Meet Jane Paddler: Meredith Brandt, Washington, D.C.

Where you were born and where you live now?

I was born in Pennsylvania and have lived in Washington, DC for about 10 years.

What is your occupation?

I’m an advocate for marginalized groups of people, current working in communications.

Where do you SUP the most?

I paddle the most in DC and our “local” beaches in Maryland.

Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?

East of Maui in Annapolis, MD is my closest go-to board shop. The owners, Mark and Mark, are super knowledgeable and great ambassadors for the sport.

What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?

Lately I’ve been paddling my new (to me) 404. I continue to upgrade as new technology comes out, but have paddled Boardworks M&M and Speedboard in the past.

Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?

I have SUPs for different types of paddling. I ride a 10’0 Blue Planet SUP for surfing and sometimes teaching classes, and I ride a Badfish IRS to catch river waves.

What paddle do you use?

I’m in love with Hippostick paddles, particularly the Al Pro. No other paddle I use has a release quite like it. But, I also use an amazingly light carbon ZRE for long distance paddling.


Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?

I’m always trying new technology when it comes to boards and paddles. It’s fun to evolve as the sport evolves. But, I do have my favorites, and Hippostick is one of ’em.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?

I lived in West Africa for a short period of time and have been wanting to go back. Paddling there would feel epic.

Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve met a lot of great SUP ambassadors over the years, and it’s so hard to choose the best piece of advice. I think my favorite, and one that I like to share with beginners, is to never feel pressured to follow the SUP crowd. One of the best things about SUP is that you can be active with it in so many different ways. Whatever type of paddling gives you biggest cheeseball grin is the best type of paddling for you!

Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?

I’ve seen a lot of unexpected wildlife paddling in the DC area. The strangest have been a deer in the middle of the Potomac river near downtown DC and a beaver in a nearby canal, slapping its tail at me.

Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)

When I’m racing or out for a long paddle I probably sweat more than most people I know. Good ole H20 is key for me. I even started wearing hydration packs for short (3 to 5 mile) races. As I’ve upped my mileage, training for Chattajack in particular, I’ve started to introduce electrolytes into the mix.

Goals for this next year?

My biggest goal for the year is to compete in Chattajack. Success for me at that race means finishing it. I never thought I’d paddle, let alone race, for 31 miles. I’d also like to explore other waterways and travel to new races.

Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)

Beer or carbs, or a combination of both.

Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.

I love getting outdoors. It’s why I like SUP so much. So, anything that gets me into nature and connecting with people in a non-traditional DC way. Paddling has turned me into a bit of an adventure junkie, so snowboarding in the winter is probably my other favorite.

What piece of SUP gear do you wish someone would invent?

I haven’t found anything that can keep the sweat out of my eyes or keep my long hair out of my way, particularly when racing or training. Anyone have any recommendations?

What’s your biggest challenge with SUP?

My biggest challenge is finding the time to devote to training for races. It’s hard to stay competitive when your 9 to 5 is pretty demanding. I think most people would agree! Paddling’s addictive, man.

What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?

My proudest and most embarrassing moments are wrapped into one ocean race. I completely failed at my first attempt at this race in 2014. Not only did I place dead last, but I wrecked myself (and my board) at both the beginning of the race and the end. I came back the next year to try to conquer the race on my surf board and I ended up placing first in my category. I risked my race board for a third attempt this year and placed fourth. I’m happy I overcame my fear of this race (and my embarrassment). Never give up a second (or third!) chance!


Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.

DC’s a really transient city and I started paddling during a time when a lot of my friends were moving on and I was looking for a new outlet and way to meet people. Boy, did it provide! I’ve made a lot of good friends through SUP and have introduced friends to the world of paddling, too. SUP provides something for everyone, which is what makes it such an accessible sport.



What was your best SUP travel trip?

I haven’t done a lot of SUP traveling (which is why it’s one of my goals for the next year!), but the DC area has some amazing paddling destinations of its own. In my own backyard I have some really great whitewater access, so if you count a 20 minute drive as “travel,” then I’ve got to say paddling anywhere in Mather Gorge below Great Falls. (Shoutout to the Rvr2Rvr girls for getting me into my first big wave there and to Heather Jackson for the photo below.)