This weeks twenty questions blog brings us to Robyn Bell. Shes a SUP enthusiast, racer, and adventurer. Not afraid to get out on days when most people wont leave their houses. When shes not spending her spare time on lakes and rivers, shes leans towards a softer and fluffier type of water, hitting the slopes and working in the ski industry throughout the paddling off season. Aquabatics is ecstatic to have her on board the ambassador team this year and we look forward to following her adventures throughout the upcoming paddling season. Mind you, shes probably found open water in February to paddle.
- Who the heck are yeah?
Robyn Bell, a SUP instructor based out of Calgary, AB.
Bow Valley Log Jam 2018, With her prowess, I bet she could rip that down the river if she wanted.
- Where yeah from?
Originally Singhampton, ON – about a 20 minute drive to the beautiful Georgian Bay. Now I call Calgary home.
- When did you start paddling?
In 2012 I thought stand up paddling seemed cool, so I bought a cheap 105 L windsurfer (read: child-sized makeshift SUP) on Kijiji and used that for a season. Then I got tired of falling in the water all the time so I bought an actual paddle board the following year.
- What are you looking forward to this upcoming season as an Aquabatics Ambassador?
Getting out to lots of events and learning from other paddlers!
- Why SUP when there’s so many other ways to get on the water?
I really just prefer to stand, it provides a cool perspective on the water. Also, as I progress into whitewater, falling is inevitable and I would rather swim than be upside down in a boat.
- Do you remember what your first SUP was? colour?
Aside from the windsurfer, it was a white 10’ Jimmy Styks SUP Surf.
- If you could build the perfect SUP what would it look like?
My paddling style would require a board that’s a jack-of-all-trades… fast on flatwater, big enough to strap some overnight gear down, and maneuverable on the river.
- Where’s your favorite place to paddle, well one you’re comfortable sharing with the world anyway?
I LOVE the Bow River, it has something for everyone. Through Calgary there is great beginner-friendly moving water. If you want to turn up the difficulty, Harvie Passage is the place to go. The low-flow side (river right) is the perfect progression into whitewater. Once you’ve dialed in your skills, head out to the mountains and take your pick of day trips on the bow – Lake Louise to Castle, Castle to Banff or Banff to Canmore.
- What's the longest commute you’ve made for a weekend of paddling?
About 7 hours for the Kalamalka Classic in Coldstream, BC.
- Do you enjoy paddling competitions? Why?
I do! They are a great way to connect with the paddling community. I was really nervous leading up to my first one (KCPO SUP Cup in Canmore, AB), but once I arrived the morning of and saw all of my friends and fellow paddlers it immediately put me at ease and was just a lot of fun.
- How are you pushing yourself on the water?
In the last couple of years I’ve started racing, which has introduced me to different board designs and has pushed me to get more comfortable with footwork. I’ve also been branching into river SUP which has proved to be a whole new ball game!
- What would you say your worst wipe out or bail was?
I haven’t had any bad ones yet, but a memorable one was during my first time on the Kan. I got a little ahead of the group coming up to point break rapid. I tried to catch the eddy to wait for them but missed it, and proceeded to go through point break backwards. Needless to say I swam and my quick release leash got wrapped around my leg.
- Do you do any type of winter training?
I do some cross-country skiing, but probably not regularly enough to call it “training”. The pole plant is really similar to the SUP forward stroke.
- What’s your dream run or trip?
There are too many to count, but one that is high on my list is Bowron Lakes on a SUP.
- What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen while paddling?
Last summer my friends at Fine Line SUP in Revelstoke showed us a really cool spot in one of the creeks where the murky water from the glacier run off meets the clear water of Lake Revelstoke, and there’s a really defined line. If you float across it and drag your hand in the water you will feel the water temperature drop about 10 degrees instantly.
- What’s the best advice you would give to someone brand new to SUP?
RELAX! A lot of beginners are really tense and try to balance by gripping the board with their feet. Those people usually go for a swim.
- If you could go paddling with anyone in the world past or present who would it be?
My Grandma Bell, I would have loved to be able to show her the sport that has become such a big part of my life.
- Is there anything you would change about sport?
Not everyone sees the value in taking a lesson on flatwater. Being comfortable on the board is great, but there’s so much more knowledge that can be gained from a lesson. And, it helps you build a foundation with proper technique that can help you progress to more advanced disciplines like river, surfing or touring. It’s much harder to break bad habits down the road.
- If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
Since I was a kid living in the middle of nowhere and had the longest bus ride out of my entire class, I have always wanted to teleport. You can bet I would be travelling a lot farther than the Okanagan for my weekend paddles.
- Is there anything I missed you wanted to add?
Don’t be shy to come paddle with me this summer!
Get in touch on Instagram @robynintherockies. Or Facebook @Robyn Bell