At 16, Tucker Ingalls can already say that he has more than 10 years of experience in the water. First introduced to surfing by his father at the age of three, Tucker understood early on that he had a strong passion for the ocean and knew he wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a professional athlete. As his surfing progressed, Tucker was introduced to the world of stand-up paddleboarding where his journey towards fulfilling that dream became a reality. At 10, Tucker competed in his first stand-up paddleboard event and now travels and competes internationally for brands like Naish, FCS, Oakley and GoPro. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on joining the Teva team, what it’s like to be a modern waterman and his thoughts on paddling the upcoming Molokai to Oahu race.
How exciting to have joined the Teva team. What’s the story behind you joining?
Well, I’ve lived in Santa Barbara all my life and Teva is also out here. Teva is pretty connected to stand up paddling so after a meeting with their athlete manager I joined the team. I’m so stoked!
What made you get into the sport? From what I understand you’re quite the waterman.
Five generations of our family are from Santa Barbara. I was born and raised on the mesa and my dad was a surfer. He was pushing me into waves as long as I can remember; in fact, I was riding on the nose of his board when I was about three. Things just progressed from there as a result of having a passion for the ocean.
My interest in stand up paddling grew from surfing. A few years ago I started competing and more recently started taking it to the next level competing with professionals.
How did you get into competing?
I’ve always been competitive and that came with surfing. When I started stand up paddling I had an urge to win, try my best and get judged for it.
I imagine a lot of training goes into competitive stand up paddling, especially with a long distance race like this Molokai event. What does your program consist of?
Before I left for Hawaii I went down to Newport to train with Jimmy Terrell, Jamie Mitchell and Matt Becker. It’s always good to train with people who are faster than you. Those guys really helped with my stroke, technique and where to stand on the board. Everybody has their own unique style but if you take a little bit from each person you can really perfect yours. While I’ve been in Hawaii I’ve paddled 35 miles just for training. Outside of that, I’m constantly in the ocean, running the beach, paddling, canoe surfing; you name it.
Would you say you have a specific style?
Gliding on the water or riding waves—it’s all the same thing no matter what you’re doing. We’ve seen a big change in the past few years with stand up paddling, especially with people like Kelly Slater and Ian Cairns getting into the sport. It’s cool to see the field mellowing out a little bit.
What’s life like outside of surfing and stand up paddling?
That’s pretty much my life; in fact, I try and get into the water as much as I can. It’s where I feel most comfortable.
You can follow Tucker Ingalls on his Twitter.
Founded in 1997, the 16th annual Molokai-2-Oahu race will take place this coming Sunday, July 29th, 2012. In honor to the watermen before them and in celebration of their own passion for life on the water, Jamie Sterling and Tucker will join together as a team to attempt to cross the 32 miles of treacherous open ocean known as the Ka’iwi (kah-EE-vee) Channel, or the Channel Of Bones, from Kaluakoi Beach on the north shore of Molokai to Maunalua Bay on the south shore of Oahu. For more information visit: www.molokai2oahu.com.