SUP Women | Takayo Yokohama
Japan's Takayo Yokoyama is a fixture in her country's SUP community: she's a top competitor with national titles in SUP surfing and racing, a two-time competitor on Team Japan in the ISA's World SUP and Paddleboard Championships (in 2013 and 2015), and an ambassador for the sport through SUPU Japan. Once a surfer with no other sports experience, Yokoyama now leads a busy life dedicated to and revolving around standup paddling. But, she still takes time to enjoy her country's cherry blossoms--that is, from her SUP. --Shari Coble
Tell us about your athletic history.
I have the experience of shortboard and longboard surfing before SUP surfing and SUP racing. I have no other sports experience because my body was weak and asthmatic from childhood.
(In SUP), first I began surfing; after, I started training for races. Also I started yoga for SUP training. Yoga gave me flexibility, strengthens the trunk, and is very useful for balance training. And, [it] also gave me a raise [in] concentration.
You're a great ambassador for the sport in Japan. Tell us how you're helping to grow the sport in your country.
Now I'm an ambassador of SUPU Japan, so I'd like to hand the pleasure of SUP to many people. I am teaching technique of competition, [giving] advice on gear, teaching safety and recreational paddling.
[We did] A cherry blossom viewing tour the other day--every participant was really glad [to be] there.
Where are some of your favorite places to paddle or SUP surf in your area?
My favorite place is the point in front of my house (Kugenuma Beach in Fujisawa City).
I can meet the familiar landscape and my usual friends; this location gives me relief.
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in SUP thus far?
When I started doing SUP surfing competitions, I often lost my second round, so I couldn't feel my achievement; after starting SUP racing, I felt my own achievements, [even] without victory. For me, SUP surfing is a way of expressing myself and SUP racing is the challenge to [test] the limit of myself.
How has the field of women changed in SUP events in Japan?
Japanese women love taking care of their health; events combining yoga and SUP cruising are increasing in Japan these days and women's enthusiasm is certainly increasing. There aren't a lot of female athletes yet, but the people who try to promote competition are increasing female interest.