At only thirteen, SIC Maui Rider Soryn Preston, has already competed in over hundred races taking some of the most acclaimed podiums on the SUP scene from Pacific Paddle Games to the iconic Gorge Paddle Challenge. But her ambitious plans don’t stop here. As part of the SIC Maui Youth Development Teamshe not only shreds but also promotes the sport by supporting young and aspiring riders to get into stand-up paddleboarding. TotalSUP caught up with this talented and savvy SoCal paddler to chat about what it takes to be a SUP racer at 13 and competing with your SUP heroes.
Hi Soryn, welcome to TotalSUP! How did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?
This is my 7th season of paddling and I am so excited to be on this journey as a SUP athlete. I have always loved the ocean because the waves are right at my front door. I have the best of both worlds with the bayside and oceanside just steps away from my house. As a young kid I started playing on my uncle’s SUP boards. At 7 years old I got my first race board and started competing 2 months after that.
I have always been inspired by paddling because I thought it looked so cool. I started by sitting on the front of my dad’s board while he paddled and later kicked him off and tried paddling it by myself. I was hooked! As much as I love SUP racing, SUP surfing is so fun too. My dad (Gregg Preston) and I are always about finding new breaks to paddle at. Shredding at some of my favourite breaks like San Onofre, Doheny SB, Bolsa Chica, C Street, or Tourmaline is always so fun.
My favourite discipline has to be SUP racing though.The long distance races are always the best. I find it so peaceful going out for such long distances. You can find some of the most interesting animals along the way. I’ve seen whales, dolphins, seals and sharks. Sometimes you can race with the dolphins while they swim right next to you.
What’s the SUP racing scene and the SUP community like where you’re based?
Everyone in the SUP racing scene where I live is super supportive, passionate and friendly. People are so excited to keep paddling and enjoy the laughs while racing and hanging on the beach. Our community supports the smallest to the biggest races. It is so beautiful to have the people that I surround myself with so exhilarated about the same thing I am. Mike Eisert is my SUP coach and we paddle out of Dana Point Harbor. Five years ago I was invited to join Mike’s club, The Paddle Academy, which is a grom development SUP racing programme which has produced champions. Sometimes I will paddle at the club Lanakila to do weekday training. The people there are mainly outrigger canoe paddlers but they are just as excited about having a paddle in their hand.
Who inspires you in the world of stand-up paddleboarding?
I have been inspired by different paddlers and the first that comes to mind is Shae Foudy. Shae was always at all the races here in SoCal and I would watch her and aspire to be like her. She made the sport look so effortless. I tried to copy her stroke as much as I possibly could. I would ask her advice about strategy before races and would try to pick her brain on anything. Currently Candice Appleby has been a mentor and friend to me. Several times I have stood on the podium with her but hope to beat her in the future. She is one of the people I look up to for advice and inspiration.
How do you prepare for SUP racing competitions?
Following the same routine and list is key to make sure you have everything. The night before, I always pack the car with everything I need. The morning of the race I like getting there super early to prepare myself mentally and physically. I try to find a moment of peace on the beach before I start. Listening to music, talking to my coach or distracting myself by talking to others are some of the ways that I prepare. I always have a game plan for the race based on the tide, wind, current, weather and course. There are so many variables that affect the plan. I will make that plan with my coach and dad. I always try to remember to execute that plan during the race so I can do the best possible.
It must be hard to juggle school, training and time you’d like to spend with your friends. How do you stay motivated to train and compete?
It’s always a battle to stay motivated and looking towards the end goal. I have to keep up my grades to even be able to paddle and hang out with friends. Most of my day is taken up by school. After school I have to make sure I complete my homework, chores and work out. If I am going to be hanging out with friends in the afternoon, I know that I will have to workout before school. This way I can still get my workout in but also enjoy myself.
My first tip would have to be to have fun. Stand up paddling is also about sharing the aloha with others. So my second tip would be to do it with others! If you’re training, just paddling around, or SUP surfing it’s always more fun if you are hanging with others. Sometimes training can be boring by yourself. So a buddy by your side is always great! My last tip would be to spend lots of time on the water. I get told this all the time by coaches, parents, and other athletes. The more experience or time you have just being out in the ocean or the bay helps you get better and faster.
Could you tell us more about your collaboration with SIC Maui?
I am so honoured to be on the SIC Maui team! It’s truly something that I can’t believe has happened. I am on the Youth Development Team, which means I am one of four other SIC Maui groms. We all paddle and represent SIC Maui’s world class equipment. As one of SIC’s athletes I use their equipment for SUP racing, SUP surfing, foiling, Wing Foiling, long- and shortboarding. I also proudly wear their comfy apparel. It is all so worth it! Everybody on the team and the ambassadors for SIC Maui are always so supportive and welcoming. I feel like SIC Maui is like one big family.
SIC Maui makes so many amazing boards, wings, foils and more! So it’s really hard to choose. But, my ultimate favourite SUP board is the 14’ x 22” “RS” (Rocket Ship). It is perfect for flat water, open ocean, going through the surf, sprints, downwinders and so many more conditions. I’ve been using the board for such a long time now and I don’t want to use anything else!For SUP surfing I’m in love with the “Slice”, I use a 7’4” and 75 liters.I feel so powerful when I’m slicing and shredding the wave apart. This SUP surf board feels amazing under my feet and I’m always ready for a weekend to surf. There are so many other boards and other pieces of equipment, but those are my top two favourites!
What are your professional SUP plans and dreams?
I have so many dreams and places I know I can take myself in this sport. The ultimate dream come true is to travel around Europe and find myself competing there. I would love to go to college somewhere in Europe. Or even the University of Hawaii would be so cool! The downwinders and surfing would be fun to be able to do all the time. I want to compete in all the big races that I watch live. My goal is to be like the women I see in these competitions. They are so fast, serious, and crushing the battlefield.I really want to do what they do, just in my own way.All I really know for sure is that wherever I go I will have a paddle and a board along with me.
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