Brandi Cumin Baksic, isn’t your typical middle-aged woman: International SUP Champion, mom, wife, firefighter, triathlete, Ironman competitor–-she could answer to them all. In this installment of SUP Women, Baksic gives us the scoop on her year of racing, retirement rumors and plans for the future. –Shari Coble

Tell us about your 2011.
I realized this year that I'm fighting the old lady battle. I didn't win as much as I wanted to, but I've managed to get by by the skin of my teeth and I'm happy to hold on. I always go into each race just wanting to win and I didn't have as many wins [this year] as in 2010, especially with Candice [Appleby] moving back to the mainland and competing in so many more races here. Also, really competitive athletes from other sports have been crossing over into SUP. Last year I was racing with all the boys, but this year athletes like Krisztina [Zur] and Helga [Goebel] are making the sport more competitive. Lots of the women I’m competing against are full-time standup paddlers, but I have another job and can’t travel or train as much as them, so that’s tough.

What was your best experience with SUP this year?

Standup paddling down the Weber River in Utah at the H2Overdrive race was a blast. I didn't do great, but it was so much fun just doing runs down the river. I was exhausted from doing so many runs that day, but still had to make myself stop paddling. The H2o Overdrive race was definitely the most fun I had with SUP this year, but my best experience according to my race results was this year's Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle Long Distance race. I was in third place, but was able to come up to Annabel [Anderson] and beat her in the end, taking second to Candice.

Do you have plans for the winter season?
I'm definitely going to be taking it easy this winter and spring. I might do some of the winter series races, but I've been taking a break since the Battle and it's been really nice. When I started racing SUP 3 years ago, I had come in at a high level because I was training for triathlons and I want to go back to that. I'm not going to focus on SUP or training for SUP races right now, instead I want to focus on triathlon training and am thinking about doing a marathon in May, so maybe that will give me a good base for racing SUP in the summer.

So the rumors you may retire have some validity?
I'm not completely quitting racing, but I do want it to be a seasonal thing for me. I want to train hard, but I'm tired. I'm still a firefighter, mom, and wife, so I want to think about SUP less and not get so caught up in the racing scene, but you'll still see me on the water.

Brandi, post Battle of the Paddle-battle with Candice Appleby. The second year in a row she finished just behind Appleby :

Click here to read about Maui’s Suzie Cooney.