The Stand Up Paddle Guide to Florida by Seychelle

Florida

With its hundreds of miles of beaches in the southeasternmost part of the United States, Florida is a stand-up paddler, ocean paddler, or foiler dream destination. The fact that it is surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, means you have plenty of choice of conditions, spots, schools for all types of watersport activities! 2019 SUP Race APP World Champion and SIC Maui team athlete Seychelle Рa Floridian born and raised Рgives us some inside knowledge on where to go and what to do in Florida on paddling or foiling trip!

Hello Seychelle, can you introduce yourself and your SUP background?

Hello! My name is Seychelle. I prefer to just go by Seychelle, one name, like a rockstar! ūüėú

I am originally¬†from Key Largo, Florida and currently reside in Melbourne Beach, Florida on the East coast. I grew up playing soccer and running and always dreamed of being a professional athlete. After high school, I¬†took off on a sailboat headed around the world and spent the next 8 years sailing and working on boats in¬†different places all around the world. I discovered SUP in 2014 when I moved back home to the Florida Keys and was immediately¬†hooked on the sport. I started teaching SUP Yoga classes and training to compete in races. I won the first race I ever entered and decided to pursue a career in paddling. Soon after I earned the Guinness World record for longest distance paddled on SUP in 24 hours which sparked my passion for long-distance racing. Through several years of hard work, dedication, setbacks, and loads of personal development, I climbed¬†my way up to the top of the¬†women’s¬†world rankings and in 2019¬†won the title of APP World champion. My other passions include health and nutrition and living my best life. I currently work¬†as a professional¬†SUP athlete and online health coach helping women achieve their best life through optimum¬†health.

 

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What is your relationship with Florida?

I was born and raised in the Florida Keys which is a chain of islands extending off the southernmost tip of the state of Florida. The Keys are a unique place with a laidback island vibe that thrive on visitors coming down to enjoy the warm weather and warm water temperatures year-round. When I first started paddling I was living in Key Largo, the very first island in the chain. About 3 years ago I moved to Melbourne¬†Beach, Florida which is about 1/2 way up the East coast. I moved in order to learn how to surf. One thing folks don’t realize about Florida is how large of a state it is and how diverse the sea conditions can be when you travel from place to place. Florida is over 450miles (720klm) long, with a coastline of 1,350miles. (2170klm) The East coast gets waves and surf from the Atlantic¬†Ocean, the Southern tip of Florida is totally flat and protected by a barrier reef that extends 350miles from Martin county to the Dry Tortugas. The West Coast can get occasional¬†wind swell from the Gulf of Mexico, but for the most part, enjoys shallower depths and warmer water temperatures. Then there are many rivers, lakes, and crystal clear freshwater¬†springs to explore and enjoy as well!

What are the weather conditions throughout the year?

Again, Florida is a large state, larger than many European countries. The weather conditions can be quite different from the North to the South. In general, the summers are very HOT and very humid. Temperatures often reach above 90¬įF with the humidity over 90% as well. It can be oppressive¬†when you are not in or on the water. The summer is also the rainy¬†season and hurricane season with afternoon thunderstorms an almost¬†daily occurrence. We don’t really have a defined Spring or Fall. These are short periods in between summer and winter where the temperatures slightly rise or fall and we call them the “shoulder seasons.”

Winter has more ideal paddling weather with average daily high temperatures near 70¬įF and humidity around 70% as well. Winters are the¬†dry season as well as the windier season.

 

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What are the best spots for SUP race training, SUP surfing, and Downwinding?

You can train for SUP racing anywhere in Florida. There is so much water in this state, beaches, rivers, Intercoastal waterways, lakes, and springs! The highest concentration of SUP racers live in Southeast Florida, although there are active pockets of racers all over the state. For SUP surfing you definitely want to be on the Central East coast which receives the highest average number of swell days per year. For downwinding, I am not sure where the best place is. We don’t really get good Ocean swell for downwind conditions in this state. We do get good near shore conditions in Miami and the Keys and good river conditions, on the intercoastal waterways on the east coast.

Florida has a great SUP race series called the Fastest in Florida which takes a points system from many of the top races around the state and combines them into one title. In Florida we race year round with the majority of the races being in the spring and fall when the weather is the most cooperative.

What’s your quiver and why?

I paddle SIC Maui boards. I love the quality and performance of the boards, and versatility and diversity of the equipment SIC offers.  My favorite raceboard of all time is the RS. The RS is my go-to training and racing board. For SUP surfing I use the Slice Pro. For longboard surfing, I use the Swindler. For SUP Yoga I use the Tao airglide (inflatable). When friends and family come to visit I put them on my Tao Surf as it is beginner-friendly in all conditions.

 

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What and when are the main watersports events in Florida?

Some of the biggest and longest-standing SUP races in Florida are the¬†Key West Paddle Classic, typically held the weekend after Carolina Cup each year. The Orange Bowl Paddle Championships in Miami and the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis in West Palm Beach, this event is an epic crossing from the Bahamas back to Florida and raises money for Cystic Fibrosis charity every year.¬†The Palm Beach Paddle Fest in Jupiter, The Space Race in Melbourne, The Lake Mary Jane race in Orlando, The Florida Cup in St. Petersburg,¬†and the Flora-Bama Paddle Championships in the “Panhandle”,¬†the northernmost part of the state.

 

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Where would you rent your SUP gear or take classes?

Florida is so large, where to rent depends largely on what town or area you visit. Before you book your trip to Florida do some research on the local paddle scene where you are staying. Look for a reputable paddle shop in the area. Some of my favorite shops are Paddle the Florida Keys in Islamorada, Florida and Paddling Paradise in Palm Bay, Florida.

I offer private SUP lessons where I live in Melbourne Beach, Florida. For more info about this or any of my coaching you can visit my website seychellesup.com

And as a tourist, what things to do and places to see in Florida would you recommend?

I would recommend a trip to the Florida Keys. Paddle in the mangroves or out to the coral reef. I would recommend a trip to the central part of the state to paddle on the Crystal River or Weeki Wachee springs. You can watch a rocket launch from Florida’s Space coast, or enjoy epic sunset paddles on Florida’s Gulf Coast. There are no bad choices when it comes to visiting Florida.

More information about SIC Maui: https://sicmaui.com

To follow Seychelle: https://www.instagram.com/seychellesup/

About the Author

Laura

I am a student in an engineering school and also passionate about water sports. I'm a swimmer first, but I discovered Stand Up Paddle in 2019, I was hooked. Today I mix boardsports (surfing, SUP, canoe) with my passion for swimming by doing SwimRun.

To follow Laura:

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