Interviews by Phil White
Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

With a seemingly endless array of international events comprising a nearly year-round race season, plotting an annual race plan is a feat in itself for today's elite standup paddlers. But this year, with the impromptu introduction of the most monumental competition remaining in 2015—the inaugural Pacific Paddle Games—several of the world's top competitors have altered their agendas, targeting the mid-October event with top priority. To gain some insight into the inspiration that's driving these athletes toward PPG, we caught up with some of the leading ladies in standup—Candice Appleby, Fiona Wylde, Shae Foudy and Angie Jackson—to find out why they're excited for PPG and how they're preparing for two days of fierce competition in the beloved Dana Point paddling mecca, Doheny State Beach.

Candice Appleby: First of all I love that it's in my neighborhood. That's really exciting for me. I love having all the international competitors come to my hometown and sharing my favorite paddling spots with them. Just to have this huge race in our local paddling community is really exciting for me. I'm also really encouraged by the forward thinking involved in the organization, specifically the gender equal prize-purse. I think those kinds of innovations really help the progression of our sport and I'm happy to see that sort of standard set in such a big event for the community.

I've been training really hard and I'm excited. I recently signed with Infinity, so I'll be paddling a new, fast Infinity race board. Even more, I'm powered by a new source these days, and I'm really excited for what's to come of God's support. I feel like I'm the fittest I've ever been for a reason and I'm ready to be a vessel for His message and accept what He has in store for me.

Fiona Wylde: "The Pacific Paddle Games shows it's an extremely exciting time for racers in standup paddling. It’ll be the chance for us all to come together and race our hardest with an incredibly strong SUP community cheering us on. I’m especially looking forward to this event because of the surf. The element of surprise – where really anything can happen to anybody. I enjoy this kind of racing because it’s not just the strongest paddler who’s going to win, but the paddler who also pays the best attention to the course and the ocean. I look forward to seeing many of my close friends on the beach and on the starting line!"

Shae Foudy: "It's been exciting for me since I've been involved in some video shoots and other promotions for the race, and so far the organization seems to be top-notch. Another reason I'm excited about PPG is because I train five or six days a week at Doheny with Mike Eisert at The Paddle Academy, so it's like I have home-court advantage. The big beach is really welcoming and will accommodate a large crowd, and the wave is challenging but not too formidable.

I'm directing all of my training toward peaking at PPG. For the past month I've really been dialing up the intensity, in the water, on my runs and with my gym work. The week before the event I'll start tapering my sessions so that I'm fresh and ready to do my best against the world's best paddlers. The field will be a Who's Who of SUP and I'm really hoping to make my mark."

Angie Jackson: "I am super excited for the Pacific Paddle Games because it's back at the wonderful Dana Point. It's a fun place for waves and we Aussies love racing in waves. So far this year I have done a lot of racing, so after finishing the Standup World Series event in Japan, I'm heading home to relax for a few days and then I'll start training hard for PPG. It's past the middle of the year and I always struggle at this stage of the season. So it's definitely going to help to spend a good four weeks at home getting ready for Doheny.

The event format is going to keep the racing exciting and get the crowd hyped up for all the things that keep our wonderful sport growing. I'm looking forward to being part of it and seeing how the event grows over the next few years."

Read responses from the elite men.

Visit the Pacific Paddle Games website for more info and to register for the October 11-12 event.

Find out what to ride for PPG.