Renick Woods is one of the most genuine guys you'll meet out on the water. He was one of my first impressions on stand up paddlers and the vibe out here in the Pacific Northwest, and needless to say - he made a good one! Known as the "Vanilla Gorilla" to most of us or the one of the main guys behind Team 206 we'd love for you all to meet him and this is his story:
The first time I tried paddleboarding was with my friend Jon Brown. He kept calling me telling me it was something really fun if you couldn't get waves. I was currently recovering from a blown ACL and didn't have the green light to go do that yet. I had a lot of sitting in the sun and waiting before I could try it. Finally after months of physical therapy I was told my knee could take it. Honestly I was pretty skeptical at first. I liked surfing and this seemed like it was just not on the same level. Being in the water is fun, but how much fun could it be without waves? Well little did I know what was about to happen. We paddled around to a local lighthouse and back. I was hooked. Being able to stand up and see everything around me was awesome, as apposed to sitting down. You could also surf little bumps, and it worked on my balance which I needed at the time. From that point on I saved to buy my first board.
The seemingly endless challenges are what keeps me interested in paddling. I mean, talk about a challenge: the water is about as big as it gets! There's just so much to the depth of the sport. With SUP it's more than just one thing if you truly want to be good at it. There's flat water, downwinding, and surfing. Plus rivers. To be half way decent at just two of them takes a huge amount of water time.
The other thing that keeps me going is just the love you see in everyone in the community. I've grown up surfing and the vibe that this sport has now reminds me of what surfing used to be like. Just fun. Surfing is still fun and I still enjoy it immensely but I haven't found a more open group of people that cheer and encourage each other to push limits like I see in this sport. It's awesome! I've been to races in other cities and have been welcomed into peoples houses, met family and had dinner with people I just met hours before. It's very humbling. I hope I can return the favors someday.
What keeps me stoked? Fun. Just having fun. Whether it's racing, or surfing. Even cross over sports like OC (outrigger canoe) or prone paddling. When it comes down to it I just wanna laugh and smile in the water. I also really like seeing others enjoy the sport. There's nothing like seeing smiles at the beach.
I like all different aspects of paddleboarding. Some days it's fun just to cruise around. Some days it's fun to race. Downwinding is awesome. When it's good there's nothing like gliding along for miles. Any kind of paddling is great. Sometimes when I'm training I like to go out solo and just hammer away in my own rhythm. Other times I like to train with friends. And if I'm just playing around there's nothing better than having my wife or friends paddle with me.
Locally, I'd have to say one of my favorite places to paddle is to the Discovery lighthouse. That's my backyard local route. It's a fun one too. Lots of variables to play with. Wind, current, bumps etc. It's a good training route. Fun sea life all around there also. Edmonds to Shilshole is another one I like. Three tree point is awesome when the wind is cranking. I also love the Straight of Juan De Fuca. Super pretty there.
Stay stoked!!! Have fun!