Devonport girl wins ‘nightmare’ race
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.
Penelope Strickland says the best part of the race is always the camaraderie.