Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sharon Ilstrup - the smile behind "Power Daisy"

Sharon Ilstrup is a name that constantly "pops up" here in the Pacific Northwest. We first met her at the Stroke the Slough race here in Washington full of smiles, support, and high fives. Recently, Sharon found a camera while paddling at Lake Sammamish, (a nice one too). Determined to return it to the original owners, she figured out ways through social networking to get these memories back to those that lost them....and succeeded. 

Sharon is just like that, and this is why we like her and want to share her story:

In the early 80’s, I lived on the island of Oahu and was part of an Outrigger Canoe club..I loved the connection with the water, the people and the amazing workout! Fast forward 100 years and I found myself on Kauai, SUP’ing (Stand Up Paddleboarding) down the Hanalei River, with my kids, paddling against the trade winds while watching sea turtles, below….I was hooked. I bought 2 surf style boards when we got back to the mainland.

I feel most at peace when I’m on, in or near the water... If I’m not near an ocean, lake or river for a few days, I start to feel out of balance.  SUP is, for me, THE best way to feel that connection with water.  The fact that it’s a killer core workout is a huge bonus. To be able to feed my soul AND get in great shape while being part of this amazing community of surfers and paddlers makes this the perfect sport for me. I loved running in the mountains back in my ultra days but SUP is an addiction for me.

It’s hard to say what type of paddling I love most. I come from a triathlete background so I come from a sport that is perfect for people that like the variety of the swim/bike/run.  I started as a recreational paddler…just getting on the water with my kids, having fun....After a while, I started to read everything I could get my hands on to learn more about the sport, it’s history, etc…and while doing this research, I came across and read a book that Rob Casey, of Salmon Bay Paddle, wrote.  I decided to find Rob and take some classes from him. After training with Rob and learning about stroke technique, safety & rescue, how to surf tidal currents, etc…I decided to take Rob’s certification course and become an instructor. After paddling for a while, it was only natural for me to jump into some racing. I can run in the mountains for hours but paddling is a completely different game, using completely different muscles. I found, quickly, that I had to leave the ego on the beach and just have fun. The majority of people racing SUP are incredibly strong!! I’m getting used to finishing near last.  Give me a couple more years. 

Then there is downwinding….The whole idea of surfing on Puget Sound seemed so cool to me. Rob sent me to Art Aquino of Downwind Warriors to learn more. Art took me out on what turned out to be an insanely crazy weather day, with several wind directional changes and a hail storm, but I loved every minute of it. Downwinding also gave me a ton of confidence on those 20 knot days on Lake Washington. I’ll go out in almost any conditions, year round.

Because I spend a lot of time teaching SUP, which requires a lot of talking, getting out and paddling on my own is important.  I crave the silence. Having said that, I would not trade my girlfriend time, on the water, for anything!

I would have to say my favorite place to paddle in the PNW (Pacific Northwest), is anywhere on the Puget Sound. I spend most of my time on Lake Washington because it’s convenient and easy to launch, but the Puget Sound is so much more ‘alive’ than the lakes, and also more interesting with the currents, tides, crazy swell and chop. I also have to mention the Slough…when it’s rough and windy and I need an easy day, I head to the Sammamish Slough. Just this week I went out, with my friend Ziggy, and it was so amazing seeing all the salmon runs! There were hundreds of Sockeye swimming under us and jumping all around. It was so surreal!

SUP is like walking on water. Kayaking is great but I love the feeling of being free and not having my legs feel trapped…It’s much more of a whole body workout and you can see so much more when you are standing!

SUP is for the young and old, athlete or just coming off the couch…It’s an amazing sport with an even more amazing community vibe…Everyone I meet in the sport of SUP has a connection with the water and we are all ocean minded. It’s so cool to be a part of this fast growing sport!

Sharon with her brand new custom board "Power Daisy" custom made by Sean Thomas at Echo Composites. Power Daisy is a very special board - custom crafted in every detail to compliment the personality, vibe, and laughs that you will get paddling with Sharon.

Sharon Ilstrup


No comments:

Post a Comment