Shae Foudy

Shae Foudy took first at the Tommy Bahama Paddleboard and Ocean Festival ahead of Candice Appleby (2nd) and Annabel Anderson (3rd). Photo: Merick Rickman

Pro Activity: Shae Foudy is 16 Going On World Champion

Shae Foudy of Dana Point, California, is a sixteen-year-old on an absolute heater. She’s a high school sophomore, but her towering list of SUP achievements is anything but sophomoric. Foudy is remarkably strong, fast, and her paddle is propelled by an uncanny obsession for the sport that shows no mercy in competition. And she’s only just beginning.

Last weekend, Foudy claimed victory over veteran champions Candice Appleby (2nd) and Annabel Anderson (3rd) in the Tommy Bahama Paddleboard and Ocean Festival at Santa Monica Pier. Before that, she won the Hobie/Hennessey's Waterman's Challenge (as the sole women's entrant, where she would've place fifth among the men). She competed for Team USA at the 2014 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championships and she’s been a valued member of Candice Appleby’s and Anthony Vela's Performance Paddling team for three years running. She also took fifth in the Battle of the Paddle Women's Distance Race last year. But there's a lot more to the Southern Californian sophomore than her achievements in SUP. We caught up with the teenage wonder woman for a behind-the-scenes look at the lifestyle of an up-and-coming champion. —Shari Coble

She trains alone or with fellow teens, but learns from the older, more experienced. "I paddle a lot on my own and with the kids my age at the Paddle Academy with Mike Eisert. Mike has actually played a huge part in my life—he helped me find my passion for paddling and really showed me the ways of the ocean. Mike's really helped shape my paddling career as a whole and taught me so much."

She keeps her diet mostly healthy. "My diet is super crazy. I have so many dietary restrictions because of my food allergies; I'm allergic to casein—which is a protein in dairy products—and I have a really bad gluten allergy. I'm vegan too because it's easier with my allergy to casein, and, every time I'd eat meat, my stomach would be killing me afterwards. I also really just love fruits and veggies. So, I consider myself pretty healthy. I still like [vegan and gluten-free] cookies and 'normal foods' that work for me and my diet. It's about 80 percent healthy and 20 percent whatever else."

She likes to be one with the ocean. "What makes me stay consistent and keeps me from getting discouraged is the pure joy I feel being in the ocean. I really just like looking around and enjoying the scenery and my natural surroundings while I paddle. If I want to really paddle hard, sometimes I'll have music, but usually I go without just to take everything in and think.
There's a beauty to being in the ocean with just a board under my feet and paddle in my hand; there's just something so pure about paddling and and being in the ocean. I realized that so much of my life revolves around the ocean because of paddling, and my love of both."

She's staying a Dolphin, at least for the next couple years. "I go to Dana Hills [High School] and have considered home school, but decided that I don't think I'd ever want to do it. I like Dana [Hills High School] and don't think I could do the home school work. I have to be involved at school and just be a normal teenager."

She looks to the future. "I've been thinking about college recently, but I don't know what I want to do—maybe I'll take a year off after graduation to travel and compete. I'd like to pursue paddling from a different perspective, but will have to talk to my parents and counselors to try to make the best choice.

She's hungry for more success. "I want to move my world ranking up to the top five in the next year or so and make more of an impact on the SUP industry, while inspiring other kids. Everyone has a purpose and I think mine is to show kids or other people that you can do anything, and be successful in whatever you do."

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