Polish SUP power duo returns for the Planet Baltic 2023 win: Interview with Julia and Dawid Kuleta

As racers, Coaches, Polish SUP Champs and sport ambassadors, Julia and Dawid Kuleta combine the experience of two SUP cultures – Polish and English. They are also one of the very few power couples in our sport, training and competing together. With a solid track record on SUP racing scenes both in Poland and the UK, they are ready for their next challenge – Planet Baltic SUP Race held on the 4-6 August in KoĹ‚obrzeg. 

TotalSUP caught up with Julia and Dawid ahead of the country’s longest running ocean race, to chat about the event, their ambitions and what it’s like to be together, train together and compete together.

Photo by: Georgia Schofield / ICF Worlds Gdynia

Hi Julia & Dawid, welcome to TotalSUP! Could you tell us more about your watersport background and how did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?

Julia: Hi, thanks for having us here! My journey with SUP has started a few years ago. I generally love water so on any occasion I would seek watersports activities. Unfortunately, it was always a holiday thing. But the moment when I have discovered inflatable paddleboard was a day that changed my life. I have bought my own paddleboard and joined a local group to meet other people and explore different routes. Soon after that I have become a leader myself hosting  weekly social paddles. As a person hungry for knowledge, I constantly push my SUP skills and shortly become an instructor with a big desire to spread the SUP bug in my local community! My charitable paddle which aimed to paddle the length of the River Thames (320 km) over nine days and the SUPathlon (SUP-bike-run) were the main triggers which have awaken my desire to explore the racing scene and to start competing.

Photo by: Georgia Schofield / ICF Worlds Gdynia

Dawid: Hi, it’s nice to be a guest on TotalSUP! My adventure with watersports began at the age of 11. I started to train kayaking in a local club just like my old brother Piotr. Canoeing hardened our spirit and gave us the foundation in a form of physical preparation, which we use now when SUP racing. 

As a canoeist, I stood on the podium of the Polish Championships ten times and I would definitely like to beat this result in SUP. I came across stand-up paddleboarding for the first time in 2018 on the Canoe Track in Malta, Poznan during one the first SUP races in Poland. Shortly after that, I had the opportunity to paddle on an inflatable paddleboard recreationally. 

Photo by: Georgia Schofield / ICF Worlds Gdynia

In 2020, my brother and I opened a SUP board rental hub and then Kuba Sitkowski, President of the Polish SUP Sports Association, invited us to take part in the first official Polish SUP Championships. Kuba wanted the highest level of competition therefore he wanted to attract players with experience in watersports.

We’ve only been paddling for three weeks but decided to fight for those podiums. We couldn’t bee more wrong though and we finished with Piotr at 4th and 5th place respectively. I did fall in love with the sport back then and understood that it’s not enough to be physically fit but you need the paddling technique and skills to handle buoys, chop and waves. For me the technical SUP races are the essence of the sport.

From left: Dawid, Julia and Piotr Kuleta | Photo by: Georgia Schofield / ICF Worlds Gdynia

You’re one of the very few SUP power couples on the racing scene! Could you share the story behind it?

Dawid: We’re already married so this is even a greater story. Sometimes we laugh that Julia paid to meet  me but the price was not steep for bagging a husband. We met during the first SUP workshop I delivered in October 2021. At that time, I already had successful results at the Polish SUP  Championship and medals from the Polish SUP CUP. 

Julia had just started her SUP racing chapter and fate wanted her to fly over to Poland to visit her family. She found out about my SUP workshops through social media and decided to take part. Our mutual SUP passion led to our meeting, getting to know each other and marrying each other.

Photo credit Marek Piotr Leski

Julia: When I started racing regularly at local competitions in the UK, I decided to look for a Coach who would help me achieve my first goals. Because I’m Polish, I’ve been watching the SUP world in Poland carefully and I had already knew about the Kuleta brothers. I reached out to Piotr to ask about a potential collaboration and he told me about the SUP workshops ran by Dawid that coincided with the time I was in Poland. None of us would have ever thought that things would turn this way. We’ve been supporting each other since then in our SUP racing preps and planning travel. We have a slightly different knowledge range and experience therefore  we complement each other perfectly.

Dawid, thanks to many years in professional sports, has a lot of knowledge about the competitive side with event rules and regulations as well as background in motor and technical preparation,  and effective training. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from various SUP Coaches and pro athletes which translates onto my broader technical skill experience.

All of this helps us train and develop our skills. Due to different points of view we don’t always agree though but it allows a deeper analysis which ultimately leads to reaching a common ground. It’s great to have someone in your life to share your passion and progress with.

Photo by Daniel Mofina

You are both SUP athletes and Coaches. Are you hyped how your local SUP scenes are progressing?

Julia: Stand-up paddleboarding in the UK has grown rapidly in the last few years. There are more and more places where you can start your SUP journey and see people paddling or having their own boards. The UK has a far more advanced governance and structure around the sport of stand-up paddleboarding with high standard across the country. When it comes to racing, I am pretty lucky as where I live, there are three leading SUP providers who organise regular racing series throughout the year.

So, if someone is really committed, they could be racing three times a month! Although, this is not consistent across the entire country. Great Britain has a strong presence on the international SUP racing scene and has some of the top paddlers. It’s great to see more and more people getting into racing for various reasons. Not everyone aims to be a champion and that’s OK – As they say, whatever floats your SUP.

Images courtesy of Julia and Dawid Kuleta

Dawid: What I see in Poland makes me very happy! The recreational side of SUP has been dynamically growing since 2020. You can now see people relaxing on their boards everywhere. When it comes to the competitive side, I’m stoked about this year’s level of Polish paddlers. You can see that many have made a lot of progress. This is definitely thanks to last year’s ICF World SUP Championships held in Gdynia where you could race and watch the best players in the world which is paying off now. 

You combine the experience of two SUP cultures, the one in Poland and in the UK. What is needed to grow the sport and encourage young people to start competing?

Julia: Even though stand-up paddleboarding in the UK is more advanced than in Poland, the junior participation in the sport in Poland is much better and clubs actively invest in the younger generation. The UK could change that by introducing junior clubs as an opportunity for young people to try and practice SUP. Great Britain already has an enormous amount of existing canoe clubs which could simply expand their offering and include SUP, as they already have the facilities and required licences to work with youth under 18. In addition, the junior category should be added to SUP racing events with kid-friendly prizes which are always a big motivator.

Photo by Wojtek Nowak Fotografia / SUP Silesia

Dawid: I believe that the best way to engage young people to compete is to set an example by adults, whether they are, racers themselves, parents, grandparents, etc. SUP is a viral thing, it infects and does so very quickly. I have yet to meet a person who tried stand-up paddleboarding and said that they didn’t like it. It’s a fantastic discipline, easy to learn and allows you to compete at both the amateur and professional level.

We’re catching up in the run up to the Planet Baltic event. Could you tell us more about your experience with this event and what are your expectations?

Julia: It was my first edition of the Planet Baltic SUP Race event last year. I was a bit nervous to compete on the Baltic Sea as it can be very unpredictable. We spent the whole week training but the sea was flat like a lake. When the weekend approached the storm kicked in and everything had changed. During the event nothing was certain until you crossed the finish line. In such conditions racing can be very demanding as waves come crashing in Poland at the higher frequency compared to the UK. It was my hardest race of the 2022 season so being able to secure podium was a real success! Organisers did an incredible job! Planet Baltic SUP Race is a truly special event and I can’t wait to test myself on the Baltic Sea again!

Photo by

Dawid: This will be my third start in the Planet Baltic SUP Race. This is the most prestigious SUP competition in Poland, even though they do not have a championship rank. Planet Baltic is also the longest running competition among all SUP races in the country. 

This is the 6th edition of the event and the prestige of this competition is based on the amazing atmosphere, the setting and the unpredictable Baltic Sea. This is a type of a competition where there are no favourites and wins are dictated by the conditions. The level of difficulty of this race  makes it so outstanding and this is why you want to win it this much! I was on the podium last year but this year I want to win. Winning in Kołobrzeg is definitely my goal for this season.

Photo by

Judging by the 2022 edition, Planet Baltic is one gnarly ocean-style race! How do you prepare for it and find your “sea legs” when you predominantly train on flat water?

Julia: Unfortunately, towards the end of the 2022 season I had an injury which forced me to take a longer break. In the past months I have been focusing to strengthen my leg by exercising with heavy weights. This year, I have also started boxing as a way to work on my dynamic and reflex to help me with SUP footwork and responding faster in sprints and technical races which are my priority. For people who wish to race at an event like the Planet Baltic SUP Race the weather shouldn’t be a deal breaker when it comes to training – the tougher conditions you train in, the bigger chances of success you have.

Dawid: First of all, I try to strengthen my leg endurance by cycling or running. This is especially important during a long distance race in the waves. I work on my balance with a balance board which you can use while watching TV. When I’m paddleboarding  I try to look for places on the lake where it’s less calm. Sometimes a motorboat will pass by and sometimes the wind will be  stronger somewhere and the water will start to rock. 

What’s your board set up for Planet Baltic?

Julia and Dawid: The SIC Maui Atlantis 14×22 is definitely our board of choice. This board is designed for this type of racing. It performs great on waves and with its lowered deck ensures stability. I think it will give me that competitive edge when the sea is rough. The right paddle makes the difference too.

Photo by Wojtek Nowak Fotografia / SUP Silesia

Julia: I will be using the BlackProject Hydro SprintX – its unique design helps me to maximise acceleration and reach the top speed. The paddle is extremely light with an ergonomic racing handle that helps my hand to stay secure during sprinting.

Dawid: For the sprint and technical races I will be using the Erbi Wave paddle which has a teardrop shape that gives a better grip and allows you to put more force. For long distances I will use the Erbi Storm with a smaller blade to achieve a better rhythm. Both paddles are adjustable, so depending on the conditions and the size of the waves, I will be able to adjust them to have a better balance while paddling.

Photo by Wojtek Nowak Fotografia / SUP Silesia

Julia and Dawid: We have a big love for SUP and the SIC Maui brand. We are not in the official SIC Maui Team but as local ambassadors we try to spread the SUP vibes and our knowledge. We have two SIC Maui Atlantis, RS and inflatable RS in our quiver. Our next dream board is the XRS! We collaborate with Paddleboard Guru and Wiosł who are the main distributors of SIC Maui boards in Poland. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to us directly!

Photo by Marek Piotr Leski

Thank you for your time Julia and Dawid – Paddle hard for your dreams at Planet Baltic and good luck with the rest of the season!

To find out more about the event and register, visit

Follow Planet Baltic on social media – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube 

Check out our interview with the Planet Baltic Founder and Race Director, Marcin Koc, here 

Follow Julia Kuleta on Instagram and Facebook 

Follow Dawid Kuleta on Instagram and Facebook

*Images courtesy of Julia and Dawid Kuleta 

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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