When you walk into the showroom or call Paddle Surf Hawaii, Austin Yonehiro is usually the one you will get to talk to. He is as passionate about stand up paddling as they come. Austin is a valuble part of PSH’s growing company and is up for a SUP surf session every chance he gets. Owner of PSH, Blane Chambers says about Austin, “He fits our company because he’s a dedicated individual, hard worker and loves to SUP surf. This industry is full of people who don’t even SUP. All they want to do is make money off it. We’re so stoked Austin decided to work with us. He fits perfect.”
How did you start Stand Up Paddling?
It started with a phone call from Blane last year to come check out Paddle Surf Hawaii and to see if I would be interested to be a part of it’s growth. Prior to the phone call I was witnessing where SUP surfing was going through the pictures on the internet and seeing Blane’s shapes everywhere. I was pretty impressed and it didn’t take much to convince me to take advantage of the opportunity offered.
The best thing about being part of the company is being able to SUP everyday be it surfing or paddling. We like to call it R&D. I remember the first time I went out and Blane handed me a 11’9″ monster of a board. I took one look at that board and thought to myself, “You gotta be kidding me!”. I was confident that with my surfing background I was about to go out and show him how simple this was. Guess what? I have never been so humbled in my life. I learned very quickly that if I was to get good at this I needed to swallow my pride and take the falls that come along with the learning curve. But all in all I was in love with the sport and couldn’t believe the fun I was having. Besides the pain in my arches and legs I knew I was hooked on this sport for life.
What size boards do you ride?
I have two favorites at this time. My trusty 10-6 molded “All-Arounder” model and an Epoxy Hand Glassed 9-6 proto-type “Big Boy All Arounder” model that we are currently molding into production. Both boards are insane!
I can always trust my 10-6 Molded Production “All Arounder” on days where I need my board to charge and handle in all types of conditions. I find myself beating sections that I didn’t think possible. On waves that throw mean sections, I can carve a sick “s” turn where it counts. I found myself surfing this board from 1 foot to 8 feet on the North Shore without any problems and I’ve witnessed this board, first hand, in 12 foot plus outer reef North Shore.
The 9-6 proto-type “Big Boy All-Arounder”, in my opinion, is a shape that Blane designed that will turn a big guys SUP world upside down. I’m 230 and the board can be put on it’s rail and surfed from it’s tail like there’s no tomorrow. This board let’s me gouge frontside or backside and is so stable, being only 9′-6″ and 29 1/4″ wide. I’m amazed on it’s ability to turn on a dime when you step on the tail. This is the board that has definitely stepped up my performance with SUP surfing and got me thinking that the possibilities are endless with the progression of this sport.
What kind of paddle do you use and what are it’s measurements?
I use a Kialoa Carbon Shaka Puu paddle. You can’t beat the flexibility, strength and fluidity of the blade in the water while SUPing. I went through different paddle brands when I first started and actually developed shoulder pains on certain type of paddles which, I will not name names, do not compare to the feel of my Kialoa Carbon Paddle. I started off with an eight inch cut above my head and shortly after went down to 6 inches for an easier transition while SUPing for waves.
Do you like to just paddle or do you only surf?
Both. That’s why I love this sport. I was born in the water fishing, diving and surfing from a young age and Stand Up Paddling allows me to always be in the water no matter what the conditions. Don’t get me wrong, I pray for surf and would be SUP surfing every chance I get but I also have just as much stoke catching a fish off of my SUP Board or going for a paddle up the river in Haleiwa for a good workout. Just going for a cruise on a flat day and seeing the sea life below your feet from a stand up position is amazing. The stoke is endless.
Where do you see SUP surfing going in the future?
I don’t think any of us know just how far SUP surfing will go. That’s how progressive this sport is. Just when someone thinks there’s limits to the performance someone like Ikaika Kalama will go out and charge heavy Pipeline or Laird Hamilton will paddle out to some giant mysto break. If I had to sum it up in one word, “limitless”.