SUP groms to watch in 2017

Noa Hopper

Age: 18

Hometown: San Diego

Noa Hopper has a more aquatic lifestyle than most high school seniors. He manages to stay at the top of his game in four different watersports: he's not only the captain of his surf team and a four-year varsity water polo player, Hopper is also a national champion kayaker with Olympic aspirations. To top it off, he was the only grom to make the Men's Elite Technical Finals at #PPG2016, in addition to winning the Junior Pro. We caught up with him to ask how he manages to do it all. —JH

With high school graduation around the corner, what's the big picture look like for you?

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist. All the traveling I've done for standup paddling has really opened my eyes to all the negative things humans are doing to the ocean and how terrifying that is. I definitely want go to college at some point and hopefully continue to use standup paddling as a means to continue traveling and doing research.

How do you manage to stay in peak condition for each sport?

Other sports help a lot to prepare for your main sport. So much comes from cross training and actually using every single muscle in your body. From water polo I get my lungs, kayaking is where I build my shoulders and standup paddling really works my lower back, core and legs. All these different sports together make me a better athlete overall.

You're also a champion kayaker. What are your aspirations with paddling beyond SUP?

I'm at the head of the kayak team for the United States and one of my dreams has always been to go to the Olympics. To bring notoriety back to kayaking in the US would be amazing. If standup paddling makes it into the Olympics by 2024, competing in that would be my absolute dream.

At #PPG2016 you showed you are ready to breakout. Is 2017 the year for you?

I'm not looking 15 or 20 years down the line, I'm only looking to this next year. I want to take hold of this opportunity and become one of the world's best paddlers. It's always been my dream to stand alongside people like Danny (Ching), Connor (Baxter), Mo (Freitas) and Kai (Lenny). To be able to call them my friends now is lucky and I'll put everything into my training for 2017.

This interview is originally from our 2017 Groms Issue.

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