Inspiring Human: Penelope Strickland - SUP Paddler

SUP and Waka Ama Paddler - Penelope Strickland

What does 2018 hold for you and what have you got coming up? 

2016 and 2017 were such big years for me in SUP. I got to travel the world, was part of the Starboard Dream Team, represented NZ in numerous events but not all of it was fun, more of an obligation. So, 2018 is all about doing new sports and just doing events that I know I will love and will be a challenge, which means my overseas winter base will be Hawaii!

How did you get involved in the sport of Waka Ama? 

I wanted to do the Bhutty Moore race last year (2017), I had done it the 3 years previously on a SUP, but for the second consecutive year the wind wasn’t lining up for SUP and instead looked ideal on a waka, so I asked the event organiser Paul if there was a spare waka I could try the race on. He found me one within half an hour and so I showed up on the day with the intent of learning how to paddle waka over the 30+ kilometres of the race. To my surprise I actually won the race, and the community was so warm and welcoming that, although I don’t train in a waka, I really like to show up and race one every chance I get.

Do you have any advice for women wanting to get into paddling sports like Waka Ama? 

My best advice is to make the time, bite the bullet and have a go today…. literally TODAY 😊 .

The advice is for two reasons. 

1. We women are own worst enemies when it comes to prioritising other people and things (work, family, children) over our own personal happiness and development. 

2. Women, more so then men, fear looking silly and being embarrassed.

Having time out and learning a new skill is something women frequently put off. Excuses like : I’m too busy with the kids, I will do it when I lose a few kilos, I’m waiting till the weather is better are far too common, but although we are busy and conditions are never perfect the act of learning something like Waka, SUP or Surfski actually helps to reset our brain, gives us confidence and permeates so many facets our lives that taking the time to learn something like waka should actually be considered an investment. The benefits don’t start till we do which means today is the best day to start!

And as far as looking silly, I have realised over the past 5 years that the people who are sitting on the side lines are fascinated with the people who are skilful and nobody is really watching people who are learning or at the back of the pack so the perception of shame or potentially being laughed at is all in the mind.

What are you most grateful for at the moment? 

I am really grateful for everything! After a health scare I am back on track, my family is amazing , my work continues to be an amazing supportive employer and my friends are the best. I really am the luckiest girl in the world!

What is your biggest challenge at the moment and how are you overcoming it? 
My biggest challenge is keeping my mental game in check. After having a large tumour removed from my abdomen in 2015/16 my health is under constant scrutiny. My brain frequently tells me that long term goals are pointless as tomorrow is not guaranteed. When that happens I have to get back to basics and do something just for the sake of happiness – go for a surf, a swim with a friend, bombs off the wharf. Jumping in the water is a sure fire way of resetting my mental wellbeing.

Follow Penelope:

Instagram: @penelop_sup


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