Team Rider Kathy Summers
Hometown: Washington DC
Above all – Mom to John Patrick 18 and Timmy 15. Small Business owner, Stand Up Paddle DC LLC., Director of the Mid Atlantic SUP Racing Association (MASRA), Washington Canoe Club BOD, Host DC Paddle for Humanity, ULI Board (Ultimate Lightweight Inflatable) rider and representative. Speedboard USA team rider.
White Water SUP, SUP Surfing, SUP racing, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, climbing, hiking, sailing
ULI Boards, Speedboard USA
2011 Paddle for Humanity, Surfboard 1st
Injured all of 2012
2013 WCC Kumu’ohu, 12’6 1st
2012 Carolina Cup, 12’6″ 5th
Speedboard USA is very fortunate to have Kathy Summers as a team rider! Kathy is a true SUP ambassador. In a sport that seemingly exploded overnight, Kathy has been running her SUP business, SUPDC, since 2009. She partakes in all forms of the sport, from racing to whitewater and surfing, and is a very accomplished instructor and coach.
1) What is the SUP scene like in DC?
When I started SUPDC in 2009, there was just my boards and I. People wondered what I was doing and why I would want to do “it” on the Potomac River. Now the DC SUP scene has gone from mostly surf SUP (all-around) boards to race boards. We host several races here in DC that include SUP’s – The Kumu’ohu, Sprint Regatta and Team River Runner Biathalon at the Historic Washington Canoe Club, and the Paddle for Humanity DC. They take place in the shadows of DC’s most iconic and recognized memorials and bridges. It is an amazing experience to race on the mighty Potomac.
We are fortunate to have both touring and whitewater. I love to go fast (thanks to Speedboard), but I also love whitewater. I am very lucky to be just 12 miles south of Great Falls National Park where we have amazing rapids, wave trains and standing waves throughout the year. If I wasn’t the first, I was certainly among the first women to SUP from Odeck down through Mather Gorge to the take out at Old Anglers. The kayakers looked at me like I was an alien.
2) What is your athletic background? How did you discover SUP? What do you enjoy about it?
I prefer individual sports where I can compete with myself and work towards personal bests. I played soccer and rowed in an 8 through high school but the water is really where I find inspiration and peace…even when it is frozen! I love to ski. I am so lucky to have the best of both worlds – skiing and SUP. I discovered the sport during my yearly trips to California.
What I love most about SUP is that it can be anything you want it to be. It gets people outside and on the water in a way they never realized was possible. Besides the personal benefits of SUP (fun, fitness, exploration), I love the secondary benefits that come with it. People become more aware of their natural surroundings and thus more motivated to preserve them. It is a progression I have seen for the better part of 4 years. Each year the enthusiasm for both the sport and environmental activism have grown exponentially.
3) You are a true ambassador for the sport – instructor, racer, Speedboard athlete etc….Where do you see SUP headed?
For the DC area I think the racing scene will continue to grow. Each race has literally doubled in participants for the last three years. I also think that more people will take the leap to try whitewater SUP. It is a totally different sport and it requires a lot more equipment (helmet, rescue PFD, paddle guards, inflatable or river specific boards, pads, etc.) but it is so worth it. The middle states of the US are now starting to see the explosion of SUP that exists on the coasts. If you look at just about every major river festival or race; they now include a SUP component.
4) What do you like about SUP Racing? What are some highlights so far and what are your goals for the next year?
SUP racing on a Speedboard is truly a spiritual experience! You feel all the power that is transmitted through the stroke and the glide that carries after the release is amazing. If it weren’t for all the people trying to catch you to draft off of you, it would be a silent and peaceful experience. Of course, you have to keep your head in the game and be thankful you are on a Speedboard and then remind everyone else of why they wish they had one!
For me the highlights of the year are the Carolina Cup and the DC Paddle for Humanity. Both of these races bring the SUP celebs without the ego. The overall stoke factor is huge even though the logistics can be challenging. They feel like family reunions that happen to include paddling.
The Paddle For Humanity is the top philanthropic paddling event in the country and I am so proud to be a part of it.
5) People are traveling for races. What events in your area are a must?
Hands down that is the Paddle for Humanity! This year it will be on August 31. We pushed it back a week this year so that it falls during the holiday weekend because so many people do travel from great distances to be here and have made it the family trip to see the Nations Capital.
6) Any training tips/ how do you train?
My best training tip is to “show up”! I have to remind myself of that every day. No matter what it is that you are trying to accomplish you first have to show up. My next best tip is to find someone to check in with. Have someone video you and if you can’t get to a coach physically, send your video and ask for comments. You may not need someone to coach you every day but checking in with a qualified coach or instructor regularly will help you to fine tune your technique and become a stronger and more efficient paddler.
7) What is your advice for people who want to get into SUP?
Do it! But be smart about it. Seek out the professionals in your area. I can’t tell you how many people come to me through reputation and the first words they say are that they have already tried it and they don’t have very good balance. I quickly point out to them that the keys to a successful first outing are the right equipment for the conditions and an instructor that inspires confidence.
The best tips I have for the first time paddler are to look up, get the paddle in the water and move! Momentum is your friend; technique will come easily once your confidence is there. The last one is that if you are going to fall… take the “Nestea plunge” and embrace the fall. Ideally you will have a leash on so your board will not go far, but the last thing you want to do is reach out to grab the board as you fall. (Think shoulder dislocation.) Clear the board! We all fall and it is just water! (If you are in white water it is different but for flat water – embrace the fall!)
If you are in the Washington DC area, Kathy is offering only private or semi private lessons and coaching this summer. She has all of the equipment and charges $75/hr each. Please book directly through her at SUPDC@me.com or at https://www.facebook.com/StandUpPaddleDC
About Speedboard USA
Speedboard USA is a stand-up paddle (SUP) board company designing and building innovative boards for the performance paddler. Each Speedboard is specifically designed to promote paddling efficiency, enabling elite racers, avid paddlers and SUP enthusiasts to move through the water faster, with less effort.
The 2013 board line-up has been designed to bring the all out speed you expect from Speedboard USA designs and some additional ”tweeks” to make them perform better. All of the boards feature a slightly raised foredeck to create a sharper “spill angle” for waves, low wind signature and greater rigidity. Enhanced rail thickness at the shoulder and our “wishbone” deck shape further add to the stiff flex profile of these boards. Stiffer is faster.
Our 2013 lineup includes the R55 e Unlimited Marathon Machine, 3-different 14′s, and a 12’6″. All of these boards offer the ultimate glide and are suitable for anyone who desires performance, quality, and a made in the USA product!
If you are interested in more information then please contact us: