Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

Happy International Women’s Day

Last fall we released an entire issue dedicated to women. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re posting the lightly edited introduction from that issue as an ode to the women in all of our lives, paddlers or not. Look for content from the issue to start hitting the web shortly. In the meantime, you can read a slew of female-focused content in our SUP Women section. See you on the water! 

Here at SUP magazine, we work very hard to make sure women get fair representation in our media channels. They do make up 49 percent of the sport, according to the Outdoor Industry Association's 2015 report. We felt we needed to go beyond our normal dose of female content and bring you a magazine formatted the same way, with the same attention detail and the same great storytelling you expect from us, but focused on females.

Why? Because there is no SUP without women. There are a lot of female badasses, weekend warriors, event organizers, company reps and mothers in this great sport of ours with stories that should be celebrated. And, in an era when recently had our first female presidential nominee from a major party, we should be applauding the fact that we have such an active group of empowered and strong women participants.

It's also because I love my mom.

I grew up with three brothers. We were—and are—a crackling bundle of energy. You can imagine how our mother must have felt. But you'd probably imagine wrong. In a house full of stinky boys, flooding testosterone and yellow-purple bruises and bloody knees and hostage animals, she maintained as much, if not more, of a presence than all of us put together, expecting respect not as one of the male tribe but as a woman.

She's a certified nurse practitioner and midwife, a world traveler, a great cook, a voracious reader, a great athlete and a dedicated wife. She'd often be out delivering a baby all night and be home in time to cook us breakfast in the morning and send us off to school. She was our own personal superwoman. We grew up in awe of her.

While we were working on this issue, she told me that she knew she needed to raise four boys who knew how to clean their rooms, cook meals and value women because she'd eventually have four women to answer to if we didn't: our future spouses.

I got married last year and, not surprisingly, my wife Thea shares many characteristics with my mother. Adventurous, strong, intelligent and equal parts stubborn and sweet, she is much like Mama Taylor. She merits respect and won't live without it.

The reverence I hold for the two women closest to me (who both SUP too) certainly helps when working with the remarkable females we collaborate with here at the magazine. Morgan Hoesterey is making a career of suffering under paddle power and is up for any ridiculous challenge that you can throw at her. Brittany Parker eschewed designer clothes and expensive haircuts for a life on the road, which takes her all over the world, sleeping on inflatable boards to make it happen. And a broad swath of SUP females are out there on the water every day, pushing the sport in myriad ways. And that is something we can all stand behind. —Will Taylor

Happy International Women’s Day!