Ariel Amaral a passionate about SUP from Barrie Ontario.
Having a background in Martial Arts and Snowboarding. she has had a love for surfing since childhood but never had the opportunity to try surfing until moving to Halifax for university. Her very first time surfing was over spring break in February at Lawrencetown beach during one of the coldest winters she can remember. The water was 0.2 degrees and the only others in the lineup were ice chunks floating by. She caught no waves but was totally caught the surf bug.
How and when did you start SUP?
I first tried SUP at the end of a year of backpacking around Australia 12 years ago with my Nova Scotia shaped Otherworld surfboard in tow. I spent 2 weeks in Hawaii and had little money left. On a flat day, my hubby and I rented one SUP together along with two paddles and tried to tandem paddle which was ridiculous but heaps of fun! When we got back home, we moved to Barrie. Feeling landlocked but close to Kempenfelt Bay, I bought my first SUP board to be able to paddle and stay in shape. I met some people doing SUP Yoga, SUP Pilates, and SUP racing and I just wanted to do it all, and so I have ever since.
Where do you SUP and train?
I paddle often on Lake Simcoe close to home, on Georgian Bay which is the home of my local Canadian Board Brand Blu Wave SUP, and most seasons I get to paddle most of the Great Lakes. While SUP racing with Team Canada, I was able to paddle on the west coast of Canada and both coasts in the US, Denmark, China, and Peru as well as Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica for fun.
What motivated you to start Racing?
While still learning to SUP, I got the opportunity to learn from one of the founders of SUP, Dave Kalama. His Kalama Kamp in New Jersey was on a Friday and there was a 7mile SUP race on Sunday so naturally, I signed up. I finished that first race paddling into the ocean, battling currents, wind, and the lack of skill but I completed the race with tears of joy in my eyes and I have never looked back since.
Whats is the biggest challenge you had during a Race or SUP Session?
My most challenging race was at the Pacific Paddle Games, the distance race. I had been training for the Technical race and with big swell coming in you could feel the tension everywhere. The distance race was the first day and I wasn’t the least bit nervous about it, just excited to be doing my first race as a PRO. I borrowed a board that I thought would be fine and as soon as the starting horn sounded, I fell in. I got back on feeling confused and started paddling and fell in again. I continued this way for over 7km’s now feeling embarrassed and disheartened as the pros passed me than the open group then kids passing me all the while I continued to fall in again and again and again. I finished the race in tears, this time from frustration. I had learned a valuable lesson the hard way, you are always fastest on the board, so it is important to have the proper equipment for the race. The next day I switched up the board and battled the waves and current in the Technical race which was much more challenging yet this time I embraced the challenge and had a lot of fun along the way. I have raced many tougher races but nothing is as challenging to overcome then negative self talk so keep your mind strong and positive and you can truly do anything.
Do you prefer SUP on a Lake or on the Ocean?
I prefer to be immersed in salt water, with the ocean and her ever-changing moods, power, and beauty. The Great Lakes, however, are the freshwater twin and can offer up some spectacular magic and power. I love the Lake Surf culture that Ontario has to offer, we definitely have a hidden gem that you are sure to hear more of in the next few years.
Did you see an increase in the sport this year?
2020 is the summer of SUP. I used to know every board and paddler that drove by, but today, everyone’s sharing the stoke of SUP. It is wonderful to see the increased interest in this incredible sport.
Why the pratique of SUP is getting so popular now?
I believe SUP is gaining popularity this summer for many reasons. It is an ideal social sport where you can remain safely in your own space. SUP offers physical fitness for the entire body combined with relaxation for the mind and spirit. With the increase in stress, we are all experiencing, with people staying put and working from home, a Stand-Up Paddleboard offers a paddler a chance to explore in peace, to find some clarity and feel as if you have just had a post-work vacation. What makes it stand apart from a traditional Canoe or Kayak paddle I think is the sensation of standing on water and the vantage point it offers to take in your full surroundings, a true 360-degree view.
Do you need to have any special skills to start racing?
What SUP racing offers is the addition of competition and personal achievement. The community is very welcoming and positive, they may be your competition but truly, everyone supports each other on the water. This year races are going virtual so all you need is a way to track your paddle. I use a Garmin either on my board or wrist to help track my route, my speed, distance, and my time. You can participate on any board, anywhere, anytime. With traditional racing, all you need is to get out to the starting line, you are already a winner just for showing up. There is normally a novice division for a first-time racer or an open category for anyone learning to race. Ideally, you will want to feel comfortable paddling on either side for potentially a good part of a race if conditions aren’t perfect and the straighter you can do that the better. Being confident moving on your board and doing a tight turn can be a real advantage in most races. I love to practice my starts which range from standing on your board, in the water, or on the beach to laying on your board or even sitting down.
The faster you can get your board moving to your top speed the better. To learn more about joining the virtual races with the
Canadian Paddle League check out https://
What inspires You?
Sharing the stoke of SUP has always been my motivation. Paddling with all types of people in so many different places has been mind-opening and rewarding. I am constantly inspired by how SUP paddlers are always pushing the limits of where we can go, how fast we can get there, and helping to break social barriers along the way. Man or woman, old or young, wealthy or poor, large or small there really isn’t any clear advantage in this sport. If you have heart and drive, you can truly go anywhere and accomplish anything. I raced with team Canada internationally in 2017/2018 with a toddler at home which surprised even me. Now with the birth of my second baby, Akela, I am excited by what new opportunities might come my way. There is no reason to STOP, instead I SUP.
Who inspires you?
There are a number of SUP mommas in the race scene who inspire me most of all at this stage in my life. I love how my fellow teammate; Lina Augaitis has shown me that there’s no need to expect your body to be weaker after childbirth, in fact, your mind is stronger and can more than makeup for the muscle or cardio loss after giving birth.
Kristin Thomas proves the power of directing your focus on your personal goals while your kids are growing up and pursuing their own passions. She inspires many mature women to get into this sport while she still passes many young girls in the race.
Tarryn King was a marvel to watch as she won gold in SUP Sprints with her baby watching with daddy on the beach in China in 2018.
To read more on these incredible water woman,
What's the most memorable experience you had in a Race?
In 2018 I raced in Peru for my second year in order to get a spot in the PanAm Games. I was racing my first heat and in the top 3 about to round the first buoy. As I approached the turn, I was joined by a pack of 3 dolphins, and one actually jumped out of the water directly in front of my board. It was a very magical moment.
How do you keep and train yourself now being not able to travel?
This year I have been racing in every possible virtual race in my own back yard. I recently completed the Molokai2Oahu 16 mile race in July on
Georgian Bay https://youtu.be/
Many other big races have gone virtual and the APP is offering a
#appfasttrack option to Sprint your way into the
Anything you will like to share with us?
SUP racing offers its own challenges for a SUP momma like myself, the wrong bikini top can actually hinder performance and can literally become a pain in the neck. I am so amazed by the comfort I have found in Akela Surf swimsuits where I have found the most comfortable suits ever combined with an ease of movement, a perfect fit, and a flattering cut.
I am so stoked to be an ambassador for an incredible Canadian company situated at the spot where I first learned to surf and sharing the name of my incredible baby girl. SUP racing has always been a magnetic force drawing me towards like-minded people, amazing opportunities, and the best brands ever and I am so very grateful that I am on board for the ride.
Sharing the stoke of SUP to make a difference.
August 28 - 30th I hope you will join me on a Paddle with a Purpose. We are coming together to make a difference from the heart even when we have to be apart at the first-ever Virtual Paddle 4 the Cure. This is a 5km social paddle to raise money and awareness across the country for the Canadian Cancer Society.
We have raised $100,000 in the past 5 years and we hope to keep the funds coming and the fun going in 2020.
Simply take a photo or video of your 5 km paddle over the weekend of Aug 28 - 30th and share it as many ways as you wish with #paddle4thecure2020.
To find out more, to register today and to start fundraising, please visit
Thanks, Ariel! We wish you all the best!
📷 credit photos:
Colin Field @colingfield / Dam Lim @danlimphoto / Sean Evans @waterworkmedia