Devon­port girl wins ‘night­mare’ race

North Shore Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - FLEUR MEALING

A cham­pion stand-up pad­dle­boarder is set­ting her sights high for the 2017 ISA World StandUp Pad­dle and Pad­dle­board Championships.

Devon­port res­i­dent Pene­lope Strick­land will com­pete in Den­mark start­ing Septem­ber 1, as a part of the New Zealand team.

The 38 year-old re­cently returned from Hawaii after win­ning one of the hard­est stand-up pad­dle­board­ing races in the world, the Molokai 2 Oahu, in July.

Not only did Strick­land win the race but she also set a course record, beat­ing second place by half an hour. How­ever, it was no easy feat for Strick­land who de­scribed the course as a night­mare.

‘‘Just get­ting to the start line is an achieve­ment, but then it’s cross­ing one of the most dan­ger­ous stretches of wa­ter on the planet.

‘‘They don’t stop the race if con­di­tions are not favourable. It is lit­er­ally the last Sunday of July every year with a kind of ‘Ed­die would go’ at­ti­tude,’’ Strick­land said. The hard work not only saw her place 10th over­all, it also put Strick­land into the top five fe­male stand-up pad­dle­board­ers in the world.

Strick­land be­came in­volved in the sport four years ago after her brother left be­hind a stand-up pad­dle­board when he moved to Hawaii.

It was not long be­fore she saw the potential in the sport, buy­ing roof racks and a new board, so she could com­pete. How­ever the sport was not just about stay­ing fit for Strick­land, it also helped her men­tally too.

‘‘I love be­ing on the wa­ter and I love the adventure of rac­ing in new and in­ter­est­ing places, but most im­por­tantly it gives me bal­ance to my life.

‘‘I used to suf­fer from pretty se­ri­ous de­pres­sion and I find that, as long as I get on the wa­ter a few times a week, it re­ally helps reg­u­late me.’’

De­spite lov­ing Hawaii, when Strick­land was home in New Zealand she said noth­ing can beat a stormy on­shore day at Mairangi Bay.

Taka­puna res­i­dent Ol­lie Houghton, 17, will join Strick­land and nine oth­ers in the New Zealand team com­pet­ing in Den­mark.

Strick­land has just been nom­i­nated for in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion in the Top Fe­male Pad­dler cat­e­gory of the SUP Awards. ‘‘Just another first in a year that’s been full of them,’’ said an ex­cited Strick­land.

SUPPLIED

Pene­lope Strick­land says the best part of the race is al­ways the ca­ma­raderie.

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