The Paddling Journey and Life of Flying Fish’s Pro Team Rider Eri Tenório

Most of you may know Eri as a Brazilian National Champion, and an ICF World SUP cup champion who has finished multiple times on the podium for the EuroTour. He is truly a phenomenal professional SUP racer, and a crazy stunt man on his paddle board. Beyond the titles and tricks he can do on his paddle board Eri is a beacon of inspiration in the SUP world. Whether he’s at a race, or a training session with his friends he always shows up with an enormous smile on his face – and for anyone who has seen his smile in person, can testify that it is truly infectious. He is wildly passionate about training hard, being his best, and growing the stand up paddling community. From being born and raised in South America to now living in the United States, Eri has worked tremendously hard to be where he is today. We are excited to share a moment with Eri and honoured to have a glimpse into his life on TotalSUP!

Hi there Eri! Welcome to TotalSUP! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How old are you, and where are you from?

Hi Total SUP Team! I’m 28 years old and I was born and raised in Brazil, in a little peninsula called Búzios in Rio de Janeiro. Currently I live in St. Augustine, Florida with my wife.

Amazing! How did you discover stand up paddling? Can you share with us your first time experience? Where were you and what were the feelings you had while paddling?

I first discovered SUP working on the beach in Brazil for a small paddle board rental business that was owned by the man who later become my first ever sponsor, Ricardo Astral. The first time I saw someone on a paddle board, I didn’t really think it was that cool of an activity. I actually thought it was boring based on the fact that all you could do is to stand on a board and paddle. But then when I tried it myself, it was a lot fun and a great challenge. As I was in circus school at the time, so I quickly began to enjoy performing tricks on the board and that’s what I would find the most fun. I didn’t begin to take the sport seriously until Ricardo invited me to participate in a paddle board race called “Rei de Buzios”, which back then was one of the most respected SUP Races in Brazil. I ended up finishing 6th place out of over 200 paddlers in my first race using a rental stock board. I wasn’t too happy with a 6th place finish, but it definitely inspired me to train hard and go explore what I might be capable of if I started taking the sport more seriously. The rest… well… now the rest is history!

From circus school to professional SUP athlete! That’s incredible Eri! Can you tell us the story of how you and John met, how you partnered, and how you have worked extremely hard to be a professional team rider for Flying Fish?

I first met John back in 2018 at my first race in Florida called the Flying Fish Summer Challenge. At this time, I didn’t really speak hardly any English so I had to have my girlfriend at the time help me translate my first conversation with him. I showed up at the race out of nowhere with an ocean race board for a flat water race and I finished behind Steve Miller and Tim Warner who were (and still are) the fastest riders on the Flying Fish Team and the top dogs in Florida. After my first conversation with John, he decided to let me use one of the FF boards for training and he invited me to be part of the team. From there we drove to races together and started to bond as we were spending a lot of time together and I was literally learning how to speak English with him. Nowadays I call him my American dad because that’s exactly what he was for me back then and still is. He gives me a hard time when I do something wrong, but I know he’s also very proud of how far I’ve come both professionally and personally.

You and John definitely have a special relationship! Thanks for sharing! What is your go-to Flying Fish board that you ride and why?

My go to race board is the new Freedom Pro Dugout 14×21.75. I just love how versatile the Freedom Pro is and I can trust it to work great in any condition. It doesn’t matter if it is choppy or dead flat. I’m always glad I have the Freedom Pro under my feet.

Incredible! How has stand up paddling changed the course of your life?

This is an interesting question because SUP literally completely changed the course of my life. If you would have asked my 18 year old self where I would see myself two years later, I definitely wouldn’t say that I would leave my home in Brazil to go live in the United States with different people, that speak a different language, and live a different culture in almost every way. Through SUP I met the woman I am married to today, Lisa Comella. We met at a small local paddle board race, where she was racing and trying to raise money for Cystic fibrosis and “Crossing for a Cure” (the race now known as the Crossing for CF). After the race we kept in touch through social media, then started dating a few months later. Then a couple of years later we decided we wanted to share the stoke of life together and got married!

Eri and his wife Lisa

That sounds super romantic! We are so happy for you Eri! What has your journey been like over the past few years, from being born and raised in Brazil, to living full time in the United States?

It was pretty tough at the beginning. Leaving behind my home, family and my friends was something I never thought I would do. But I was so focused on what I wanted in life that I didn’t really measure the sacrifices. I just embraced all difficulties life has thrown at me and kept moving forward. Definitely couldn’t make it to where I am without all the support I’ve had along the way. I am really thankful for all the people God has put in my path.

We are thankful you followed your passion and haven’t looked back since! What are you looking forward to most this year? For yourself? For Flying Fish? Any goals you have in mind?

I’m looking forward to the big events that I’m going to be attending this season- ISA and ICF are definitely on the top of my list, as well the first few races of EuroTour. My goal is to get on the podium at every race I go and I’m aiming for the top spots in most of these races. I am aware that the field is going to be super strong this year, but I’m up for the challenge and I can’t wait to give it my best out there.
Another thing that I’m stoked and excited for is having a new international teammate, Shuri “Shrimpy” Araki on Team Flying Fish. Shrimpy’s not only like a little brother to me, but he’s also one of the athletes I respect most in the sport. So to have him on the team and to be able to represent Flying Fish, a relatively small brand, together on the world biggest stages is really exciting.

Are you excited for the upcoming ICF World championships to be in Florida later this year? If so, why and what excites you the most?

I’m absolutely stoked for the ICF race here in Sarasota Florida later this year. The fact that we’re going to have the most competitive SUP race of the year just a few hours from my home is something super exciting to me and the whole Flying Fish Crew! We did a trial run last year with the ICF World Cup and we had a blast. The venue is amazing and the technical course should be on fire!

Let’s hope the technical course is on fire! (But not literally). What does the stand up paddling community mean to you? Florida specific and internationally?

SUP community means the world to me. Most of the people from this community are amazing and everyone is always striving to get better and do better. We know each other, we follow each other and we are always cheering each other on! The international community isn’t any different. Not everyone is perfect, but like I mentioned before, most of us have good intentions and really care about the other. I’ve got to know people from all over the globe through all the travel I’ve done thanks to SUP. Which for me is just an awesome extra bonus for following my dream!

Are you excited for the Brazil national championship coming up? How are you hoping to place?

I am always excited about the Nationals. Last year was my first year as a Brazilian National Champ. So this year I’m going to be seeking my second title. The level in Brazil is super strong, so it wasn’t easy to get my first trophy, and I know it won’t be easy to get the second title. But like I said before, I love the challenge and I’m looking forward to see how it unfolds!

Thank you so much for joining us on TotalSUP Eri! We wish you nothing but the best of luck in Brazil this week, and also a fantastic racing season for 2024! We can’t wait to see you smash it in Europe, and Sarasota later this year!

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About the Author

Maddi Leblanc

Maddi Leblanc is a Niagara born, Canada-based stand up paddling athlete for Team Canada, SUP instructor, and lake surfer. Maddi is also the events and community co-ordinator at Surf the Greats. She has been paddle boarding for over ten years, competing in SUP for seven years, and surfing the Great Lakes for seven years. She is also a masters alumni from Brock University in Recreation & Leisure Studies. Find her on Instagram.

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