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Donna and Terry were getting bored with their usual gym workout. They wanted to mix it up and find something that would keep them active and engaged. On a whim they tried a SUP Fitness class at Westwind Sailing. Neither had paddled before or was active in water sports but after the first class they were hooked and became year-round regulars. On a random Saturday morning SUP workout, Donna and Terry met two new Westwind SUP fitness students, Lisa and Gretchen. Our instructor Steve said, “The girls hit it off instantly. They paddle hard and laughed even harder. I knew they were going to become great friends!” Around that same time, Linda met up with the girls at Baby Beach and the five women have been inseparable ever since.
This tight knit group has made a name for themselves in the paddling community. The dynamic group has even been given a very befitting nickname: “the Donna’s”! On any given day, you’ll see them paddling in Dana Point Harbor but also at numerous SUP events –as participants, volunteers and competitors. When you see them on the water, paddle up and say “hi”! They’ll no doubt encourage you to join them. But be prepared, they often paddle 5 miles + as a warm up!
I was lucky enough to chat with ‘the Donnas’, ask some questions and hear their story. When I asked how paddling has affected their lives the sentiment was the same: they all expressed deep gratitude for the healthy lifestyle and fitness they’ve achieved but most importantly the close friendship they’ve developed with one another. Here’s to the Donnas!
Holly: What is your most memorable paddling experience?
The Donnas: “Okay; it’s a toss up! Paddling close to the gray whales, with pods of dolphins, seeing a shark close up with Gretchen –yikes! Or the two times we saw a very large sun fish…okay, it’s got to be the shark encounter!” “How many times have I said ‘that was the best ever,’ but one I won’t forget is paddling back from a distance paddle with Donna and the ocean really kicked up with a storm. Another, they will kill me but…seeing Gretchen and Terry fall in for no good reason…they never fall it!”
Holly: If you could paddle anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The Donnas: “I’ve always to go where they have those little island huts out over the water. The ones that have the window in the floor and you can just step out the door and be paddling on beautiful water.” “I would like to go back to Belize and SUP. I only kayaked while there, so SUP would be way more fun!”
Holly: What are your future SUP goals, dreams or ambitions?
The Donnas: “I enjoy racing and have entered a few races; I have placed in the top three a few times. Since I am limited in the amount of time I can paddle because of work, school and distance from the beach, I am happy where I am currently at in my paddling life. I love the ocean and its many wonders - my ultimate goal is to remain healthy and fit enough to continue this blessed sport!”
Holly: What do your non-paddling friends think about your SUP addiction?
The Donnas: “Non-paddling friends?!”