Jenny Kalmbach talks Tahoe

Plus a photo gallery from this weekend’s Ta-hoe Nalu events. Women’s elite winner Jenny Kalmbach sits down with SUPthemag.com to get us up to speed on her winning race and whirlwind summer of SUP.

Right after winning this weekend’s Ta-hoe Nalu women’s elite race, Jenny Kalmbach, 27, had to catch a flight to Germany for her next comp, the Jever SUP World Cup in Hamburg. Thankfully, this SUP hottie, and world-class competitor, made time for us on her way to San Francisco International Airport after her triumph in Tahoe. (For full results, visit HERE.) –David Meacham

SUP: So the Jever World Cup, huh? When is that?

JK: So that’s Saturday and Sunday. They have an opening ceremony Friday night. Then they’re going to have a 1,000-meter sprint and a 10,000-meter distance so I guess it’s like six miles. And Naish is sponsoring it so they wanted some of the Naish team riders to go out and participate. And then a few days after that is the Holland 11-city tour so I’m going to do that one as well, which is 135 miles in five days in the canals of Holland. I’m excited for both of them.

Kalmbach / Photo John Russell

SUP: You’re slammed. In a good way.

JK: I know. This is the start of a crazy little whirlwind race tour, and I’m excited.

SUP: Congratulations on this weekend in Tahoe.

JK: Thank you, I was real happy. It feels good to win again.

SUP: How were those conditions? I don’t know if you guys saw those coming.

JK: I didn’t. I heard when we got in that night. And somebody had said it was looking like it could be blowing with gusts up to 35 mph. That’s not exactly what I trained for. I trained on a flatwater board in the harbor, on a Skyland, just trying to get as much flatwater training as I could so it was pretty funny when I pulled up and I was like, “Oh, it’s looking like Hawaii.”

SUP: But not quite as warm?

JK: Cold and rainy.

SUP: You’re a Molokai veteran though, and there was some chop out there.

JK: This is definitely different because it’s a lot closer together. There were three buoys so it was similar to the Battle of the Paddle setup and there were two buoys on the outside, so you had to paddle out to the first buoy, turn on that and then go at an angle to the next buoy and then surf in to the first buoy – the first buoy was kind of like a side/head-on wind, and then to the second buoy was kind of head-on and that last buoy was actually downwind, and I think that was what saved me every time. We did four laps and that helped me keep my lead because that was what I ‘m more comfortable with.

SUP: So you switched boards right before the race?

JK: Yeah, and I was on a 14-foot Glide, the Naish board. I switched last minute to the open-ocean board and I think that was a really good decision ’cause that board just catches any bump. I hardly paddled that whole section. I would just surf, and that was a nice opportunity to just rest and breathe (laughing). I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. I was like, ‘Oh it looks like it’s downwind.’ But really, how downwind can it be? But I was pleasantly surprised that it was as good as it was because at one point when I turned that last point, my arm was starting to freeze up and I thought ‘I’m glad I don’t have to paddle right here because I don’t think I could if I had to (laughing).’

SUP: It sounds like up until the last turn around the buoy, it was close.

JK: Yeah it was. The first lap it started out and I had the lead and then coming around getting close to the second buoy I fell and Brandi (Cumin Baksic) got a lot closer, and when we did the run on the first lap she was steps behind me. I remember the high altitude. It hit me after that first lap. And I had to walk my board because it was so far. And then the second lap she passed me at one point in between the first and the second buoys and took the lead, but then again coming around when I got to the downwind I was able to pass her. And then I think that second lap is when I got the best surfing in and I caught a wave all the way to shore. Just catching those bumps, you can just glide so much farther and so it gave me a little bit more of a lead. Again, she’d catch up a little bit in the flat, or in the headwind. ‘Cause I was on a 14-foot board and she was on a 12-6 and so I think her board maneuvered upwind better than mine did. But that downwind was what I think made all the difference.

SUP: You’ve had a great year but what would you say is your highlight?

JK: By far the highlight would have to be the Destination 3 (Summer SUP, 2010) and that was just because it was such an accomplishment I will probably never do again. You know, I’ll do some of those things. Definitely the Oahu to Kauai (crossing) was, for me, the greatest accomplishment. Just finishing that was a mix of emotions. At the same time it really burnt me out for the next few races.

  • Millard Roth

    Good article. Great interview.

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