Meet Teneale Hatton
Fans of the Mullet and Paddle Monster are going to be seeing a lot of Teneale Hatton in the next day or two. She’s the newest coach to join the Paddle Monster team. She will be offering online coaching for surf ski and kayak in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at three levels: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Teneale is a six-time World Champion paddler with a pretty impressive list of accomplishments to boot, including:
- 2012 Olympian for Team New Zealand
- 6-time World Champion K1 1000m, K1 5000m, Open Ocean ski, U23 Marathon, U23 Ocean Ski, Open Double Ski
- World Record K1 1000m 2014
- 10-time Canoe Sprint World Cup medalist
- 10-time Ocean Ski World Series gold medalist
- New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Team 2011-2016
- AUT Blues awards 2013, 2014, 2015
- New Zealand Blues awards 2011
When she’s not racing, Teneale is a surfer and an all-around adventurer. She recently took some time out from her busy schedule to tell us what she loves most about paddling, and what it’s like to explore her native New Zealand.
What do you love most about paddling surfski? How is it different from other paddle craft, besides its speed, of course!
I like surf ski because you can literally paddle it in any conditions minus if the lake is iced over but it goes well in flat, in surf, in chop. Its more stable so it’s a bit more forgiving than a sprint kayak. I also love the community, I can go for a sick downwind paddle with my mates, hooting a hollering the how way yet have a great work out at the same time. That’s hard to find for many sports.
It is also so accessible, all ages, shapes and sizes can get in it as long as there is a body of water. I also have had the opportunity to paddle with dolphins, blue whales, hump back whales, orcas, turtles, manatees, stingrays and sharks!
How did you get into paddling surf ski, or just paddling in general?
I started off getting into surf ski at around 12 years old with surf life saving. I loved it, although I struggled to get the hang of it for quite a while I just loved getting out there. Once I got the hang of things I decided to head across to Australia and try step up my level of training and competition for surf lifesaving and ski paddling. While I was there I was given an opportunity to give sprint kayaking a go, which was also great for my ski training.
Once I returned to NZ I got into sprint kayaking there and was given some opportunities to race, this resulted in opportunities to race internationally. Following this I realized you could make the Olympics with kayaking so I stuck with it. Yet surf ski has always played a huge part in my life. I continued to train surf ski and race surf lifesaving although my time started to focus a bit more on kayaking. I then got to a point where I wanted a change of focus so put started to get back into surf ski racing and discovered the surf ski world series which I have been into ever since.
What was it like the very first time you got in a ski?
Honestly… very tippy!! It took me so long to get the hang of! But as much as I fell out I loved it and kept coming back for more
Tell us about the best things about paddling in your home country of New Zealand…
The best part about surf ski paddling in New Zealand is that we are surrounded by water and such a diverse coastline that there are just so many places to paddle and explore. So many amazing views which some people will never see that can only be accessed by boat.
What are the biggest challenges to paddling in New Zealand?
I think the biggest one for me is that where I am based it doesn’t snow in winter. It gets really cold but if you rug up warm you can paddle so there is never really a good enough excuse to not paddle in winter!!
What are your ideal conditions for racing? What kind of conditions do you enjoy the most – flatwater, open ocean, all of the above?
This is tricky one, I love racing downwind, its just so much fun! Yet due to my kayaking background I also like flat conditions because you can get into a good rhythm and get some good work done.
When you are not in your surf ski, what do you enjoy doing – for cross training and for fun?
I love spending time at the beach surfing (I’m still learning) or going on adventures. On my days off I try find a new place to explore.
What is your advice for someone who is interested in paddling surf ski but isn’t sure if they want to take the plunge?
I think the best advice would be watch some awesome downwind youtube videos because they will make you just want to get out there! But also, just go out for a go, its ok to tip a few times, because once you get the hang of it it is just so much fun!
What about for someone who wants to try racing?
Find some local races, give them a go. Everyone has to start somewhere. Its also such a great way to meet new friends, paddling buddies etc. I have met some of my best friends just from going to events, having a chat on the start line or afterwards etc. Its great way to reignite your passion for the sport again or give you a bit more purpose for your training. It can be intimidating to start with but everyone will have had there first race at some point, why not make yours now?
What is the one thing that might surprise people to know about paddling surf ski?
A lot of paddling is leg and body based rather than arms so you don’t have to get massive biceps to paddle!
Are there any preconceptions about surf ski paddling you’d like to set the record straight on?
I think a lot of people thing that surf ski paddling is super long and boring but its not. Find a group of mates to make it fun, or change up where you paddle, chase those downwind conditions and you will seriously not realize you just did 20km because you surfed nearly all the way home!