Meet Josh Austin
The popularity of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)—an aquatic sport that originated in Hawaii as a variation of surfing—has expanded far past the Central Pacific all the way to the North American Great Lakes. Stand Up Paddle Boarders, or SUPers, stand on the board at all times and propel themselves through the water using a paddle. While it may sound relaxing, SUP is no joke—requiring incredible balance, as well as core, oblique, and shoulder strength, SUPers don’t mess around.
Josh Austin, a SUP athlete and plumber from Waterford, ON has been paddling for 7 years with #TeamSUP leader Tyler Backus. Austin will be traversing over 30km from Long Point to Port Dover on his paddleboard during the #LakeErieChallenge on August 24. We spoke with Austin in advance of his crossing to learn more about his training regimen and motivations for undertaking the Lake Erie Challenge.
CFA: Have you participated in competitions of this scale before?
J: I’ve done races before, but nothing quite like this—I’ve done a few solo races, all around 10K, with a couple in Dover and some on the Grand River.
CFA: What’s motivating you to participate in this challenge?
J: It’s good to get people out on the water, and the Lake Erie Challenge is a good way to promote that. I spend quite a bit of time out on the water, so it’s important to me.
CFA: What does the SUP support team look like?
J: The team makes sure that we have enough supplies and that we know what we’re getting into—that’s the big one. 30km is a pretty good distance, and as long as we’re all prepared for that we should be good. Making sure that we bring all the necessary gear is important—for example, you’re going to want a rope and to make sure that your leash is working well, because if you fall off and lose your board then you’re in for a bit of a mess.
CFA: What kind of following does SUP have in your area?
J: I’ve been paddling for 6 or 7 years now. Tyler actually introduced it to me and he started it around here and I worked for him at his company that did rentals. I’ve introduced the sport to lots of people. There was never anybody that paddled here, and now there are a ton.
CFA: What does your training regimen for this kind of crossing look like? Are there any other sports or workout routines you incorporate into training?
J: I mountain bike quite a bit—that keeps the cardio up. Other than that, I basically just paddle. Paddling is the easiest way to keep your stamina up. To train for this, I’ll be getting out to the water 2 to 3 times a week. Whether we train individually or as a team depends on if we can all get together or not. I would say it’s mostly individual, but if we can all get together then we try to train as a team.
CFA: What are you hoping that this swim will bring about in terms of change and awareness for the issues Lake Erie is facing?
J: Hopefully it’s addressed more than it is now because I don’t think a lot of people really even know about [these issues] yet or realize that there is a problem. If people know, I think they’ll involve themselves and try to help.