INTERVIEW 425PRO WITH MALISSA AUSTIN
Hello Malissa, we are extremely happy and proud to count you as a new member of our 425pro family now.
First of all, tell us a bit more about you. When did you start the stand up paddle and since when did you start riding in SUP competition?
About myself, I am from a small town in Northern California and I currently live in Annapolis Maryland. I am a new home sales professional and manage the customer service side of the construction process.
Concerning the SUP, I started paddling on May 11, 2015, it was Mothers day and also my 44 birthday. Definitely a day to remember! It’s been 2 years and half.
My passion for SUP comes from wishing I could learn to surf as a child. I was obsessed with watching Tom Curren ride waves but I grew up in the mountains and was afraid of the Ocean so I didn’t have an opportunity to learn until recently. I grew up snow ski racing. The first time I paddled I fell in love with the feeling of gliding over the water. I paddled my first race 2 weeks after my first SUP lesson. It was a 3 mile race in chop and wind and it was horrible but I was hooked. I love the kinetic energy of the blade in the water and the board gliding.
My father coached and I played boys baseball when I was growing up so I was drawn to sports that I could play with boys and compete at their level. I’ve always been a competitive person and I strive to be the best that I can be. I’m addicted to the feeling of mastering new skills.
How was your first competition at the PPG as a 425pro ambassador?
PPG 2017 was amazing! I had attended PPG in 2015 and 2016 but this year was much different and better in so many ways, most importantly I had confidence and strength from the support of the 425pro family. PPG2017 felt more like a family vacation than like a stressful weekend of competition. It was great to stay at the house with Georges, Heilani, their kids, Enzo, Adam and of course Jerry. I was able to contribute to and be part of something very special. I enjoyed the family meals and the encouragement of each other. It was so relaxing to experience what family means to the Tahitian culture. There is so much love, kindness and support with no ego or selfish intentions. The Tahitian family knows how to enjoy life. I had a great time sharing music with Enzo, grocery shopping with Heilani and getting training tips from Georges. I’m blessed to have had that time together and I am a better person for catching all those Tahitian love vibez.
You are the newest recruit as a 425pro ambassador, with who were you riding before ?
Previous to joining the 425 family, I rode Infinity boards and was coached by April Zilg. I participated in group training sessions and several great clinics at Capital Sup in Annpolis.
I’ve had the opportunity to attend clinics with Danny Ching, Tamas Buday Jr, Jeramie Vaine, Seychelle, Kelly Margetts, Candice Appleby, April Zilg, Chase Kosterlitz and Zane Schweitzer. I recommend attending as many clinics as possible and that we can learn something from everyone. Money spent attending clinics is a great investment.
Why did you choose to join the family and be a 425pro ambassador?
I chose to become part of the 425 family because Jerry asked me to, and I was so very honored. I met Jerry at Hood River and volunteered to transport boards to PPG. I was able to ride and race the Outlaw and I fell in love with it. It was so much fun and I enjoyed training more than ever. I thought that I might negotiate a business development or sales role at 425pro but I didn’t expect to be asked to join the team. When Jerry made the offer I was SO EXCITED! There was no questions that this is the right team for me. I’m more motivated now than ever to train hard and do my best, but most importantly stay positive and embrace the Tahitian philosophy of good sportsmanship, kindness and hard work while honoring nature and family. Life is better and I am a better person as a member of the 425 family.
So far, what is your favorite equipment from 425pro?
The Outlaw all condition race-board and it is my favorite 425pro equipment. I’m loving my new M blade paddle. The catch is clean and smooth and I love the handle that is a little bigger than my QB was, which makes relaxing my hands between strokes more comfortable. I’ve been riding the 14x24 Outlaw for a few months and I love the stability and speed in all conditions. I’m transitioning over to the 14x23.
Could you give any tips to our community for them to ride better their Outlaw race-board?
My advice to the SUP racing community is to take the opportunity to ride a 425 Outlaw when given the chance. It a great all-around board that performs well in chop, is super fast into the wind and connects bumps without having to move around much on the deck. The Outlaw makes riding even the smallest bumps really fun. I think this is the most ideal ALL condition board on the market today. It’s stable, lightweight and very durable. The shape is sexy too, I get stopped all the time with questions about the shape of the board, I’ve even been questioned in the car at stop lights by people inquiring what it is.
How do you see yourself and your passion for the SUP in the next few years? Do you have precise objective to realise?
My goal for the next few years is to improve my endurance, race strategy skills and Ocean paddling, which I hope will lead to racing at the pro/ elite level. I want to continue to compete in races that scare and intimidate me. Last year I only finished 9 of the 12.5 mile Carolina Cup Graveyard race. My race goal for 2018 is to finish the Graveyard race strong! I hope to help grow brand awareness, not just for the sake of selling boards but to share the values of the 425pro family; hard work, positive energy, kindness and good sportsmanship. My dream is to complete a channel crossing race in Hawaii. I hope to grow my coaching skills so that I can share with others the gifts that I’m developing working with Georges and Jerry so that we can grow a community of strong paddlers with great technique that will keep them injury free. And of course, keep the ADDICTION.
How do you see the brand 425pro in the next few year as well?
I see the 425 brand growing into one of the top board companies in the next few years. I’ve had the opportunity to introduce the Outlaw to many experienced riders over the last few months and everyone loves the board. I see the brand growing from something new to be curious about, to a brand that everyone recognizes at every race. Watch out blue board company, Red is the new board color of choice. In America most pros are teaching the Tahitian paddle stroke style and it makes sense to match the Tahitian stroke with boards that are designed by Tahitian shapers who understand hydrodynamics from hundreds of years of ocean waterman heritage. Your stroke is Tahitian, shouldn’t your board be too?
How do you train for the competition like the PPG for example? How do you manage it with your personal life?
I’m completing my first full year of having a structures training program. Due to health issues and work stress last year, as well as a surgery late July, my training schedule was erratic and my performance suffered at some races where I had hoped to do my best, but could not. There is no secret, the people who train smart and commit to good nutrition perform better. I did not plan to race PPG this year until after the Hood River Gorge race, so I didn’t feel prepared from a training perspective. With the support of the 425 family and friends that I was looking forward to racing with, I had the best experience I could have hoped for. Though my training was limited, the support and mental preparedness helped me to finish stronger than I expected.
And to conclude, so far, what are your best results in stand up paddle competition? Which result makes you feeling the most proud?
The 2017 race result that I am most proud of was the Hood River Gorge Open Distance race where I placed 3rd overall for open women behind two women who raced in the pro division on previous years. I arrived at Hood River terrified, and with great coaching, I was able to feel confident and develop the skills I needed, to have the time of my life in my first ever downwind race. I’m so excited to get back to Hood River with an Outlaw next year and to compete in the double down-winder with the pros. I’m looking forward to working with Georges and Jerry on a training program, so I can crush my races in 2018! Aside from interval and rough water training, I mix up the dry land training with boxing, running and mountain biking. I’m adding lots of yoga for 2018. I’m looking forward to a great year in 2018, with the support of the 425pro Family, there are no limits! It’s not easy to balance personal life, training and racing. My kids are grown and pursuing their dreams so I am able to focus most of my free time on SUP. It can be overwhelming at times to manage work stress and training but the support of the family takes the stress away and gets me through the frustration. At 425 pro there are no expectations to win but we know the podium will come with hard work, focus, support for each other and the best equipment in the industry. THE ADDICTIONS IS REAL AND I LOVE IT!