The Future of SUP | Ryan Funk
This originally appeared in our 2017 Spring Youth Issue as part of The Future of SUP feature which highlighted seven of the top groms in standup paddling.
Hometown: Truckee, California
Ryan Funk has more going for him than the coolest last name in standup paddling. He also has the fastest racer in standup paddling—Connor Baxter—for a training partner and arguably the best downwind run—the Maliko—for a training ground. Funk officially turned heads when he took second overall in the Men's Pro Junior division at #PPG2016—an easy feat for no boy. We caught him during a training trip to Panama for some 4-1-1 on the Funk life. —MM
Tell us about your first standup paddle race. I grew up near Lake Tahoe and my first race was the Ta-Hoe Nalu. It was probably eight miles and I did the whole thing with my paddle backwards. I met Jay Wild when he corrected my stroke at the end of the race and he kind of took me under his wing. I started training in his program called The Tahoe Waterman. We'd either paddle, run or do CrossFit four days a week.
Your family moved to Maui in 2012. How did relocating influence your paddling? Training with Jay in Tahoe gave me a really good base, so when I moved to Maui I was ready for the next level. Then I met Connor (Baxter) and I've been training with him ever since. A lot of what I've learned about racing and technique comes from Connor. Having the Maliko Run so close to home helps, too.
What's it like to train with the one of the fastest SUP racers in the world? There's no better training partner than Connor. We've been paddling together six days a week with one rest day. We usually start in Kahului Harbor at six in the morning, grab some lunch and then downwind the Maliko in the afternoon. He definitely shows me who's the best paddler, but it pushes me to want to be at his level.
Would you say you're living your dream? For sure. The dream is to be like Connor and to be the fastest paddler. The path I'm on now has given me the opportunity, and all I have to do is go get it. I'm thankful for the support from my parents, sponsors and others who have given me the chance.