Tahitian and 425 Pro ambassador Heilani Cronsteadt and 425 Pro ambassador is well known for her performances in prone boarding. But thanks to her husband (a certain Georges Cronsteadt), Heilani crossed over to SUP and today, she cannot stop. Heilani opens up to TotalSUP about her life as a paddler, mum and vahine (“woman” in Tahitian).
Hello Heilani, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your passion for watersports?
Ia ora na (“hello” in Tahitian). I was born in Tahiti and grew up in Papara on the west coast of the island, in a house close to the sea. In our family our days began and ended in the water! I met Georges Cronsteadt at school, and since then we have been inseparable. At 24 we started a family and now we have 2 boys aged 11 and 8. We are now based in peaceful Mataiea, a town removed from the city, with so little stress sometimes I feel that time has stopped, it feels so good. We are close to nature and surrounded by people with whom we share the same values and passions!
My passion for watersports started when I was little, my father would take me to surf in Taharu’u with him, a local spot in Papara, I think that’s when I became hooked! At times I had to swim hard to avoid being carried away by the current. Then when I was 9 years old my maternal grandfather, Papy Michel, introduced me to free diving. By the time I was 13 I had learned to control my breathing and not to panic at 30 meters depth. This really helped me especially my husband started to take me surfing in extreme conditions.
Before in Tahiti we still had the opportunity to do Va’a (canoe) and sailing at school, so from an early age we are conditioned by paddling and surfing, it’s kind of inevitable here in French Polynesia that these activities fill our lives. It is pretty much a daily ritual, but it’s also part of our culture, our history and our heritage.
I am a into everything, SUP in downwind and in surf, prone paddle boarding, va’a, OC, longboard. Board sports are my primary passion and I am fortunate to have an expert on the subject that is my soul mate, Georges. Though at times it is a little too disciplined, serious, hard sometimes but always right, and that’s what works in terms of performance.
I love getting out on his equipment, it makes me feel great especially when I am moving fast and in motion. My family life is great, but sometimes managing and organising his life is not easy. Also since I started participating in local and international competitions I feel that I am motivating other women like me to join in, and hopefully pass on “good vibes” through challenges. Hopefully it will really motivate others because we all have this energy and we just have to find our way. I feel we are all capable of reaching our goals, no matter what they are, goals that are achieved through hard work, a love of what you do, and finally the ability to share your experiences so that later all our little girls become strong, brave and humble and proud to be a VAHINE!
Describe your perfect day?
The perfect day is to get up in the morning with the smell of hot black coffee prepared by my husband, we then share our breakfast with the children, drop them at school, to do some paperwork, to do my SUP or proneboard training, normally from pass to Mataiea pass. We then stop at a little surf spot take a few waves, then go see some friends and eat some fresh coconut. After this my mind is rested and ready to continue my day. However no 2 days are the same!
Some days are not that simple but that is common, but it is the life that we chose to live. It is hard to juggle things, life a couple, as a family, provide for the needs of children, take care of those who we love, so much to manage, invest in projects, people, make good or bad choices. We’ve all been there but I think that in the end we always do well when we like to share, without expecting anything in return the just a smile. In my opinion it is better when we all work together.
My goal for this year is to have the opportunity to participate and represent Tahiti at the world championships in Prone Paddle Board either in Portugal or in Brazil. I am working hard to achieve this and cross my fingers I will be there!
Which 425Pro boards do you use? For prone and SUP paddling?
I use the 425 pro Prone Paddle board with dimensions of 12ft x 20″. This board is super light especially in the surf, it reacts immediately to chop and really glides. The board really handles all your movements by maintaining a steady pace, the board is really at the top end. I have had some great victories, it has always me led to victory and new performance with every use and in all conditions.
In the Carolina Cup Money Island race that I won, I used the Outlaw that was 23″ wide, it had a super feeling. I had very limited experience in SUP racing, but I found it very stable especially when I was paddling in a headwind and sidewind. I chose to paddle with a 425 Pro size S paddle this was super light and I loved paddling with it!
What are your future plans?
In the future I want to continue to share the passion for our children with Georges and continue to instil values in their lives. I look forward to sharing all our life moments with others in our lives. We will continue our respect for the sea and hope to paddle for a long time to come.
I would like to continue to be involved in the local community to protect our environment, so that our children and future generations will still have a sea to play in and to fish from, or at least the sea will be preserved. In Polynesia and Tahiti many families still live by fishing.
Finally I would like to continue to promote the Vahiné in the paddling world through 425 pro who have really support our family a lot. This can be done by creating local events and Vahine training camps, hopefully I can motivate women to join the movement or just feel alive!
This year I also to compete internationally in some SUP races I have my eye on the next will be the Columbia Gorge in the USA!
What are you doing to stay in shape when you’re not in the water?
I spend a lot of time walking in the outdoors and in nature with my children: the gardens of Vaipahi with its 2 loops is great. I also do a short 40-minute body-building session coached by Mr Cronsteadt. I also visit the Vaima’s natural spring which refreshes my body and mind. I enjoy running with my children who often follow me on a bike to encourage me and sometimes I must take evasive action to avoid collisions! I like to mountain bike or walk to the side of the blue lake Vaihiria with my little family on weekends! Oh yes and I like to practice yoga and finally I like to make crowns of flowers which I find relaxing.
To finish I would like to thank you for this article because thanks to you, but also to my family and all the people who believe in us, women, I can finally share my way of life and I really hope that I can motivate more women to do really what makes them happy.
Today women are super busy, we are OVERBOOKERS, in our hectic lives we sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed! Sport or physical activity can really help to channel and dispel this energy, the contact with the water is magical, especially in Tahiti. So, everyone please do not hesitate and if you have the opportunity to come here, it will be a pleasure to see you all soon!