It seems appropriate that this Made the Mullet is Jason Hjelseth seeing that it’s Chattajack week and, incidentally his birthday (yesterday). Jason’s hilarious and if there’s one person I can count on to post something funny, paddling related or not, it’s Jason. I can also count on him showing up to paddle wherever and whenever his Tennessee crew makes the call. Jason’s primarily a surfski paddler, tearing up the rivers and lakes on a Nelo 560, but also paddles SUP and OC. He’s been spotted repeatedly on the green dragon. It’s real. Mostly, he’s just one of those key paddlers that brings life to the water, which is why he Made the Mullet. Happy belated birthday, buddy.
Where is your favorite place to paddle?
I love being on the water anywhere really, especially if you throw some bumps to catch in the scenario. I definitely paddle most on my home waters around Chattyland, more specifically the Tennessee River. My core group uses the launch at Coolidge Park, more often than not, the views of downtown are stunning, and you can do a host of different paddles depending upon the wind and current.
Photo of your crew and/or where you paddle
What is your favorite event and why?
Being from Chattanooga, Chattajack 31 without a doubt. Ben and Kim Friberg have developed a vibe in that event that is amazing, the Ohana it brings from near and far is incredible, and for being such a brutal race I think it speaks to it’s testament how many people return each year. I have to admit my close second is another Friberg based race, the Chattanooga Paddle Race Series held during the summers, is where I got my start in racing, met some of my now closest friends, and fell head over heels in love with paddle sports! I love Chattanooga!
What is your favorite paddling moment and why?
Crossing the line at last years Chattajack 17′, I was originally registered in 14′ SUP class, but in April was invited by Theo Burn to join him on his OC-2 (The Green Dragon). We put so much work in, training in all different manner of craft, he got me started in Marathon Canoe, Surf ski, OC… I drank the Koolaid with pleasure! When all that training payed off to stand on the podium for third, especially for his belt buckle year… it was amazingly special!
Do you have a bucket list event?
All of them… Seriously, that’s how it feels! If I had to really narrow it down, I would most definitely start with M2O, M2M, The Doctor, The Gorge… Since I’ve gotten in the bucket of a ski, I have quickly become a downwind fanatic, I can’t see a news story about a storm without starting to salivate, I may need to seek professional help. lol
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for the water, for my insanely awesome and understanding wife Dawn, my father Joel who got me into SUP in the first place, Theo for being amazing and teaching me most of what I know about paddling, and the Ohana I have made since starting this obsession!
Advice or tips for paddlers?
Register for a race if you haven’t already! I know racing is not for everyone, and the thought of putting yourself against all those fast people is intimidating, but once you get to the event and start meeting the people that make up the field of competitors, hear them cheering you on during the race even though they just met you, even if you feel like you are going to die at the end… once you cross that finish line and look back (okay sometimes it takes a little more reflection), but it’s hard to look back with anything but fondness in my experience. The people are the best part, I’ve come to realize that paddlers are about the best of humanity, like nothing any other competitive sport attracts, just being around so many great people are why I go to half of the races I do!