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Blog Post

Kevin Vangritis Interview
PaddleBoard Specialists had the priveledge of interviewing Kevin Vangritis. Kevin recently purchased a 14í Double Carbon Bark from us, and raced it in the 3rd Annual Cold Stroke Classic held in Wrightsville Beach N.C. Kevin finished 1st in his division and had the second fastest time overall. In the following conversation, Kevin tells us about his passion for SUP and some of his impressions of his new BARK.

PBS: How long have you been doing standup?

Kevin: I started riding approx. 26 months ago. I discovered Stand Up Paddling while vacationing in Maui for my B-Day Nov 08.

PBS: Did you come from a surf background or more traditional paddling background?

Kevin: I have always been a fan of water sports in general. Around the age of 14 yrs old, I tried surfing for the first time using a friendís borrowed board. I only surfed for a couple of years here and there. I live about 2 hrs from the nearest beach, and at that age, without a car or license I had limited resources to make the journey to the coast. With access to a few local lakes, I transitioned on to water skiing, wake boarding, bare footing and jet skiing. I would consider my skills about average.

PBS: How long have you been racing?

Kevin: After returning from Maui, my wife and I purchased our first set of boards in Jan of 09. We began riding in our free time on weekends and I entered my first race in May 09. It was the 1st Annual Intracoastal SUP Cup Race held in Wrightsville Beach N.C.

PBS: What do you do to train?

Kevin: Because my profession is very demanding of my time, I do not get out on the water nearly as much as I would like. Currently, I am paddling two to three times a week. I make it a prior to do some form of workout daily. I work my core everyday; lift free weights five to six days a week in addition to some form of cardio four to six days a week.

PBS: How did you like paddling your BARK?

Kevin: She is the finest and fastest flat-water board I have ever paddled. The moment I set foot on her and took my first stroke, I new I was going to love this board. I ordered this new race board for myself upon our return from Maui in Nov 2010. I got a call from the trucking company on Friday to say it had arrived. I didn't get home from surgery until late Friday. I raced over to pick up my new Bark, but by then it was dark. She is a 14' double carbon fiber lay up. I took her home and bonded by putting a nice coat of wax on her before going to bed. I got up bright and early at 5 am, loaded her up and headed to nearby Lake Jordan for her maiden voyage. It was a crisp 45 degrees. What a great early b-day present to myself.

PBS: Can you tell us about its performance during the race?

Kevin: The Barkís performance was outstanding. After jockeying for a great spot on the starting line-up, I quickly pulled out into second place. I made one adjustment for my foot placement to trim the board a bit. This was to adjust for the water conditions. From there, I just focused on the bow of the board and watched her plow through the water. I have found that this board, more than any others I have ridden, maintains my forward momentum better between my release and the following catch.

PBS: How was your experience with buying the board from PaddleBoard Specialists?

Kevin: Incredibly easy. I found their entire team to be extremely knowledgeable, as passionate about this sport as I am, not to mention that their SUP boards and accessories are very competitively price. Even though they are half way across the country from where I live, I feel like I receive more personable service than some of our local SUP stores. Thatís the beauty of the Internet. I am also impressed with their packing techniques. Not only do they take great care packing the boards, they double box them as well. There would be nothing worse than getting in a brand new board only to find it had been damaged in shipping. I have now bought four boards from PaddleBoard Specialists as well as many other accessories. The latest one I ordered was the custom 14' double Bark board I just raced

PBS: Do you have other races coming up soon?

Kevin: On April 30, I will participate in the Carolina Cup. There are going to be three different races to compete in. They will be a 3.5, 8 and 12.5-mile course. A little something for everybody. Thatís what is so great about this sport.

PBS: Can you tell us why you love SUP?

Kevin: There are so many things to love about it because it is so versatile and it is a sport we can enjoy together or with friends. We first started participating in SUP as a way to get cardiovascular exercise and enjoy the outdoors. My wife particularly enjoys paddling the flat water. We have had the opportunity to explore many different islands and enjoy each oneís beautiful scenery while cruising around. I enjoy more of a challenge by paddling out in the open ocean and doing down winders. My next goal is to take on some of the larger waves on Mauiís North Shore.

PBS: Do you have any paddlers that you look up to?

Kevin: There are so many great people involved in this sport and I am meeting new ones all of the time. At this time, there are really two that are at the top of my list. They would be Dave Kalama and Suzie Cooney and both for different reasons. Dave is truly a ďStand UpĒ guy. While out in Maui this past Nov., I had the opportunity to spend two days one-on-one paddling around with him. What an inspiration he was to me. His teaching style is very relaxed; he is a very patient instructor and has the able to quickly determine what areas of your technique he needs to focus on to help you improve. He totally helped me change the mechanics of my technique making me much faster and efficient on the water. Anyone that wants to take their paddling to the next level, really should reach out to him. Even though I learned so much from him, I know I still have so much more room to improve upon and grow. Additionally, Suzie is an absolute inspiration. She is without a doubt the most passionate person in this sport that I have ever met. The moment my wife and I met Suzie, we felt like we had known each other for a lifetime. You donít have that experience to often. She is an awesome lady who has dedicated her life to sharing this incredible sport with so many others through her personal training expertise and paddle clinics. Her message is to get fit and stay fit through paddling. I plan on going back to Maui this year and hope to spend a couple of additional days training with Dave and Suzie. I look at these two as ambassadors to the sport of SUP. A BIG Thank You to you both. I am proud to call you my friends.