautiful colonial landscape set in a beautiful waterway. There are small uninhabited islands you can paddle up to for a break or a sandwich and you can often spot nesting bald eagles high up in the trees.
Do you have a favorite local paddle shop?
My favorite local surf shop is Cinnamon Rainbows in Hampton, New Hampshire. I had a brand new paddle board arrive with a ding last year and they fixed it up for me in under a week. They are always extremely helpful and I actually got my newest board there, used, for an awesome deal. The guys there are really knowledgable and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?
For races and training I use my 12’6 Bark Contender
Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?
I also have a 12’6 BOTE Traveller and a Surftech SUP surfboard. Both boards have a special place in my heart as the BOTE board was the first board I attempted to race on before I realized it was a lot heavier than everyone else’s boards, and the Surftech was my first SUP in general.
What paddle do you use?
I am currently trying out 27 degree North’s Elite Carbon Paddle (small)
Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?
When I first started, I really just wanted to get into some races but I didn’t know how much I was going to love them. Because of that, I chose the BOTE Traveller so that it could also serve as a solid board for excursions and loading on equipment, coolers, etc. Unfortunately, I found that it was a little too heavy for my small frame and I wasn’t strong enough to really compete with a board of this weight. Because of that, I switched to the Bark and it suits me and my body much better. When I first started I also had an extremely heavy paddle. I have been extremely happy switching to the lighter carbon paddle. I don’t even know how I used to do it!
If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?
I love exploring new places and, therefore, anywhere new would do. I have really enjoyed the past few years exploring some of the lakes and ponds here in New Hampshire and all the beauty that the Northeast of the United States has to offer. As for the winter, I wouldn’t mind exploring some more tropical destinations, although its a lot of fun to suit up in a full suit, booties, gloves, and maybe even a hood in plummeting temperatures. It makes you feel like a complete bad ass.
Best piece of paddling advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s not the paddle. It’s you.” I decided a long time ago to stop making excuses for my shortcomings and to push myself to train harder and to be stronger. I understand it is on me to succeed!
Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?
One time when paddling with a beginner, the weather switched on us and we couldn’t get back to our starting point safely. We were forced to get out of the water near a local historical site. Not having our phones and clad only in bikinis and bare feet, we had to approach the senior citizens working inside for a land line. They were super nice and even offered to give us a tour in our bathing suits until our ride showed up. I guess that is one way to explore historical Portsmouth!
Favorite performance/paddling nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)
Nutrition is extremely important to me. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I try to be really smart about my nutrition. Before races, I try not to overly carb load or do anything that my body is not used to. I try to maintain a healthy diet at all times incorporating a lot of veggies and lean proteins while avoiding too much sugar, salt, and processed foods. During a short race, I try to wake up early enough to eat a decent breakfast that leaves me feeling satisfied. I have also learned the importance of my hydration as well. Hydrating well a couple of days before my race, and maintaining hydration the morning of/during is crucial for my success.
Goals for this year?
This year I am really focusing on stepping up my game in the racing world. I worked hard all winter to strength train and increase my endurance and I am having fun so far this season testing out my increased capabilities. By this time next year I would like to leave the comfort of the local New England races and head to some of the bigger races such as the Carolina Cup.
Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)
Tacos: all day everyday
Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.
I love hiking in the mountains and exploring the Presidential Chain of New Hampshire. They are simply stunning.
What piece of paddling gear do you wish someone would invent?
I am not sure! I try to keep it simple. Board, paddle, leash, and pfd, and I am off. No gadgets. No music. Just me and the sea.
What’s your biggest challenge with paddling?
Making time to paddle after work and hoping that the wind and tide are in my favor is difficult while school is still in session. It greatly limits the frequency and amount of time that I can spend on the water.
What is your proudest moment in a race or event?
Placing second place at the Essex River Race 5.5+ miler this year in a pretty strong head wind. It made me feel like that perhaps all my work this winter was really paying off. I had missed the “podium” by just seconds at my last race last year and I realized I needed to make some changes. My first paddle paddle race was a great moment as well. Finishing a 6 mile race in rather rough seas was an amazing accomplishment and kicked off a love-love relationship with racing my board.
Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.
I love sharing paddling with others. I have converted two of my friends into paddlers and I am super excited when they can get on the water with me. I also love seeing familiar faces at races and all of the women up here tend to cheer each other on and support one another on race day which is awesome.
What was your best paddling travel trip?
I took about 12 of my student paddling at the end of the school year. It was awesome. None of them had ever paddled before and they absolutely loved it. Portsmouth Paddle Co. hooked us up with boards and paddles. It was an amazing experience to be able to share a sport I love so much with my students.