Rivers on the Rise with McQuade Andrade

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Thirteen-year-old professional whitewater standup paddler, McQuade Andrade.

 

Rivers on the Rise with McQuade Andrade

By Paul Clark

“Back in the day,” his great grandfather surfed North Shore and was buddies with Duke Kahanamoku. Now, McQuade Andrade takes his heritage to the river. Born in Hawaii, thirteen-year-old McQuade now lives in Ogden, Utah, and continues his family’s surfing tradition hundreds of miles from the ocean.

By outward appearances, McQuade is the epitome of an island child. He eats Hawaiian food. He wears handcrafted tribal hooks and rocks his hair in long, sun-washed dreads. Nothing about McQuade is common for Utah, especially the way he rides his SUP on local rivers. Despite being removed from the roots of his identity, McQuade is able to get his fix anywhere with moving water and a paddleboard. “I feel like myself when I paddle,” he says, “No matter where I am, I love the rush of surfing waves and running rapids.”

Less about his appearance and more about his talent, McQuade is getting noticed on the river. He’s sponsored by Glide SUP and rubs rails with some of the best in the business. He’s paddled with Dan Gavere and Mike Tavaras and competed against them at the Payette River Games. He gets gear and paddling advice from Candice Appleby and Anthony Vela, who encourage him to be himself; to do the best he can. McQuade puts this advice to practice both on water and on football fields where he leads tournament teams and receives MVP accolades. He says, “My goals are to make my role models my rivals in competition. I want to push limits and progress this sport.”

For all the attention McQuade gets, he remains a humble kid. He talks more about the sport than himself. His words stem from the joy of riding rather than his ego. Rather than relishing in the attention he gets on the river, McQuade and his dad bring extra boards so the many onlookers can give it a try themselves. He’s even aspiring to start a paddling program with the Boys and Girls Club to “get my generation out on the water to experience the outdoors.”

“I want to travel,” he says. “I want to run every river and surf every standing wave. But more than anything I want to give back and get as many people on paddleboards as I can.”

River SUP is to McQuade what North Shore surfing was to his great grandfather and The Duke. New. Novel. He’s at the forefront of SUP’s progression, which is just begging to be explored. McQuade is an ambassador of the first generation to grow up with the option of pursuing performance SUP as a hobby, a lifestyle, even a career. Where his elders were converters, McQuade is a native. And while he may not surf the ocean as much as he’d like, he’s still spreading the “Aloha,” on the rivers of Utah as much as anywhere.

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