SUP Women: Sonni Hönscheid
Sonni Hönscheid is a triple threat: she standup paddles, surfs, and windsurfs. And, she dominates at all three. Hönscheid grew up traveling around the world with her family and professional windsurfer father, playing in the water while developing her own love for board sports. Now, at age 32, Hönscheid has multiple world titles under belt, but when it boils down to it, she just loves riding waves. —Rebecca Parsons
Tell us about your athletic background.
My father was a professional windsurfer, so we traveled with him around the world, always playing in the water with our boogie boards. We spent a lot of time on Maui. When I was five, we moved to Fuerteventura/Canary Islands.
I played tennis for a few years. I guess I wanted to try something different while my dad was surfing the empty spots on Fuerte. At 14, I started surfing. I took part in competitions and became the 12-time German champion. 2008 was my first time on a standup board, and in 2009, I became world champion at the Jever SUP World Cup in Hamburg. Now, I'm traveling around. I can't wait to spend some more time on Maui again.
Tell us about your first experience with SUP.
In 2008, we saw the first standup paddler on Fuerteventura. My dad shaped two boards right after we saw “that person walking on the water,"—or was he "sweeping the ocean?" It was really exciting to stand on the board with a paddle in hand while trying to move forward.
What was it like growing up with your father as a pro windsurfer? How involved was he with your training?
Great! I had an amazing childhood, traveling around the world, growing up on the beach. Every day was a huge adventure! He always offered to take my older sister and I surfing or windsurfing, but he never forced us. My dad took us boogie boarding and then, after, he taught me how to windsurf and surf. He took me to my first surfing competitions. My parents always supported me and are still supporting me in what I'm doing.
So you surf, windsurf, and standup paddle? What's it like balancing your training between the three?
I love waves! When I see waves I have to go—they attract me like a magnet. It doesn't matter if I ride them with a surfboard, windsurfer, standup board, or just bodysurf. I used to compete a lot in surfing and did some little windsurf competitions too. Now, I'm competing in SUP racing, so I'm training for that.
Tell me about taking second at the OluKai Ho'olauleʻa. How was that race for you?
Just having the opportunity to fly to Hawaii, paddle on an SIC Board in the unlimited class, and then to come in just a minute behind first place—the race couldn't have been better! The conditions were really nice. I surfed some nice bumps, and then had a nice after-race beer with my friends.
What was it like racing teammate Andrea Moller?
It was a great race! Coming in so close behind Andrea in the last two races has been a big improvement for me. Ever since I started paddling, it was a dream of mine to paddle an SIC unlimited board with the top athletes. It's happening right now, and I'm super grateful and stoked! Andrea is an amazing athlete, water woman, and friend. I would love to go paddling and surfing with her more often, so I'm really looking forward to going back to Hawaii in July.
Where should we look for you next?
I'm in Mallorca right now for the "Mar Balear” SUP race. After that, I'm going to take part in a couple more of the most important European races, and then go back to Maui for the summer races.
You run a surf shop with your parents? Tell us about that.
North Shore Fuerteventura is a family business. It gives us huge freedom so we all can travel. One time, my dad and I went surfing early in the morning and the waves were pumping. As we were paddling out, this perfect set came in and my dad said, “Sonni, if it stays that good, the shop has to wait.” So, we had a beautiful surf session and came to the shop a bit later. We have super nice customers—a lot of them have become good friends—and they come back every year.
And you’re an artist too? How is that creativity cultivated?
I started painting as a kid, I use to always paint “Lobos” (island in front of our house, also one of the best waves in Europe) with different faces, dressed up, blond, as a princess, etc. My art is very colorful, and detailed, with a lot of curves and lines. [I’m] inspired by all travels and experiences. For me, it’s like writing a diary. Before finding my style or, “my style finding me,” I also did a lot of collages with pictures, little things I was finding on my way, and beach trash that I collected after every surf or paddling session—something I still do. Sometimes I help my dad in his workshop on the airbrushes and taping the black lines. “The perfect lines and curves” are what really inspired me.
Last year I had my first art exhibition “Peace Love Sylt” on my home island Sylt. Next year is my next exhibit at the same location. Since last year, I also have my paintings in a gallery, HOF Galerie in Westerland / Sylt.
Besides that I have been getting some jobs as a designer. I did two t-shirt designs for Starboard, two skateboard designs for Jucker Hawaii, Capri Sonne (Capri Sun Juices), and have my own collection with clothing company Chiemsee.
For more information on Sonni’s shop, visit: NorthShore-Fuerteventura.com
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