SUP Women | Alexis Poulter
Kiwi Alexis Poulter is a national champion in surfing. She represented New Zealand in the ISA Junior Worlds through her youth. But, in 2014, the 22-year-old from Waihi Beach found SUP, and in turn, her calling. Poulter’s pretty much ditched her traditional sticks since, and, despite being a self-proclaimed ‘workaholic,’ still finds time to shred to victory as the NZ SUP surfing champ and a member of the NZ ISA WSUPPC team. —Shari Coble
SUP: Give us your background as a surfer.
AP: I love all kinds of surfing: shortboard, longboard and paddleboard. I started off shortboarding and have six or seven age group national titles. I also represented NZ at the ISA Junior Worlds for five years. It was a huge part of my life when I was younger.
I attended the Raglan Surfing Academy for three years and then I lived in Raglan for another four whilst I was at Waikato University. The surf academy was great; we surfed for a subject and would have surfing competitions every week, which really refined my competitive surfing.
When I was about 19 I took up longboarding and started competing on the longboard tour in New Zealand. The last two years I won the NZ Open National Titles for both Longboarding and SUPing. In fact, the first time I tried SUPing was in the 2014 Nationals last year; from there I was hooked.
If you had to choose between traditional surfing and SUP surfing, which would it be?
Definitely SUP surfing—I love it. It’s a real workout and a challenge trying to drop to smaller-sized boards. I love longboarding, but I was never really very good at the traditional stuff; I prefer to try and do the biggest turns I can—which can be hard on a SUP—and is why I love it so much! I’m mostly SUPing; you’ll only find me on a shortboard if the waves are really big.
Is there an athlete that inspires you?
Daniel Kereopa for sure—he is the “Ultimate Waterman.” I cried when he won the [2015 Ultimate Waterman] event ‘cus that’s what he’d been working toward his whole life. I also like to think of myself as a waterwoman, so I definitely look up to him.
Most recently he was our team captain at the ISA Worlds in Mexico. It was the best result NZ has had in eight years at any ISA World Games (including the shortboard ones). I put a lot of our success down to his leadership and support; it was the best team I have ever been apart of.
I’m also a huge fan of the All Blacks [National Rugby Team]—they constantly show what Kiwis are made of, and put NZ on the map. Domestically, I am a big Chiefs supporter. I think every New Zealander loves rugby.
What’s the SUP scene like in NZ right now?
It’s getting bigger—that’s for sure. The racing is huge. Paddleboarding is growing so much and it’s great that I can inspire people around me to get into it. Every morning I flatwater paddle down at Westhaven Marina at 5am with my dad, who is 50-something; it’s something anyone of any age can do, and you’ll find it can be great for your injuries too!
Will we see you competing on the Standup World Tour someday?
To be honest, I’m probably too much of a workaholic. I like to be busy and I love my job. I would love to attend a couple [of events] and I definitely hope to represent NZ at the ISA Worlds for as long as I can. At the moment, I’m working towards my Master’s, but possibly next year.
On another note, tell us about your interest in wine.
I do love wine, as you can probably see from the enormous Facebook shares and from my Instagram account. I am a Marlborough Sauv lover, but I also enjoy Gissy Pinot Gris, Aussy reds and Chilean Pinot Noirs.
I work for a family-run business; we import and export wine, and produce and sell domestically to supermarkets, restaurants, online wine stores, high-end liquor outlets etc. It’s such a great industry to be in. We actually recently sponsored the Ultimate Waterman (which was held here in NZ) with one of our high-end brands, Duck Point Wine. We gave away a free bottle of Merlot to every competitor in the public SUP event and did a lot of tastings down at Mission Bay. It was an awesome event to sponsor and be apart of; we’ll definitely be back next year. Maybe one day they will have a girls event.
What do you hope to accomplish in SUP surfing?
I really want to promote the growth of the sport here in NZ, especially for girls. There aren’t enough of us out there. I almost think it’s an easier way to learn to surf; your already standing up, you need a bit of paddle training and balance, and then you’re away!
What would you like standup paddlers around the globe to know about Kiwi standup paddlers?
I think Kiwi paddlers are modest and need to back themselves. Look how well DK is doing—we really are up there!