3 local teens poised to challenge the elite at the Pacific Paddle Games

Behind every top SUP athlete, there’s a fresh crop of teen paddlers cutting their teeth on the water.

Shae Foudy is one of the top-ranked female SUP athletes in the world at 17 years old. Photo: Courtesy of Foudy.
Shae Foudy is one of the top-ranked female SUP athletes in the world at 17 years old. Photo: Courtesy of Foudy
Everyone wants to declare the young guns the “next generation” of elite athletes, but this time, the hype is real. 

Shae Foudy, Lex Alston and Jade Howson are three local teens set to compete against the best female paddlers in the world at the second annual Pacific Paddle Games (PPG), presented by SUP Magazine and Salt Life.

All three paddlers will race against a stacked field of elite athletes at Doheny State Beach — a California State Park — in Dana Point, California, in hopes of winning some of the $60,000 purse prize, the largest ever offered for a SUP event.

Howson maneuvering around an obstacle at the 2015 Pacific Paddle Games. Photo: Courtesy of Howson.
Howson maneuvering around an obstacle at the 2015 Pacific Paddle Games. Photo: Courtesy of Mike Muir
“My training for the PPG began the day after the event ended last year,” says Foudy, 17, who has been paddling competitively for three years. “I promised myself that I would put everything I have into training physically and mentally for 2016. Day in and day out I have been so focused and determined.”

Foudy’s steely resolve has manifested in a big way: Just a few weekends ago, the Dana Hills High School senior took first place at the Jamie Mitchel Waterman Festival at Huntington Beach, beating out “gnarly competition” like Candice Appleby, Annabel Anderson and Terrene Black.

Fourteen-year-old Jade Howson, currently ranked 14th in the world and a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, trains five days a week, spending three of them out on the water training with Mike and Jamie Eisert’s The Paddle Academy.

The other two days, she focuses on cross-training to prepare for the unpredictable conditions of her home break.

Jade Howson is one of the local teens taking on SUP's elite racers at the 2016 Pacific Paddle Games. Photo: Courtesy of Howson.
Jade Howson is one of the local teens taking on SUP’s elite racers at the 2016 Pacific Paddle Games. Photo: Courtesy of Ken Hedden
“Last PPG, we had pumping surf that none of us were used to,” she explains. “This year, I’ve trained more in the surf and feel more prepared than ever to go into double overhead waves.”

Despite surprise waves and top-ranking competition, 14-year-old Lexi Alston of Dana Point says she feels more confident having the home-venue advantage.

“Doheny is the first place I learned how to paddle,” says Alston, who came in fifth at the Jamie Mitchell Survivor Race in Huntington. “I spend most of my time training there, which makes me feel the most comfortable.”

With the chops to take on the world’s best (and the home-turf advantage on their side), this trio of soon-to-be’s prove SUP’s future is bright, determined and ready to get on the map.

Watch them in action Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2016 at Doheny State Beach.

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