Editor’s Note: Seacoast Paddleboard Club’s Paddler Profile Series highlights the different personalities that make our paddling community so great! If you would like to be featured, please complete this profile.

Where Are You From (Hometown)?

Rye, New Hampshire

How long have you been paddling? How did you get started?

I have been a paddler since 1991, when at ten years old I got my start paddling a 9′ plastic kayak. “If water had friction, you would grind the bottom right off that boat” my dad would always say. I fell in love with paddlesports early on and gradually worked my way through a fleet of increasingly technical boats, earning my “stars” as a British Canoe Union certified paddler at 21, and a Licensed Maine Guide in the discipline of Open Ocean paddling by 22. I went on to guide and teach sea kayaking in the seacoast area and in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, as well as to complete a 3 1/2 month self-supported expedition in Alaska with my then fiancee, Jeff. We have used sea kayaks as a mode of travel and recreation to paddle every inch of the Maine and NH coast, often disappearing for weeks at a time during the summer to island hop and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

I entered the world of SUP paddling during the particularly flat summer of 2010. I am also a surfer, and due to the lack of waves, I was looking for something to do. I found a used board, which was rare in 2010, at Cinnamon Rainbows, and purchased it, thinking it would be great for cruising around and having another way to access the water. Over time, I started taking it on longer and longer paddles, and started playing with it in the surf in Rye on smaller summer days.

As with many expensive hobbies, the gear evolution progressed quickly. I got a taste of long distance SUP when my husband bought his first 12’6 board. About a year later, when he decided to step up to a 14′, marital negotiations ensued, and like any outdoor-sports couple worth their salt, we negotiated that the 14′ could join the quiver if I could have the 12’6.

SUP rapidly became my favorite cross training tool while I trained for ultra-distance cycling events, because it put me on my first love, the water and kept my core and upper body strong. In 2017, I had the opportunity to paddle in the IOS invitational in the midst of a full cycling season, and loved the energy and camaraderie surrounding the event.

Following a two year hiatus from training to recover from cycling injuries and overtraining syndrome, I am entering spring of 2020 cautiously ready to train again. This time around, I am planning to leave the road bike behind in favor of returning to the water as a venue to engage in my passion for endurance sports and pursuing a more sustainable training plan supported by having my nutrition dialed in, whole-food supplements, and increased attention to rest and recovery.

Where is Your Favorite Place to Paddle and Why?

Locally, I love to circumnavigate Gerrish, Cutts, and Newcastle Islands. Sometimes separately, sometimes all together! I love that when you paddle in this area, you truly get a little bit of everything from back channel, to open Piscataqua, to the ocean, to quiet marshes.

Describe your favorite paddle boarding memory.

My favorite paddleboarding memory was an evening surf session during a sizeable hurricane swell. I paddled out on my friend’s 9’0 fish shape sup with a quad fin setup just to “try it out” and see how I liked it. I got the snot beat out of me that night, but also got some of the most “light your hair on fire” SUP surf rides I had ever had. That night I told him if he ever wanted to sell the board, to give me a call. It took two years of convincing, but eventually that board joined the quiver too!

Do you have a favorite board? What is it and why do you love it?

My favorite board isn’t a SUP, it’s a prone surfboard. It is a Hannon “Holiday” shaped in Montauk in 1967. It is a monster of a 10′ longboard with a glass-on fin and a painted flower pattern competition stripe. It was a 10 year anniversary gift from my husband – gentlemen, take notes.

She’s not right for all conditions, and she doesn’t rip down the line on big days, but she fits my favorite way to surf: gentle, graceful, fluid longboarding. Most of all, I love the Holiday because she has soul. In the two years I’ve been surfing her, I have had countless strangers approach me in lineups and parking lots come to ask “where did you get that?” and then settle in to talk story of the buddy they had who used to own it back in the 70’s or the time they borrowed it from a friend. This board has circulated around New England and been ridden by lots of different surfers, and has come to me to continue her next leg of her journey.

Do you have a favorite paddle board event? What is it and why is it your favorite?

My favorite paddle boarding events are the ones that have yet to happen. Looking forward to the positive challenges, adventures, and ways to connect with community that events create helps to keep me motivated and focused on reaching for the next version of myself as a paddler. What am I looking forward to, you might wonder? I have my eye on the Blackburn and the Chattajack. As I heal from cycling injuries, my goal is to re-enter the world of endurance sports, and transfer my knowledge and experience with long-haul suffering into SUP.

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

You bet I have. My progression looked like this:
2010: Takayama Ali’ii 3 10’7 Surf SUP: purchased originally to cruise and play recreationally, ended up learning to surf it like my longboards.
2015: Coreban Sonic 12’6″: I wanted to paddle longer distances, and this was a convenient hand me down from my husband who stepped up to a 14′
2016: Coreban Fish 9’0″: because my friend was selling it and I wanted to SUP in bigger waves
2018: ONE Edge 2.0 14’0″: because the 12’6″ wasn’t cutting it in rougher water and I wanted to paddle longer distances more efficiently
2019: Starboard All Star 14’0″: because marriage means “my board is your board” I paddle my husband’s quite often as well, depending on conditions and mood.

Paddles: the theme here is “shorter and smaller”

Started with a Werner Nitro, 75″ for cruising and surf
Sawyer Carbon 75″, found it super flexible
Werner Grand Prix 86, 75″, cut to 70.5″
Black Project Hydro XS medium flex at 71″ seems to be “just right” for now

Do you have any advice to new paddlers?

When we are just getting started paddling, we often approach the water and our equipment by trying to make it bend to our will. This leads to a stiff body. Relax! Don’t fight the water, it’s bigger than you, and it will have its way every time. Go with the flow. Let the water move you but don’t let it boss you around. Adjust your rhythm to match what the water is doing and let it be your partner.

Accept that you’re going to fall in and push yourself enough that you do crash from time to time. Even the best paddlers swim. It can be cold, it can be inconvenient, but if you get comfortable with it and break down your fear of falling in, you’ll find that you can push your edge more consistently and that your body and your board can do so much more than you give them credit for.

Practice where you want to paddle and paddle where you practice. All the board handling skills in the world won’t do you much good if you can only execute them on a glassy day.

Safety is incredibly important. Familiarize yourself with boating laws and learn to navigate. We live in an area that can get squirrely in a hurry: we have strong tides, funky currents, and areas that drain out at low water. Have your PFD, leash, and appropriate clothing if you end up in the water. Know your strengths and your limitations, be humble, and make conservative choices.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Find more experienced paddlers and tap into their wisdom. More often than not, you’ll get more than you bargained for and a friend in the process.

What do you like most about SPC?

I love the opportunities for connection, community, and friendship that SPC provides. Meeting others locally who share similar interests can be hard for folks to do in isolation, but SPC provides group paddling opportunities multiple times a week, plus lots of social media presence to keep the good vibes going through the winter.

SPC attracts people in all age brackets and of all abilities. I feel like I can always find someone to paddle with who has similar goals, whether I feel like paddling to enjoy the day and chat, or going out to paddle hard. I everyone is always kind, welcoming, and willing to lend a hand, trade boards, lend a piece of forgotten equipment, or offer advice.

How do you get involved with the community? What charities or causes do you support? Do You belong to a non-profit group?

I am involved with the local cycling community through Gus’ bike shop, have run SAU16’s ski club for the past 11 years, and am involved with the Maine Island Trail Association and the Star Island Docents.

What is your favorite non-paddle thing to do?

If not paddling, other interests include surfing, mountain biking, telemark skiing, skate skiing, gardening, and woodworking. I also enjoy chronicling and processing my adventures and musings on being a strong but vulnerable female athlete through my blog, beabadlass.wordpress.com.