John Gabriel, The Man Who Stand Up Paddles With Dolphins… Everyday!
John Gabriel and TotalSUP is an instagram friendship story really. Posting dozens of SoCal “SUP with Dolphins” photos and videos and wearing a Barça shirt (spanish soccer team) was more than enough to convince us that this huge SUP aficionado should be the TotalSUP voice in the California state. Welcome on board John! Here is his ID scan!
Hello John. Can you kindly introduce yourself to the TotalSUP community?
My name is John Gabriel and I am a 26 year old teacher and coach currently residing in Long Beach, California. I grew up in West Nyack, New York, but always had the desire to relocate West once I finished up with my undergraduate degree. I moved out in January of 2013 to study and coach lacrosse at Whittier College, a great opportunity offered to me by friend and local SUPer, Brian Kelly. I bought my first stand up board in the spring of 2013 (an 8’6 that I thought was a 10’6 for about 3 months) and never looked back.
What type of paddler are you?
As of now, my favorite parts about stand up paddling have to be racing and surfing. I love the training aspect that comes with racing and of course race day. I am starting to love surfing more and more, as I keep learning from long beach local surf bum Sean Slimak, who has plenty of style to show if your ever around Seal or Sunset beach in North OC. I do love touring as well. Some of my best training comes from tours out to the infamous oil rigs that can be seen from most southern california beaches. Out there is where you are really tested both mentally and physically, and can have a ton of fun if well prepared.
What’s your SUP quiver? Are you sponsored by any brand?
I currently race on a 14′ 404/Riviera Zeedonk and a 12’6″ Lahui-kai JM model. I also have a ZEM 8’6 SUP Surf as well as a Jimmy Styks 10’6 inflatable, that gets thrown in the trunk for trips up north. I am not sponsored by any brand, as I have a lot more to prove on the water for that to become an option.
What is it like living and SUPing in SoCal? What is your home spot? Who’s your SUP gang?
Living in Socal is truely awesome. I am fortunate to live in a SUP hotspot, where the sport is growing at a rapid pace filled with some really competitive and fun races. I do a majority of my paddling in Long Beach and Seal Beach, but love to venture up and down the coast to check out all of California’s beauty. I do a lot of my paddling and training with Rich D’Souza, Sean Slimak, Brian Kelly and Dr. Shawn Tierney.
You are known among SUP instagramers for posting lots of videos and pics paddling with dolphins. How easy is it to find them in your area?
I am lucky enough to live super close to the water, so when I’m off from work I will usually wake up and drink a cup of coffee on the beach before my paddle. If I see some dolphins, I’ll grab my board and paddle out to them and start my training a little earlier than planned. Sometimes they will pop up if were out touring somewhere off-shore too. Most of the time dolphins are curious and will come check us out. If they don’t, they were probably already focused on moving elsewhere. If you catch them on the move and can keep up, they will usually let you cruise with them!
Check out John Gabriel’s latest SUP Dolphin adventures in Long Beach, California: