As a sport in Texas, stand up paddle boarding started with the very first race called the “SUP Jam,” which took place in Austin in 2010. In 2011 the SUP Jam invited professional paddler, EJ Johnson, who came into town and completely dominated the field in the Elite 6 mile- Texas had some catching up to do. Since then Texas has been flooded by events from Dallas to Galveston and races like the SUP Cup and Waterman’s Paddle for Humanity. In 2014 approximately 120,000 Texans got on a paddleboard at least once and out of this large number of people a small percentage of paddlers, approximately 500 (less than 1%), competed in at least one paddleboard race. Out of the 1%ers is a core, elite group of paddlers who continue to grow the sport and push their abilities as athletes in the local racing scene and beyond. These are some of your Texas’ Top Paddlers.
Texas Top Men’s Paddlers:
Joe Cerdas– Over the past three years Joe has been Texas top SUP athlete and leading contender to put Texas on the map in the professional paddle racing scene. Galveston Island local and hometown life guard, Joe is also a new KM Board team rider, SUP Gladiator Team Captain and competitor for the Costa Rican National Team at this year’s ISA World Championships. Noteable races include a 36th finish at the Battle of Paddle Elite race in 2014. He is the 2015 Texas Paddle Racing Series Champ (TPRS). Today he is building up the next biggest team in Texas paddle racing via his local company called- Ocean Tribe.
Tyler Marshall– Reigning WPA Champ for Region 12, DFW Surf founder, Boarders Magazine editor and Yolo Board team rider, Tyler has been one of the leading pioneers for paddleboarding throughout Texas since day one. Like Joe, Tyler has had the opportunity to compete with the “big boys” and notable race finishes include two second place finishes in class at two of the biggest races in the nation- Lake Tahoe Race the Lake and Hano Hano Huki in San Diego and a 4th place finish at last year’s 2014 WPA Championships in Florida.
Nate Richard– Reigning WPA Champ for 14 foot board class and a SUP Gladiator team rider, Nate is passionate about taking racing to the next level. Noteable races include 1st place at the 2014 SUP Cup and 5th overall at the Big River Regional. He lives and trains on Lake Grapevine in North Texas where he founded a paddle fitness company called Lake Set Fitness.
Peter Ching– Year after year Peter is in attendance of at least 75% of Texas races. A very dominant paddler, #1 in Texas for ages 40+ and still able to edge out his younger competitors (2nd overall at this year’s Bambu Bash). Peter rocks a very speedy 25 inch wide Infinity race board and he lives and trains on Lake Austin. Just behind Peter in class is Hawaiian native, team DFW Surf athlete, Don Anderson, an original Texas competitor and several 1st place finishes throughout the years.
Other big names on the mens side include Galveston local, Travis Dhonau, Ben Baecker of Waterside Sports, Chris Tietz from Austin, Cody Forgy from Grapevine, Joe Joe Cunningham of Turtle Island SUP and former competitive paddlers who attend a race from time to time- Buck Ashcraft (1st place at SUP Jam 2008) and Jared Matthews (2nd place at Galveston Island Paddle 2013). Other pioneer paddlers and top unlimited class competitors include Casey Gotcher with SUP Gladiator and Ryan “Slim” Stevens of Austin Paddle Sports. Lee Harle, founder of the SUP Cup is another notable athlete/pioneer from Austin/Bastrop area and Travis Daoust a strong paddler from Fort Worth.
Joe Cerdas (left) and Tyler Marshall (right), 1st and 2nd, at the 2012 Waterman’s Paddle for Humanity in Austin
At the 2014 Lone Star Paddle Fest, local paddler competes with his dog on board
Texas Top Women’s Paddlers:
Hannah Elferink– We got a chance to ask Texas’ Top Female Paddler, Hannah Elferink, about her biggest accomplishments in the SUP Racing scene. “My biggest race accomplishments over the last few years would be competing in BOP for the first time, putting me totally out of my element. It was the first time I had ever paddled out in swell that was 8ft+. It was an amazing accomplishment to have not only finished, but to compete against some of the best female paddlers in the world. I ended up ranking 29th over all of that race. The second race that really challenged me was the Island paddle race this year in Galveston. I had competed in various paddle events with Galveston Island Beach Patrol’s beach fest, just a few minutes before the SUP race started. My body was fatigued, and the conditions were not in my favor. It was a huge accomplishment to have completed all of those events that day, and some how come out on top.”
Andra Dunn– In only her second year in the SUP racing scene Andra has been determined and dominant, leading the way in the 14 foot women’s division by a mile. She is the 2015 TPRS Champ, also notable for taking second at this year’s Big River Regional.
Linda Mccoy– Founder of CenTex SUP, a meetup for paddlers in the Austin area, Linda has continued to push the sport in the right direction year after year. This year she was awarded the REI Community Involvement Award from Keep Austin Beautiful and Female Volunteer of the Year Award for the State of Texas for Keep Texas Beautiful for her outstanding work to keep Texas lakes clean and eco friendly through monthly organized trash clean ups. Linda is also one of the top SUP racers and seems to have been at every single race over the past four years, most notable this year for winning the TPRS (Texas Paddle Racing Series) Women’s 14 Foot 5K.
Konae Nowell– Like Peter Ching, Konae has been the most dominant paddler for 40+ and consistently # 2 or #3 overall, only 2 minutes behind Hannah in this years Colorado River Ramble 10K. A daily paddler part of the DFW Surf Club in North Texas, Konae is truly blessed to have found paddleboarding. The first moment she stepped on a racing style board she got hooked and has paddled nearly every day since. She has had the opportunity to paddle with industry noteable coaches/athletes like Quickblade’s Jim Terrell and World Champ Candice Appleby to improve her knowledge and enhance her skills.
Other women’s noteables include Galveston’s Ellie Cherrihomes, Jenell Vollmer from Austin (Austin Paddleboarder Volunteer of the Year- 2013, 1st places in Corpus SUP Classic, Island Paddle, Rockport’s Oceanfest, Colorado River Ramble and more) and Juliet Urushima, a passionate paddler and pioneer from North Texas and founder of a local company on Lake Lewisville called “The SUP Shack” and other North Texas competitors like Kristen McGregory and Heidi Schewennesen.
Hannah Elferink jumping over an obstacle at the 2015 Bastrop SUP Cup near Austin
Centex SUP Pioneer Linda Mccoy takes 1st in class for the TPRS- Texas Paddle Racing Series- 2015