For anyone who knows him, Patrick Broemmel’s name commands respect. He is a helluva waterman. That, and he is the wickedly talented shaper behind Banh Pho & Crispy Noodle stand up paddle and prone boards, a company of his own design. But, what makes Patrick great, really great, and people flock to him as his fiercely loyal customers to his brand -a fun-loving water tribe calling themselves, “The Hobo Squad”- to hear his water experiences is Patrick’s genuine love of people and his big laugh. Patrick Broemmel is most definitely an East Coast Rock Star. He’s competed in every big race, from M2O to Chattajack to Run of the Charles and dozens more with his herculean skill, unbelievable stamina, irreverent humor and humble nature.
For Patrick, it’s never about winning (although he’s a beast on the race course and has taken down more big names than I can count). It’s about participating and putting himself out there to test his limits time and time again. At 42, I watched him completely gas out a 27-year old fierce fighter of a paddler in a local race on Cape Cod. The two of them went head-to-head for the final sprint in the race and Patrick never gave an inch. When the race was awarded to him in a photo finish, Patrick immediately conceded and said, ‘No Way’. He felt that, despite the rules and photo finish, that the other paddler had touched ground first. They argued about it. That’s Patrick.
Here’s No. 2 in Standup Journal’s East Coast Rock Star series: an interview with New England’s shaper and waterman legend, Patrick Broemmel.
“Gotta have fun. If not, what’s the point?” – Patrick Broemmel
East Coast Rock Stars: Who are they?
Meet Patrick Broemmel from Massachusetts
1.) Where are you originally from?
I’m from Reedley, California. Its about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco and 4 hours inland.
2.) Briefly, tell us about your lifetime waterman experiences. How did become a stand up paddler and board shaper?
The farm I grew up on abutted the Kings river in the central valley. We would swim for eight to ten hours a day, every day in the summer and we would to go to the lake on weekends. My mom had me water skiing before I could even remember. That evolved to my cousin and I wakeboarding behind a truck in irrigation canals. Then in 8th grade, my mom brought home a Surfer mag one day from the grocery store and that was it. As soon as I graduated high school, I moved to Santa Barbara and learned to surf. Five years later, I moved out here.
In about 1998, I saw a picture of Laird and Dave Kalama surfing on Maui with Canoe paddles. I had a 12′ tandem board and an outrigger paddle, so I tried it. I thought it was impossible and I hung it up. Then, in 2002 another picture surfaced . This time it was Laird with a full length paddle. So, I made a paddle, paid dues and that was it. I shaped my first race board in 2010 because I didn’t have the cash for a Hobie, who were the only ones making race boards at the time.
“At one point I was pretty much homeless sleeping in a box in a barn. It was a brutal time, but it made me who I am today”
Some Rock Star Back Story
3.) What other life experiences have helped shape you?
When I was 17, I was involved in a car accident with my younger brother and two other girls. One girl died on site and my brother sustained head injuries that left him in a coma. This went on for four incredibly heavy years and finally, I lost him, my dad, and almost lost my mom, twice. At one point, I was pretty much homeless sleeping in a box in a barn. It was a brutal time, but it made me who I am today. I wouldn’t change anything. That kind of stuff instills a sense of urgency in the approach to ones life. Mortality is real. Whatever is on your list, do it. Your day is coming.
4.) Tell us about Banh Pho & Crispy Noodle, its origins and its tribe. What makes this board so special?
Banh Pho was just some crazy name we came up with one day. We were eating Vietnamese food after surfing in the snow. We were drinking. You know how that goes.
I started shaping my own longboards in 1996 because, like most people who start shaping, I couldn’t get what I wanted so I made it myself. The boards needed a name and I’m not much for the serious approach to anything like names, so it stuck. The great thing is that no one will ever confuse Banh Pho with “Board CO, Surf Co, Sup brand”. It noodles. What does it have to do with surfing? Nothing. That’s the point.
The tribe is just a bunch of awesome people who have trusted me to make them gear. That is a huge honor. When someone throws down their hard earned money and trusts your skills to pull it off, it’s pretty humbling.
“The tribe is just a bunch of awesome people who have trusted me to make them gear. That is a huge honor.”
What makes Banh Pho boards special? I don’t know. Maybe the connection. Knowing who made what you ride. They don’t just come out of a container at some dock some place. I love designing boards. Even when I have none on the schedule, I’m always tweaking. It’s just in there.
“I remember my GPS clicking off at mile 11 and thinking,
Molokai to Oahu 2013
5.) What has been the greatest sup event you’ve ever participated in? Give us a little detail about that.
There’s something about the long ones. Something happens after three to four hours that you just don’t get in the six milers. That being said, Molokai to Oahu and Chattajack are the ones. Both of them have such a huge cultural background and cult-like following. For good reason. When you’re there and involved, the feeling is hard to describe. You are part of something much bigger than yourself.
If I had to boil it down to one to one event, M2O 2013. I had just gone through a divorce after 18 years of marriage. I was in a deep depression. Living in Georgia, six hours from the coast in a tent in my shop, I was not training at all. I decided that I was going to do it like the guys back in the day. So, I built my own board, sewed my own shorts, made my own paddle, backpack, paddle bag, the whole thing. I showed up, literally off the couch. It was the first year where there was no wind. The hardest day of physical work of my life.
I made it in 6+ hours and I think like 60-70 people dropped out that year. That event was suffering like I’ve never known. I remember my GPS clicking off at mile 11 and thinking,” I’m FUCKED”. But I kept going, and learned a lot about myself that day.
Surrounding himself with great folks: “No Ego. Just Love.”
6.) Who are some of the people who inspire you and motivate you?
There are many but the three big ones are Ben and Kim Frieberg and Troy Nebeker of Monster and Sea. Just from a “Who do I want to live like” standpoint, those three… Pure heart. They do so much good for the sport and the community. Just for the sake of doing good. No ego. Just love.
Shaping? Joe Bark and Brian Syzmanski for being world class craftsman and athletes.
Mark Raphorst and Delfos Almagro from Indigo. The best board craftsman alive. No question.
Paddlers? Jeremy Whitted, Travis Hayes, Rand Perkins, Will Rich, Gregg Behlman, Tim Coveney, Chris Begg, Steve Dullak, Mike Brown, Terry Kent, Damian Caputo, Zach Rousenvaille, Greg Jaudon, Larry Cain, Justin Schaay, Ben Frieberg, Yourself 😉 , Marc Angelillo, Steve Irwin, and all the Cape crew.
Patrick’s Tools for the Journey and Goals for the Road
7.) What board are you currently riding (specs and deets, please!)
I’m on a Banh Pho Sprinkmastah DW 14’x23″.
The Sprink is my main race shape. Ive been dialing it in for about four seasons. I was leaning away from the deep well, but its blowing up right now, so I’m staying with it. Single concave bottom, Big full rails, standing about “1/2 above waterline. Semi piercing bow. I shaped my first version after the 2014 Carolina Cup and seeing a 20” wide MHL. I talked to Greg Jaudon about it after. He was so far ahead of the curve. Genius.
8.) What are some of your goals for this year?
Stay focused on the fitness. Be consistent and be ready to crush Chattajack in October.
I also would like to hit as many events as possible with Banh Pho and spread the good word of the Hobo Squad.
“As a society I think we have a tendency to always be looking forward, thinking about growth and the future. That’s fine, but I think securing the foundation first is the wise move.”
Where are we headed?
10.) How would you like to see the stand up paddle industry evolve as we move forward? What do you hope to see happen?
Personally? I don’t get too involved. I would like to see it move more towards a Chattajack vibe. More community, less “me”. I’ve been watching this from the beginning. Things come and go. If we can focus on sustaining what we have and keeping the community tight and coming back year after year and not focus so much on growth, I think it will survive. As a society I think we have a tendency to always be looking forward, thinking about growth and the future. That’s fine, but I think securing the foundation first is the wise move. How do we preserve the awesome vibe that exists? That’s worth saving. Everything else is fluff. Slow and steady wins the race right?