With the immense progress standup paddling has made in the past few years, it’s easy to forget that it’s still a young game. Unlike surfing, whitewater or outrigger paddling, there isn’t a generation of athletes that have lived an entire life practicing the art. But, as SUP continues to flourish, the first generation of groms to grow up with paddle and board are maturing and writing their own history- becoming legends that future generations of paddlers might strive to emulate. In SUP magazine’s new series, Grom Talk, we get to know the first generation of paddlers lucky enough to grow up in the SUP lifestyle.
Mo Freitas is a multifaceted athlete from the North Shore of Oahu. A competitive paddlesurfer and racer, the kid is on the forefront of SUP. — SC
How did you get into SUP?
I’ve always surfed. After being a shortboarder for so long, I tried out a board and paddle that my dad got and I fell in love pretty fast. The first race I competed in was the Sunset to Waimea race and I’ve been competing since.
Do you have a role model?
Laird Hamilton is who I look up to most. He and Dave [Kalama] were responsible for making SUP big. I probably wouldn’t be paddling if they hadn’t gotten into it, but Laird is just a great waterman too.
How do you feel being called a role model yourself?
I think it’s really cool to have other kids look up to me, but I don’t really think about it much, I just like paddling and being in the water. My little brother, Marvin, is 6 years old and he always wants to paddle with me. He’s getting fast though- he’s someone you should look out for.
Tell us what it’s like having your dad as a coach and travel buddy.
Well, we’re always together, traveling or out in the water. It’s fun because he’s more like my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without him. My dad is the reason I started paddling. He really helps me out a lot coaching me and keeping me on track; he just wants the best for me.
Do you see any difference between paddling in Hawaii versus the mainland?
I think paddling in Hawaii is different because there’s such a strong feeling of aloha everywhere. Everyone knows each other and are friends that share the aloha spirit. Also, the mainland has a lot more flatwater and I think Hawaii has more downwinders. But there’s not really a difference between Hawaiian paddlers and mainland paddlers- everyone’s just training to win.
What are some of your goals?
I really want to do well in some races here on the mainland, especially the Battle [of the Paddle] because that’s a really big race. I’d like to go on some trips soon too, hopefully. Nicaragua and Indo are kind of on the top of my travel list right now, but we’ll see.
For more Grom Talk, click here.