FREE SHIPPING on $49

Ambassador: Al Van Gieson

How did you come to know of KIALOA and how did you team up – what was the evolution of this relationship?

I fell in love with Kialoa paddles the minute I first picked one up. Everything else I had used felt like a pencil but that Kialoa felt like a paddle. It wanted to go in the water vertical, something I had previously really struggled with, and it just felt really good and natural, like an extension of my body as opposed to a tool I was holding. That created a whole different experience and interaction with the water.

What does being a steward of the KIALOA brand mean to you?

It’s about the love of paddling, and being on the water with friends and new faces and sharing what we love together.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I started SUP in 2010 after I finished graduate school and decided I wanted to teach/coach surfing. SUP was so similar to things I loved about ski racing growing up but more favorable to the way my body works and it is on the water in Hawaii. I had been dreaming of getting to paddle daily in Hawaii since childhood when my dad’s friend would let us paddle his home made kayaks at summer camp. Nowadays I SUP race, teach/coach surfing and SUP, I also started paddling 6 man canoe this year and have been training on surfski. Some days it is seriously like “pinch me I can’t believe I get to be here dong this every day.”

2017 - What events will you participate in?

SUP

  • Kanaka Ikaika Series
  • Noosa Festival of Surfing
  • Okulai Elite Women’s SUP
  • Haleiwa SUP Race 12’6 Elite Division
  • Maui Jim Oceanfest
  • Blue Planet/Wet Feet WPA Regional Championship
  • Maui 2 Molokai 
  • Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships Mixed Relay Team Division
  • Blue Planet/Wet Feet WPA National Race
  • Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge Elite Division
  • Hawaii Paddleboard Championships
  • Pacific Paddle Games
  • The Doctor
  • King of the Cut

6 man Canoe

  • Novice B races on Oahu
  • Distance Season

What community events, charity participation or other organizations are you a part of?

My schedule is so sporadic, I try to do small stuff, pick up trash when I’m paddling. I also help rescue and foster sick and injured animals. Other than that, I do my best to spread the stoke of surfing and paddling, like giving beginners technique tips when I’m out paddling or donating my endurance coaching services to people competing for a cause, or just trying to get more people to come to a race. 

What's are some of your favorite things to do? 

Training, Paddling with friends, short boarding with my better half, taking care of our rescue animals, racing (I love the intensity).

What's your favorite food?

My boyfriend’s cevice, my family spaghetti recipe, breakfast.

What music are you listening to these days – what is on your favorite playlist?

This is funny but I’ve been all about Jimmy Buffet radio on Pandora lately. It reminds me that I’m not really going to work in the morning, I’m on a beach in Hawaii and that’s awesome.

How did you get started in Paddle sports?

My dad’s friend would let us paddle his home made kayaks at camp on Lake Tahoe when I was 12, thats when I fell in love with paddling. It took almost a decade and a half before I got the opportunity to really start paddling.
What is your pre-race meal? Whatever I can get down in the morning, usually coffee and yogurt, a smoothie or breakfast sandwich. Then Infinit Nutrition Jet Fuel pre-race.

What do you like to eat/drink after paddling?

Infinit nutrition MUDD.

Grateful paddling moment?

I think my most grateful/emotional moments have at the M2O finish line.

What was your scariest paddling experience?

Olukai 2015, I was hit in the head by my unlimited race board in the last part of the race with the force of a 20 knot wind behind it and trying to come to my senses with age group men yelling at me to get out of their way. It hit me in the left temple and I had a pretty nasty little concussion. I’m so grateful that I wasn’t out cold for more than a second I’m not sure what would have happened if that had been the case.

Tell us a little about how you train for paddling races?

I change it up every year, keep the body guessing, but I usually do a couple days a week of strength training, one of those at Tactical Strength and Conditioning. Then this year I’ve been really blessed to cross train in paddle sports. Previous years have been mostly surf, swim, bike, run, SUP. This year it has been surf, 6 man canoe, surfski, swim, bike, run, SUP. Usually I SUP 3-4 days a week, 6 man has been 3-4 days a week, and I teach surfing almost every day.

Where is your favorite place to paddle?

There’s nothing like a day when the water is clear off of the shores of Waikiki.

Were did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in the Reno-Tahoe area, it was a huge beautiful mountain playground.

What are some of the crazy fads you and your friends went through?

Oh my goodness, we were so bad in my neighborhood. The gang thing hit and it was during the whole criss cross thing, everyone even the girls had their pants around their ankles and clothing backwards. Then in high school it was all about the grunge hippy thing, I had WAY too many Doc Martins and Birkenstocks!

What were some things that you and your friends did as kids?

Played outside A LOT. I had this hill in my year that we used to roll down, sled down, and eventually cardboard surf down. We all had serious swing sets too and a ton of rollerskating. We were even teaching ourselves jumps on roller-skates. We were a crazy bunch!

Something you want out of life?

To contribute.

What are some qualities that you value in a person?

Love for others, love for animals, work ethic. I’m sure I’m missing many other things.

What inspires you to do ‘good’ in the world?

If we aren’t doing good, then really what else is there?

Accomplishment(s)?

I think the toughest thing I ever have done, however, was a 3 day all nighter in my first semester of grad school at Cal. It involved translating something in an ancient Chinese dialect (that none of us spoke) into English and the professor would have been happy to fail us had it not been completely perfect. It was so much work and was incredibly hard! I didn’t think we’d ever get through it successfully, but by the grace of God we did.

If you could re-experience one thing in your life, what would it be?

Ski racing Super G in my late teens, and that moment on the Catalina solo paddle when dolphins came up under my board at night and were absolutely glowing. I was in so much pain from paddling on one side for 40 miles but those dolphins were AMAZING!

What are some goals your still trying to accomplish?

Winning races. Learning new paddle sports. Constantly becoming a better athlete.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Tenacious, Hard Working, Passionate.

What time of day do you like best and why?

Morning, it’s always beautiful in the morning.

Would you rather be able to fly or to breathe under water?

Breathe under water.

Any nicknames you go by?

Haha my family has one for me, but its between us. The other one was given by Uncle Blue in Waikiki after I cracked my head open on a SUP paddle at work, haha it was Puka Head. I was so excited because getting a beach name is a big deal let alone from Uncle Blue. He is an absolute legend! Even if my beach nickname is “hole in the head”, lol.