Days like today – Women’s Equality Day – is a great reminder of how far women have come when it comes to being treated equally and provided the same privileges as our male counterparts. But as we all know, this wasn’t handed to women on a silver platter, nor are we at the point where we can say that the mission has been accomplished. The efforts towards full equality for women continue.
However, over the years, women have become more and more empowered. Regardless of industry, women continue to break barriers, make their voices heard and let their talents shine, letting the other half of the world population know that this is no longer a “man’s world”.
The world of standup paddling is no exception. Female paddlers are becoming fearless. They are determined to hone their craft, training regularly and taking on the challenge to become stronger, better versions of themselves in whatever water and weather condition, dispelling the stereotype that only men can be masters of this sport.
While many female athletes fall into this category, only a few carry the torch. They are women who lead by examples to inspire the rest of us, and remind us that, while women aren’t considered fully equal to men just yet, we ARE making progress–the five fearless females of SUP who give us hope:
Tanvi Jagadish, The Standout SUPer
Growing up in a culture where showing a little bit of skin is frowned upon, Tanvi Jagadish faced many familial and societal hurdles that almost prevented her from getting on a board. But with drive and determination (and a little help from her mentor April Zilg), Tanvi broke barriers to pursue something she loved, becoming the first Indian female standup paddler, and placing podium in various national-level SUP championships and SUP surf pro competitions since her debut in 2015.
Three years later, now 18 years of age, Tanvi continues to spend time on the water, training hard for upcoming international SUP and surf competitions to represent India, her eye is on the ISA World Championship happening in China in November. Outside of paddling, she incorporates as part of her fitness regimen “basketball and football, practicing yoga and meditation in the surf ashram where I train.”
When not training, Tanvi teaches at SUP camps for kids “to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful sport.” She also volunteers at beach cleanups through the Surfing Swami Foundation “to help people become more aware of how important it is to take care of the ocean and our Mother Earth.”
Her favorite places to paddle? She said, “It would have to be my own hometown, Mulki. But I love Bali, Denmark, Singapore, USA, and Fiji, too!”
Bri Andrassy, The Adventuring Angler
Bri Andrassy decided to marry her love for paddling to her love for fishing, and put SUP fishing on the map. An already-avid angler of the South Florida reefs, she decided to bring a paddleboard to a fishing excursion one day to be able to take a break from swimming, and has since developed many concepts “that maximizes the use of a paddleboard while fishing”, some of which have been used by big-name brands including BIC SUP. She can also be seen as one of the hosts of Facing Waves, a paddling TV series aired on Fox Sports and the Nautical Channel.
But what is it about the SUP fishing experience that got Bri hooked? She said, “Paddle fishing is a unique way to catch fish. The fight is unreal. You anchor, hook up, and feel the paddleboard move slightly towards the fighting fish and then your drag takes over. Words can’t do the experience justice–you may just have to try it for yourself!”
Her favorite spots to fish? “I fish inshore primarily, and I really enjoy fishing docks with the SUP. It’s easier than trying to use a boat to fish docks and since it’s so quiet there’s a great element of surprise. My favorite lobstering spots are in the [Florida] Keys. I have paddled for miles out there and have found some great holes.”
When not on a board or holding a fishing pole, Bri surfs with Surfers with Autism, teaches undergraduate at a Florida university, and spends time “enjoying life with my husband, friends and family.”
Julia Kaffka & Anja Mörk, The Paddling Pair
It was “love at first stroke” for Julia Kaffka and Anja Mörk when they were first introduced to standup paddling at a family outing on Lake Wörthsee one day. Now, they are Girls on SUPs, a paddling pair of journalists from Germany, exploring the world on paddleboards and, through their stories and photos, inspiring us all to go on our own paddling adventures.
But what inspires Julia and Anja to keep getting on their board? Anja said, “To see people SUPing with whales, people exploring Antarctica on their SUPs, or people who do races and long-distance paddles. [It shows you that] nothing is impossible.” Julia added, “The beautiful pictures we see [on Instagram] from around the world. [They inspire us to] spend more and more time on the water.”
When asked their favorite place to paddle, Anja and Julia responded in unison, “Lake Eibsee.” Anja provided more context, “The view is breathtaking, and the water is crystal clear with the most beautiful colors. It’s about 1.5 hours drive from where we live, and we try to go there as often as we can. The only sad thing is that it freezes for several months a year, so we are always looking forward to spring.”
What advice would they give someone interested in paddling who has never done it before? Julia said, “Enjoy the landscape around you – on a SUP, it’s a completely new point of view. And make sure take someone with you to share this beautiful experience with.”
Jade Howson, The Rising SUPerstar
Laguna Beach native Jade Howson has been climbing the SUP racing world rankings since she entered the scene in 2011. Today, Jade is ranked among the fastest female racers in the world – finishing top three in many of the toughest race courses – putting her, as of today, 17th overall fastest female at only the age of 16.
Her love for standup paddling is deep-rooted, beginning at the age of 7 when she would get on a paddleboard to “explore the local coves and learn the ways of the ocean” with her family. Encouraged by her father and supported by the rest of her family, Jade competed two years later in her first race, The Battle of the Paddle, and dominated in her age division. Her love for the sport, including the perks and challenges it brings, has grown exponentially since her then.
Jade has no plans of ending her pro-paddling career anytime soon; in fact, this is just the beginning for this rising SUPerstar. She continues to rigorously train and compete, most recently finishing 10th in the women’s elite division at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, all while still attending high school and getting good grades. Swimming, surfing on her high school surf team, and playing the ukulele keep her busy the remainder of her time.
The words she lives by? “Train hard, play harder, and enjoy life!”