Travis Grant at home on the Maliko. Photo: 808 photo
Travis Grant at home on the Maliko. Photo: 808 photo

Core Commentary | How Travis Grant Balances Fatherhood, Free Time and a Full-time Race Career

Three-time M2O champ Travis Grant talks being a new father, race burn-out and finding a life-work-play balance.

Age: 34

I hope to be competitive for another six years. I don't hope to always win, I just hope to be competitive. My wife and I just had a baby and I've realized where I choose to compete is going to come down to convenience. It's impossible to travel and compete as much when you have a family.

I like to keep a work-life-play balance. I don't work too hard, I spend time with family, I try to eat and sleep and have fun in balanced amounts. I don't stress over paddling and I try to make my sessions fun because if you're enjoying what you do, you'll do well. If standup ever became a chore, I'd give it up and do something else.

These days I'm still racing both standup and canoe, just doing a little less of each. For me, rocking up on the start line as a new father who has been training less and still beating some of these young elite paddlers is my little reward. I can still compete as a dad, I'll just do it in the time I have available.

I'm really enjoying canoe racing now and doing standup as a side thing. But it's getting harder to do that. People are taking the sport more seriously, dialing in technique and speeds are faster and boards are better. Everyone's more expert.

The young kids have brought a huge revolution to stroke technique. They're doing it differently than the older guys and I can't say they're wrong. I think both are correct. I've learned a lot from them and I've even picked up a new stroke. Now I have my old-school way and my new-school way, and I use them differently. Learning the different techniques is really helping me enjoy the sport more.

I do upholstery and canvas work; I've done that my whole life. I normally train, go hang out with the baby, work, then I look after the baby in the afternoon; that's the way it is. I have to be more efficient. I never used to keep a schedule, but now I've found I get everything done if I have a schedule for life like I do for work.

Apart from a couple of the elite guys, everyone competing in SUP is doing it with family support. That's what the sport's all about—community, family, wholesome fun—and it's great to have smaller-scale events that are approachable to average people. I'm not sure where the sport's going, but I want to keep it alive on the grassroots level and not just a Formula-One level.

I'm doing more coaching these days and I'm really enjoying it. I'm learning a lot about people and thinking about basic paddling in a different way. Breaking paddling down and answering simple questions helps me learn more about myself and makes me a better paddler. If you want to learn something better, try teaching someone.