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16-year old Jojo Karst joins the Blackfish Paddles Team

Blackfish Paddles has just announced the new addition of Jojo Karst to their SUP Riders Team. The sixteen year old SUP athlete from Germany has recently caught the media attention at the EUROSUP 2023 Championships in Portugal (4th in the Junior Long Distance Race) where she kept paddling in tough conditions despite losing her paddle and being injured, demonstrating what SUP riders are made of – true grit and pure stoke!

“We are very excited to welcome Jojo the Blackfish Team. Jojo’s smile and love of paddling is infectious and she shares our Team’s deep love of the water. As a brand we are keen to help develop the next generation of paddlers and provide them with the equipment and support needed so they can pursue their athletic goals,” said David Smart, Founder of Blackfish Paddles, Canadian SUP brand developing of high-performance, handcrafted SUP paddles. “Jojo’s recent performances have shown both her paddling strength and her depth of character. Despite a tough race at the European Championships and taking a solid knock on the head, her smile never faded. We look forward to working with Jojo in the years to come – welcome to Blackfish Jojo!”

TotalSUP caught up with Jojo (full name Josephina) and her father and Coach, Michael Karst, to talk about the Blackfish announcement and their upcoming plans.

Hi Jojo, welcome to TotalSUP and congratulations on joining the Blackfish Paddles Team! How did you discover the sport of stand-up paddleboarding and when did you decide to start competing?

A friend of our family bought a board at a supermarket and we tried it a few times. My father decided to also buy a board and we had a lot of fun on the water! In the fifth grade there were two girls in my class who already competed and they invited me to join them for some paddle training. After this training, where I had a lot of fun with my friends, I decided to compete as well! After a some time I met Tanja Ecker, she and my dad have done a lot for my training and for me getting forward.

Which Blackfish paddle are you most excited about?

I’m really excited of the Salish 460. I tried it after a race and loved the enormous power coming out of this little blade.

You seem unstoppable and always with a big smile no matter how hard the race is and how gnarly the conditions are. We have to bring up the EuroSUP2023 – First off, congratulations on your long distance podium! Second of all – What happened on that beach in Portugal during the technical race!?!

Well, at the first lap in the technical race me and Kathrin Bergmann unfortunately had a little crash and we both fell off our boards. The girl behind me also dropped and the next wave just took her board forward and it hit my head and I got a little cut. I also lost my paddle and someone found it on the beach 100 m away from the race track and they gave it to me hand by hand, so I got disqualified because of that. Sure I would have loved to bring the race to an end but it is what it is, and I wasn’t seriously injured.

What are your favourite SUP racing formats?

My favourite SUP racing format is the Technical and the Open Water race. I love beach starts and the action at the buoys.

Your most epic SUP experience to date?

Definitely the Tech and Long-Distance Race in Portugal! The waves were so high and there were just crazy conditions during the long distance and tech races, beside of my little crash, it was just crazy! I’ve never paddled in such conditions before, but I really loved it. It was a lot of fun!

Photo by Miguel Sacramento

Who inspires you in the world of stand-up paddleboarding?

I have a lot of athletes that inspire me! I love Fiona Wylde’s lifestyle because she lives this water woman lifestyle which is so cool! Also, Esperanza Barreras because she is such a tough and strong woman and Caroline Küntzel, I love here paddle style and here commitment to the sport! There are many more strong girls paddling whose technique I love to see and try copying!

School, training, friends…How do you stay motivated to train and compete?

I have really cool friends who keep me motivated and help me! I can turn to them in every situation. My best friend is sometimes prouder of my successes than me! I really have to plan my day through, but it works, I have to do other things than paddling in my free time to clear my mind. I love playing the guitar, drawing and meeting my friends. This stuff keeps my mind in balance. There is a lot of time concentrating on training, but I love that all and do that out of my own will.

Your top tips for aspiring SUP racers?

Don’t loose the fun, set real targets and keep on smiling!

Photo by Andy Klotz Photography

>>>

Hi Michael, welcome to TotalSUP and congratulations on joining the Blackfish Team! Could you tell us about your watersport background and how did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?

Hi, thank you for having me. I’m not as often interviewed as my daughter, so it is a great honour for me. I’ve been into watersports since I was as a young student, starting to surf in France and had a lot of fun. But then the difficulties of a landlocked surfer caught up with me, I became a father of two wonderful kids and concentrated on mountain sports such as mountain biking, skiing, climbing and mountaineering for several years, because I really had fun doing that and it was easier to stay in touch with my young family and to be active together with them.
Jojo came home from school one day and told me about a club in our hometown, where they’ve already practiced SUP as a racing sport. We had a look and this is how we got here.

Michael Karst with his weapon of choice – Blackfish Viento

Could you tell us about your collaboration with Blackfish Paddles? How did you come across the brand?

I had Blackfish Paddles on my radar for some time, first because of some very interesting young athletes, such as Vaïc Garioud. During the Bavarian Waters Pilsensee this Summer, we fortunately had the chance to test all paddles and were immediately fascinated with the performance of these quite small blades.

What are your Blackfish Paddles of choice?

I go for Nootka, Andaman 580 and Viento 520.

How is the SUP racing scene developing in Germany especially when it comes to junior division?

There was a really hard break through the COVID-19 pandemic, it was especially hard for many youth athletes finding it difficult to stay motivated.

Meanwhile there are a lot of young male paddlers who develop very strong skills and get faster and faster. On the girl side, there are still unfortunately just a few really motivated paddlers, and there is a lot of work to do.

Unfortunately the support from the canoe and surf associations is very small for our sport in Germany which makes it more difficult for many families to manage everything. We will have to learn to work together to make stand-up paddlebaording a strong sport discipline again in Germany.

Could you tell us more about Jojo’s SUP journey from your perspective? When and how did you recognise her potential to start competing?

Jojo is one of the lucky kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. Training with her club was not possible so I began to take her out for training. As I have some experience in youth training through other sports I saw her developing quite fast. This was the time when we made SUP a  family thing.

The first races after that difficult time showed her potential which was brought to my attention by experienced paddlers. One of them was Tanja Ecker who has been looking after her for the past few years and we are very grateful for it.

After that we founded the Super SUP Raceteam in Ingolstadt, where five young paddlers train on land, compete together. We’ve already won some German and Bavarian titles and everybody on the team has their own interesting journey.

As a Coach, what do you focus on in SUP training? What’s the key to becoming a versatile pro SUP athlete?

It think a good youth trainer has to find the balance between really hard work and a really big amount of fun. A young athlete who has no fun at most of the training sessions and races will not progress in any sport. Sure there has to be some discipline and structure in training that requires a lot of energy and concentration. A big part of it is the personal motivation of the paddlers and it needs a kind of art brought in by the trainer to find the right way to motivate young athletes as they are all individuals.

What’s in the SUP pipeline?

GlaGla should be on our timetable in January. We are really looking forward to the next season with a camp at Susanne Lier’s Watermen Performance Center in Fuerteventura, before getting back to races as early as possible.

Thanks to everybody for believing in Jojo and all the other young paddlers out there! Let’s help them take their chances and follow their dreams, not everybody can stand on the top of the podium, but becoming a fair and respectful sportsman is a great goal itself in a young paddler’s life!

Well said! Thank you both for your time and once again congratulations – We’ll be looking out for you in the 2024!

To find out more about Blackfish Paddles and their progressive, refined, handcrafted designs, visit blackfishpaddles.com

Explore Blackfish new fin range here  

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Follow Jojo Karst on Instagram 

*Images courtesy of Michael and Jojo Karst

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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