The SIC MauiTeam Rider, Pro Stand Up Paddle Athlete, Coach and SUP Yogi, Seychelle is the epitome of talent, work ethic, passion and perseverance. As a Coach and part of the Paddle Monster training squad, she shares her skills, knowledge and love for the sport, driving the SUP community by, as she puts it, “motivating and inspiring others to find what drives them to work hard, live passionately and feel successful in life”. TotalSUP caught up with Seychelle right after her win at Chattajack 31 Mile SUP/Kayak Race 2019and in the run up to Paris SUP Open, the final stop on the APP World Tour.
Photo Jason Reinhart
Hi Seychelle, congratulations on your epic SUP racing season and last weekend’s Title at Chattajack 31! Can you take us through that last race?
Thank you so much! Chattajack is always one of the most difficult and emotional races of the year. I wasn’t feeling 100% confident in my ability to paddle 31 miles this weekend. It’s been a long year of injury recovery and my longest paddle since Chattajack 2018 has been 15 miles, one time.
My plan was never to go this race alone. I knew I had worthy drafting partners for the first time in 3 years. I rallied both Kim Bartnes… and April Zilg last week into lining up together and forming a draft train to share the journey. We found each other before the start and were on our way to the line when the gun went off. No one was ready (I think Ben’s watch might have been 2 min fast) but in any case off we sprinted in what is historically one of the craziest starts of any race. Over 300 people in a single start “GO.”
For several miles it’s nothing but wash from all directions. I got a good lead. (I secretly love that kind of chaos.) so I decided to run with it for a while. At mile 2 I was 50-100meters ahead, Kim and April linked up and were working together to catch me. I still didn’t want to do the entire race alone, but I wasn’t about to slow down. My plan became “let them catch me, but make them work damn hard for it.”. Well 10 miles later and I still had a good lead. A head wind began to build. April wasn’t feeling well and Kim dropped her and reeled me in at mile 15.
I was starting to fade as well. I took turns drafting leads with Kim. We traded off every mile until the finish. but my motivation was no where to be found. I was ready to quit and thought about it a lot. Like really seriously, “f this wind. I’m turning around. It’s not worth it. I don’t care enough to keep going” went through my head for the next 5 miles. But besides feeling tired, my body was doing just fine. Unarmed with a legitimate excuse to pullout, I kept paddling. Then a miracle happened. This Amazing, Glorious, Life Saving tailwind picked up and we had DW conditions for the next 8 miles. I was in heaven and having fun again.
3 miles before the finish and the wind switched in our face again. I knew I didn’t have it in me to pull away from Kim. She was on a mission and still hammering away. I went in to conservation mode and saved up a much as I had left in me to save, waited until we reached hales dam and took a pass on the outside. The sprint had begun. We hit the inside buoy side by side, I dug deep and finished just 2 board lengths ahead. I collapsed on my board and cried tears of joy.
I’ve never been so proud to just finish a race. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I really wanted to quit. And then to battle through and pull off the win, felt indescribably good.
You’re a remarkable SUP Athlete, SUP Coach, World Record holder, 2016 “Fastest Paddler on Earth” and SUP Yogi. Could you tell us how you come into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?
Sure I would love to. I first got into stand up paddleboarding through SUP Yoga. I bought my first board as a way to bring my Yoga practice out on the water. Like many people at that time, I wasn’t even aware that this sport existed. I took a job at my local paddleboard shop, Paddle the Florida Keys, giving eco tours. The guys at the shop were all training for an upcoming SUP race and invited me to join them. My boss at the time, Scott Baste, gave me a few tips, let me borrow a raceboard, and I ended up winning my very first SUP race. From that moment on, I was hooked!
Photo Jason Reinhart
As a SIC Maui Team Rider, what are your boards of choice?
Haha. That one is too easy! I ride the SIC Maui RS, which stand for Rocket Ship. My go-to board for most races is the 14×21.5, but if it’s really rough I will use the 14×23. For surfing I use the Slice Pro 7’8. And for Yoga I use my Tao Fit iSUP.
That is a multi-layered question to answer. I prepare physically every single day. I work together closely with coach Larry Cainand follow a custom training program that includes paddling, cross training, strength training, and recovery sessions. Leading up to a race it is easy to get worked up or stressed out about what will happen on race day. Most of the things that we stress about are only in our mind and are things that we have little to no control over. I do as much as I can to follow my program, feel confident in my ability, and let the results take care of themselves. I make lists that I follow to prepare the night before and the day of a race to make sure I have everything taken care of without having to think too much about it. The less my mind is involved in race preparations, the more it just becomes second nature to get to the start line, the better I perform.
What drives you as a SUP athlete and endurance paddler?
I am a very competitive person. I was an amatuer runner before I started paddleboarding so endurance has always been my thing. I like the feeling of victory when all of your hard work pays off and I like motivating and inspiring others to find what drives them to work hard, live passionately and feel successful in life.
What’s the toughest part of competing at the elite level?
Probably trying to manage expectations that you put on yourself and that you feel from others. When you are an athlete making your way up, every result is a good result. Once you are at the elite level, you can’t win every race, but you try to, and you race as if you could.
Managing international racing schedules and board transportation would be up there among the more difficult items as well.
No, not really. I am not the type that is prone to feeling lonely. My husband travels with me when he can. It’s so easy to stay connected these days. Honestly, I don’t really have friends when I’m at home besides my husband and my dog. When I travel to races, I feel like I have lots of friends. One of the greatest things about this sport is the community. Many of the athletes and even amatuer competitors are all friends. Other paddlers understand me and my lifestyle and why I do what I do. Those are the best kinds of friends to have.
What are your favourite SUP disciplines?
Hmmm…. It sounds simple, but this is a tough question for me. The disciplines that I am the best at are not necessarily the ones that I enjoy the most. My “favourite” could be considered either. I probably have the most fun sup surfing, downwinding, and doing SUP Yoga, but for competitions, I either like super fast, short, non-technical sprints, or ultra long distance.
What are your favourite places to paddle?
Anywhere with crystal clear, warm water. When I can see wildlife under my board is the best!
What would you say to paddlers who are just entering the SUP racing scene?
Depending on their level of commitment and what type of advice they were seeking, I would probably recommend them first to work with a coach on their paddling technique by attending a clinic, 1-on-1 or through video analysis. The earlier the better as to not form bad habits that can lead to overuse or stress injuries, but also to maximize stroke efficiency and power before working on speed. The next advice would be to get on a training program that is periodized and will build them up safely and properly. Training the “right” way is sometimes not the most exciting work. But in the case of a sport like this, that is so highly depended on skills and technique, all the work that we do, going slow is what builds the foundation for going fast.
What are your SUP plans for 2020?
As far as my paddling career goes, I don’t like to look too far ahead. I try to focus on one event at a time. Right now I am fighting hard for my first World Title. After the end of this season, and depending on the outcome, I will make a plan for 2020. Most likely I will do a very similar approach and schedule to 2020 as I did to 2019. Minus any major injuries I hope.
As far as my coaching career goes, I will continue to offer group coaching through the Paddle Monster training app. I will also begin to offer custom programme options for paddlers as well. I will also be offering more training camp intensives in Florida with Paddle Monster in 2020.
Any predictions on how the sport will develop in the near future?
Not really. I think it’s got a solid foundation and I see so many people working really hard to keep this sport growing that I think it will slowly but surely continue to as an inviting, empowering, and exciting watersport to follow.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the Paris SUP Open!
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