Danny Ching is arguably one of standup paddling's best athletes. An outrigger canoe world champion, the Redondo Beach, Calif., native has turned his refined canoe stroke into SUP gold this year, winning both the Battle of the Paddle Hawaii and last weekend, the Ta-hoe Nalu. In this exclusive interview, SUPthemag.com throws down with standup paddling's hottest racer as he talks winning, not being Hawaiian and life after competition. --JC
SUP:: What did you think of the Ta-hoe Nalu event?
DC: It was a different race course than I'm used to. They get some windswell up there. The PR for the event was the biggest flat-water race in the world. It was pretty funny how it ended up. I enjoyed it.
SUP: So you train in Hawaii half the year. Did that experience help you in the surprisingly-rough Tahoe conditions.
DC:I tend to have an advantage in the downwind. After seven years I finally figured it out. It's all about reading water and connecting waves. That's why when the Hawaiian's transfer from outrigger to standup they have an advantage. It has definitely helped me.
SUP: So what got you into standup?
DC: Originally, a friend kept bugging me to do standup. In the So. Cal. outrigger series they have a short and a long course. I could race standup in the morning and oc in the afternoon. It was like, if I'm gonna’ drive two or three hours to an event, I want to be on the water for two or three hours.
SUP: Why are you stoked on racing standup?
DC: Standup races really challenge you, coming in and out of the surf. Plus I love the luck factor that's involved. Different guys win all the time cause you can catch a break. You're either gonna catch a wave and win or take it on the head and you're done.
SUP: What are you doing between now and the Battle of the Paddle Dana Point?
DC: Right now, I'm working on setting up my board brand, 404 and getting our team together. Greg Jensen approached me at the Battle of the Paddle DP last year about starting my own board company. I figure this way, I don't have to be fast forever. When the younger guys start stepping up I can be an owner and make a career out of it. We're licensing our boards through Riviera because they have the production all set up.
SUP: Okay, product plug, tell us about your boards.
DC: We'll be producing a 14-footer, a stock model and an unlimited. The stock board is out now and the 14-footer and the unlimited should be out in two to three months. We're also doing a 10'6 trainer which is available now for places like Baby Beach (in Dana Point, Calif.) and lake cruising. It's hard to watch people take out a three-finned soft top. You could even compete in it if you want and surf a bit. I'm pretty excited.
Photos by Ryan Salm