Meeting the paddlers, Mr Randall Taylor.

This year I had the privilege of going over to the United States of America, twice, to race in it’s major competitions, both times I met incredible people. In May, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr Randall Taylor while in Hawaii to compete in the 2015 Molokai Challenge and World Surfski Championships. At my first meeting with Randall, I was greeted with a warm ‘how do you do,’ and we hit it off straight away. Randall is an avid paddler, and has recently started up the North Florida Waterman Club, for all disciplines of paddling (Prone board, SUP, Ocean ski, and Spec ski). He also has had some of the best competitors, Lee McGregor and Sean Rice, pass through town and give tips and pointers to the paddlers and Club Members. Randall is also an Epic Kayaks Expert, which means he has a few demo boats on loan for paddlers to try out. He also helps promote the sport any way he can, by running demo days, and hosting clinics, he is continually searching for new ways to get the name of Surfski paddling out there and get people enthusiastic about this great sport we do. Below is an interview I had with Randall, answering a few questions on his trip across the Ka’iwi Channel and his lifestyle. I hope you enjoy, if you are ever in Florida and want to go paddling with Randall let him know.

What part of the world do you call home?

Originally from New York, I have been living in Florida for 7 years and call it home now. 

At what age did you start paddling?

I started paddling 3 years ago, at age 41.

What do you enjoy about paddling and racing that continually makes you want to come back to the sport?

There Is a rhythmic comfort to paddling which I love, a constantly changing seascape to reckon with.  I see countless metaphors in paddling and water sports in general - Try to grab the water and you will sink. Cooperate with it and you will float…  I participated in all kinds of sports as a younger man which were not friendly to the body, but paddling is being kind to mine.

What ski and paddle do you use?

Currently paddling the Epic V10GT with a Braca 4 paddle.

This year you accomplished a huge achievement and raced in and completed the 2015 Molokai Challenge and World Surfski Championships in may. How was the experience for you and what did you learn from it?

Still a novice, I had time to train this past year and decided to set the goal to finish Molokai.  I tapped several people on the best way to train, but was told that regardless of what I did, I would never really know what I was facing until I faced it the day of.  This was true. It takes experiencing Molokai to train for Molokai.  The currents, the water depth, the wind –all are different from home.  My skiing skills and experience were not up to par either, so catching waves and working with wind which is flying nearly 90 degrees to the finish line was daunting.  I forgot my Goo in the hotel and had to rely on the fish sandwich I had the night before combined with some eggs, toast and sausage the morning of for fuel.  My back gave out on me at 17 miles and poof, a sub 5 hour pace was out of sight.  You see, the problems just begin to cascade in a race like this.  These are not excuses, rather they are reasons to train smarter and harder for the next time I paddle.  It’s necessary to enumerate the reasons I didn’t finish faster.  That being said, I can’t think of a better opportunity to tackle a race such as this: the surfskiing community really is intimate and inviting.  Where else can you eat dinner with the best in the world in a sport you love so much?  It’s not every day you can shoot baskets with Michael Jordan or kick the football around with Messi.  But as I’m sitting on the lawn in Molokai overlooking the starting line, over comes Dawid Mocke eating a peanutbutter and banana sandwich and he sits next to me and says hello.  I had to ask for advice, which I never forgot. “Don’t take what the ocean doesn’t give you”…  I met several new friends, including Ryan Taj Paroz, Luke O”Garey, Justin Ryan, Linda Ng, Ben McKeown Michael Alexeev and many more. 

Like most people that attended Molokai, you were able to meet different competitors/athletes from all across the world, and they were talking about races they have attended, because of this what race or races do you want to attend in the future?

The two races I would really love to try are Mauritius and The Doctor.  I know wherever I go I will find friends but these two races seem to be highly regarded for an enthusiast like me.  I am constantly seeking favourable downwind conditions and I’m told I will find unforgettable experiences there.

,If you have any tips for paddlers that are just starting out what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to fall in the water, literally and figuratively.  It takes discomfort to learn and improve, so push yourself into that zone.  This means trying new methods, new equipment, etc.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask simple questions for fear of being exposed as a novice.  You will find easy access to the greats of the sport who are most willing to offer their knowledge. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to paddle a stable boat.  My mantra is that as long as I can paddle the more stable boat faster than the less stable boat, it’s not yet time to move up.  Again, another metaphor in life.  I love this sport.

Once again I would like to say a huge thank you to Mr Randall Taylor for taking the time out of his days to help me out. I also wish him the very best with all his races, clinics and the club North Florida Waterman leading into the future. 

Enjoy your time on the water and love what you do!!


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