When I did one of my first standup paddle board races two years ago, The Toona Challenge, I remember watching an adorable and athletic Heather Frogge paddle past me (quickly), smiling all the way to her first place finish. She loves this relatively new sport, and it shows with every stroke on her SUP. Heather works in Sandy Springs and paddles regularly, hitting the racing circuit and encouraging newcomers to try the sport. I caught up with Heather and drilled her about why spending time on her SUP makes her so happy.
SGC: When did you discover your love of the SUP?
HF: I tried a board the first time on vacation in 2010, then my dad called to say COSTCO was selling paddleboards. Yes, my first board was a cheap inflatable from Costco in April 2011. Inflatables have come a long way since then! The first time I ever paddled with anyone, I discovered my paddle was backwards. Next I ordered my Surftech Generator 11’6 surf style board and my world changed! I’m pretty vain about my boards now (right down to matching outfits to boards).
SGC: When did the race bug bite?
HF: I did my first race on Cinco de Mayo in 2012. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how to steer, and I didn’t know about the different classes. I passed out after the race. Then, I started paddling almost every day at Lake Tobosofkee in Macon until I moved to Atlanta. I chose to live close to the Chattahoochee River and within a decent drive to Lake Lanier. I started to get in shape and get pretty good throughout 2013. I upgraded to my Candice Appleby Surftech BARK 12’6 race board in May 2013 and went from back of the pack to close to winning races! I did Chattajack in 2013 – 31+ miles through the Tennessee River Gorge. I’ve done Chattajack three times now, each year with a different board and a different goal. I upgraded to a custom race board in 2014 and I dropped 31 minutes. I have learned something at every race I’ve been to. I’ve done the Standup for the Hooch race by High Country Outfitters each year since I moved to Atlanta. I came in behind Kim Hillhouse for second place in 2014. I raced the Toona Challenge on Lake Allatoona in 2013 and 2014. Last year I started my switch from SUP to Prone; this doesn’t really give me much local competition because most people don’t even know what Prone is – I just want people to see it!
SGC: Can you suggest a good board for a beginner?
HF: If you want to just paddle around and enjoy the water with kids, you should go surf style. If you want to shoot for distance or ease paddling in rougher waters, go with a race or touring board. Demo, Demo, Demo! YOLO and BOTE makes some really pretty surf style boards. Naish makes some super fun and maneuverable Surf Style Boards. Surftech is a great company that has been around forever; for the recreational paddler, you can get a Bamboo Board but you won’t get decorative sea turtles or camo on their boards. SUP has really gotten popular in the past three years; go to your local sporting goods stores and ask someone. Also, Distressed Mullet is good website to check out.
SGC: Where do you take your board for a quick paddle if you only have a few hours?
I will typically launch from Azalea Park and either paddle upstream to 400 or downstream to Morgan Falls. I like to paddle out from Mary Alice Park at Lake Lanier and depending on weather, if it’s getting dark or boat traffic, head out towards the Dam.
SGC: What kind of conditioning helps with your paddling?
I try to toss in hiking, indoor rock climbing, ice skating, swimming, and weights when I can’t paddle. Swimming is one of the best all-around workouts and the movements are similar to my Prone paddling. For Distance racing, I really need to build up strength so gym workouts are a must.
Check out this site for all things SUP in our region, SouthernStokeRace.com.