Blonde Ambition – SUP Star April Zilg on the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge
Over the last few years, North Carolina native April Zilg has established herself as one of the most accomplished east coast female SUP riders out there today. Initially taking to the sport while completing her masters in marine science at the University of North Carolina, Zilg was drawn to SUP as a way to stay in shape and meet new people. The rest is history, as they say. A waterwoman par excellence, Zilg has since become regional director at the WPA stand-up paddleboard specialist at Carolina Paddleboard Co. and she regularly competes in SUP events all across the country. One such event is the forthcoming Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, in which Zilg will compete this coming weekend. We sat down with the bona fide SUP enthusiast to learn a bit more about her SUP journey so far and her participation in this weekend’s competition in Hood River, Oregon.
Where did it all begin for you and SUP?
It all started back in 2011 when I chose to use SUP as a means to get healthier and fitter.
You’re set to take part in the forthcoming Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge 2017 in Hood River, Oregon. This isn’t your first time participating. What does this particular event mean to you?
This will be my third time competing in the Gorge. I love the downwind race in particular. Though there was no wind the first year I competed, which was a challenge to say the least. For me, it’s a really fun event with unique and challenging conditions that I don’t get to experience very often. I see each year as a learning experience and a chance to test my “east coast” downwind skills in a true, consistent downwind run.
Aside from the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, what goals and objectives do you have for the weeks and months ahead?
My current goals include enjoying the last of the summer and my favorite time of year – fall – here in North Carolina. As the surf improves in September and October, I should have some good waves to practice on for the Pacific Paddle Games.
What has been your proudest and your fondest moment in your SUP career to date?
I was very happy to finish fourth at the Carolina Cup this year. It’s my home town race and a very challenging and demanding course. I always strive to put forth my best performance for this race each year.
SUP can be a very physically demanding sport. Can you tell us a little bit about your training and fitness regime, and what you do to stay in shape and remain on the ball at all times?
I paddle year-round and supplement my on-water training with weights, running, and biking. I like to take breaks pretty regularly to surf, hike, or do something relaxing and active.
The WPA has been gaining a lot of ground lately. What advantages do you think an organisation like the WPA can bring to stand-up paddle as a sport?
I think the sport needs a governing body to keep races fair and enjoyable for all participants. Rules and guidelines also help keep costs down for racers while providing standards for paddlers to keep in mind while training.