SUP Women | Gina Bradley
New York’s Gina Bradley wasn’t so keen on SUP after her first few times paddling. But she kept with it, and before long the windsurf and PADI certification instructor realized the myriad physical and mental benefits of standup paddling. After putting in time to earn her experience, Bradley dove into the SUP scene and established her enterprise, Paddle Diva, a SUP instructional company that doubles as an outfitter for female-specific SUP gear. Now, Bradley splits her time on the water in either of her brand’s two paddling hubs—the Hamptons and Puerto Rico—teaching others the ways of the water. —Shari Coble
SUP: Tell us how you found SUP.
GB: SUP found me, but at first I thought it was sort of dull…My husband had one of the first standup paddleboards hand-built here on Long Island. As a mountain biker, competitive windsurfer and surfer, the board and paddle seemed sort of slow for me, but I quickly realized that I was wrong. With a little bit of practice, I was up and paddling for hours, building my core, seeing parts of my coastline I otherwise could have never reached and discovered that I could go fast (racing), slow (touring) and have that adrenaline rush (SUP surfing) all through standup paddling.
How did you develop the concept for Paddle Diva?
After SUP found me—and I saw its unique benefits—the next thing that hit me was, 'This is a sport that, if taught and marketed correctly, will be explosive for women! SUP has a similar feeling of surfing, in terms of the 'glide' on the water and standing up on a board, but unlike surfing, it's easy to learn and do! I wanted to develop gear (back in 2009, paddling gear for females was in short supply), work on a method for teaching women (The Paddle Diva Method) and create an inspirational AND aspirational brand that attracts all women, men, children, even the elderly!
What's the most popular class or tour you lead?
The most popular class is a basic beginner class. It sounds funny but there are so many people in this world that want to SUP who are just afraid to try. I’m trying to attract everyone no matter what age, ability, or athletic skill. With The Paddle Diva Method, we train hundreds of people each day all summer. We turn total neophytes into standup paddlers!
How often do you have retreats in Rincon?
I have one a year and it's an exclusive trip that allows me to really work with women on their SUP skills in flatwater and waves. While I love flatwater SUP, my passion is taking my SUP [clients] into the waves in the breaks of Rincon and SUP surfing. I use the environment of Rincon to help my clients take their SUP to the next level. We have one upcoming retreat: March 3-7 2016!
Can you give us a couple tips to share with beginners?
1) Always wear a leash!
If the winds pick up unexpectedly and you get separated from your board in a fall, you could be stranded and watch as your board drifts quickly downwind!
2) Dig Deep! Plant your paddle strongly in the water.
A good stroke ensures you are able to paddle in any condition and any wind direction. Paddle with extended arms and use your core to pull it along the rail of the board; take the paddle out at your feet. Don’t pull the paddle all the way to the tail of the board—that will actually slow you down.
3) Look up, don’t look down. It’s import to focus on where you want to go.
The best way to keep your balance is to look at the horizon. This will keep you out of the drink, paddling straight and it gives you the best perspective!