New company, new stoke: 2015 will be a big year for Annabel Anderson. Photo: Xavier Wallach

New company, new stoke: 2015 will be a big year for Annabel Anderson, mark our words. Photo: Xavier Wallach

Straight Talk with Annabel Anderson

Annabel Anderson needs no introduction. As a two-time Battle of the Paddle winner, two-time Carolina Cup winner, two-time Standup World Series champ, among many other accolades, she is simply one of the best SUP racers on the planet. Anderson had an odd season last year, only racing in select events and losing her first BOP title in three years. Then, right before the New Year, Lahui Kai announced that Anderson had joined their team. We decided it was time to get the scoop from Anderson herself.

So what prompted this move from Starboard to Lahui Kai? How much of it had to do with Brian Szymanski (former Starboard SUP shaper)?
Heading into 2015 I had a firm idea of the direction I wanted to head in. The move was not so much about the end of one partnership and the start of another, but to move in the direction that was right for me.
It was not about moving with Brian, but working with a team of people who share a similar strategic vision of the direction that we all wanted to head. Having worked closely with both Brian Szymanski and John Becker, I know how much we can achieve as a team.

Has this re-focused you for 2015? It seemed last year you had a very specific focus on certain races. Do you see yourself opening it up a little more this year?
When you asked what my plans were for 2014 in North Carolina, I answered you honestly; I was going to do things differently. It is well known in the inner circles that some events have great management and execution and others have room for improvement in many areas.

It allowed me to focus on some other things I also deemed important. As with all changes, 2015 will bring with it a different approach and fresh challenges.

How did the Battle of the Paddle affect you going into 2015? Did the way it all finished at Salt Creek affect you going into the new year?
Battle is one event a year and I treat it as such. As any winner of Battle will tell you; if you've won it – you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. It's just that kind of event.

To know that I have consistently lined up and put myself on the podium or challenged for the win for four consecutive years is what I take away from it.

I can't control how event directors choose to execute their event, I can't control the actions of others, all I can control is what I do and to roll with the punches as they are thrown.

While Battle is important, I am not solely defined by a single event or result. Quite simply, it's water off a duck's back.

You've won most of the major SUP titles in the sport. With Brian Szymanski's history with the Molokai Channel, and that being one of the only wins you don't have on your résumé, is there any chance you'll be putting more focus on that race now?

There's no question about it, I love going downwind and have proven in the shorter stuff that I can read it with, or better than the best female downwind specialists. Molokai is not something you rock up to and hope for the best. It's not that kind of event. You can have a combination of the right equipment, support, preparation and then some … and still it may not go to plan.

In the past two years we've seen exactly that unfold in the women's race. While it's an individual that crosses the line, it's a team that helped the individual there. Should it become a priority, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

How are you spending your off-season? How's New Zealand?
New Zealand is awesome. For the first time in a very long time, I have made a point of having an off-season and I have been loving every minute of it. I've been making the most of the alpine playgrounds of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Lakes. You throw the schedule out the window and do what the weather says to do.

Read our full profile on Anderson here.