SUP International catch up with Starboard team rider and ocean expert, Zane Schweitzer for this insightful interview of his last few months activities before and during the Corona crises!
Photos: John Carter
SUP INT: Is it true you proposed to Kim while on a SUP board on the ocean? Tell us the story…
ZS: Back in August I decided to propose to my best friend and the love of my life. When I first met Kim, I promised her I’d teach her how to surf and one of our first dates were at the beach doing just that. Flash forward three and a half years and Kim has fallen in love with the ocean and surfing which only made me more in love with her! When thinking about something special I could do for her to remember an amazing proposal all that seemed right was to do it in the ocean! I came up with a plan to surprise her which involved a tandem surf photoshoot that was “supposedly” organized by her bikini sponsor, Pakaloha. I had a beautiful Haku and lei made for her and Kim was excited for her shoot, but when we arrived to the beach she liked the look of the waves so much that she almost cancelled the tandem surf photoshoot so that she could free surf on her own board for the afternoon! I didn’t want to give it away and be suspicious, so I offered to drive back home and get her board, luckily, she decided to stick with the plan to Tandem Surf. With a ring box hidden away in my pocket, and my beautiful girlfriend in my hand we walked to the ocean and paddled out together on my big Starboard Avanti which is perfect for tandem rides and maybe some extra volume for dropping a knee!
We caught a few rides then finally I saw the perfect wave, and I knew it was the ride that would seal our commitment to one another. I Paddled into the wave and lifted Kimberly onto my shoulders and we enjoyed a nice ride together. Before I set her down and dropped my knee, I remember looking up and seeing her smiling with all the beautiful flowers and throwing shakas in towards our fake photoshoot photographer, and with a little bit more ride left in the wave I knew this was the moment. When I placed her back down onto the board, she continued to ride the wave looking towards shore and I dropped to my knee behind her, reached into my pocket, and opened the ring box while calling her name. When she turned around, she saw me holding the ring on one knee and I asked her, “Will you ride this wave with me together for life?”. She got shaky in the legs and almost fell off the board then quickly dropped down to her butt in shock hugging me and hysterically crying, “yes!”. In that moment Kim’s family and mine came out from hiding behind the park and got to welcome us back to shore with our commitment to one another.
Still can’t believe I asked my girlfriend to marry me on a wave and ride this wave of life together, and she said yes! Launiupoko Beach Park is where I first learned to surf as a baby, and this is also where I took Kim on our first date, that’s why I thought it would be the most special place for our Surfing Proposal!
SUP INT: How is the lock down situation on Maui right now?
ZS: The lockdown situation on Maui and throughout the Hawaiian Islands seems to be continuing to escalate. At the moment we are still able to access the ocean, but we are technically supposed to all be on mandatory home Quarantine. All businesses are shut down, public gatherings are prohibited, social distancing encouraged, and starting this weekend people will not be able to exercise or walk/run on or around the beaches, let alone sit on the beach. For the most part, I am very grateful to be home with my family during these crazy transformative times and as well still have access to nature. My family and I all live together in Lahaina on the west side of Maui on our family farm where we have been spending a lot more time together! I’ve been so busy following competition for Surf, Stand Up Paddle and Windsurf over the last decade that this year will be the most time I’ve spent home and with family since I was 16! Even though I am trying to look at the bright side of all this, our ohana has been taking precautions seriously. we’ve been expanding our family farm with the goal to be a bit more self-sustainable as there are growing risks for going out to shop at store and as well stores limiting their items. A lot of people are struggling here on the islands though, maybe not from the virus directly, but many families and children rely on their daily meals at work or at school. So, we are all being affected by this globally in one way or another!
SUP INT: How was the situation when you tried to return from Bali when all this broke out?
ZS: My last big adventure before home quarantine on Maui, was in Indonesia during a Starboard photo shoot and as well on location for a Sup longboard competition. When I departed Maui for this trip things weren’t so crazy, but it seems within my 25 hours of travel from Hawaii to Bali, things were starting to hit the fan and global leaders were starting to make travel bans. I remember landing en route to Bali and everyone’s phones blowing up with the news of exploding coronavirus cases globally and as well with messages from my family recommending, I turn around and head back home… But me being the optimist I am, I was going to stick to my commitment and presence in Bali. Every flight that I landed from and by the time I arrived, I wasn’t sure if that decision and commitment I made was the right choice. Especially when getting to my hotel and finding out that I was one of only three riders that turned up to the photoshoot and that the competition was cancelled! I ended up staying for three days and we finished up all necessary shots on our shot list, then with a great effort of my family and fiancé, they got me on an emergency flight back home to Hawaii.
SUP INT: How are you training both on and off the water and what is a typical work out?
ZS: Honestly, I’ve been taking this time as an opportunity for break, family, projects that have been put aside and recharge! So, my normal routine both personal and professional has been changed up quite a bit. Something that hasn’t changed is my daily journaling routine along with yoga and strength training that I can do at home with resistance bands.
I’m still able to get in the water so for sure have been doing that when the waves and wind is good. I’ve been Windsurfing more than I normally get to, fishing and diving more than normal to bring fresh food back to the family and my fiancé and so this has been keeping me healthy for sure!
SUP INT: What foods do you eat?
ZS: I’ve been eating whole food plant-based for almost 4 years now, with the exception of fish that I’ve caught sustainably. Still yet, more than 90% of my diet is vegan and I’ve been feeling strong day after day! I love power smoothies filled with superfoods and fresh fruit or oatmeal in the morning and throughout the day eat a lot of beans, sprouts, rice and greens like arugula and brussel sprouts. My fiancé and I love getting creative with home cooked vegan meals and we get a lot of recipes from nutritionfacts.org ain’t with minimalistbaker.com.
SUP INT: How important is it for you to spread the message of looking after the environment especially in the ocean?
ZS: As an ocean expert, advocate and enthusiast it’s greatly important for me to inspire stewardship towards the environment and the oceans within my community and all around the world. We all have the power of choice on a daily basis to contribute towards the solution of the problem of our current environmental crisis. With daily Blue Life Choices, we can start to become more confident that our actions are part of the solution! Search #DeepBlueLife and #BlueLifeChoices on Instagram for ideas to bring to your lifestyle!
SUP INT: What is your ambition in SUP wave competition?
ZS: Stand up paddle surfing has always been a venue for me to express creativity in my Paddle Enhanced Surfing and in wave riding in general. Competitive Sup surfing has been driving my motivations to train and it’s been a continuous goal of mine each year to push the limits of what’s possible in SUP. I’ve really been drawn towards the high-performance aspect of the sport and as well big wave SUP surfing. I would love to see more competitions move towards Big Wave venues and as well open up more events for Longboard Sup Riding!
SUP INT: What is the highlight of your career so far?
ZS: I’ve had so many amazing experiences in the world of Standup paddling. From seeing countries that I never thought I’d visit before, making friends on all corners of the world, riding some of the worlds most renowned big wave locations, to co-founding the StandUp For The Cure event and bringing together thousands of people to enjoy the sport of SUP while supporting the fight against Breast Cancer and Melnoma. In general, the highlight of my career has been the amazing opportunity to experience the world and its people through my competitive and coaching endeavours to over 50 countries all around the world! The competitive highlight of my stand-up paddle career over the last decade is for sure between these three events: The Ultimate Waterman Competition in New Zealand, The Sapinus Pro StandUp World Tour event and the ISA Fiji world Games. These events were held at amazing waves that were big and barrelling and this is the type of conditions that I love riding in the most!
SUP INT: Why do you love SUP?
ZS: Stand up paddling is such a diverse sport. You can practice it on any day and on any body of water- from waves in the ocean, to lagoons and tide pools in bays, to lakes and rivers inland, you can almost always have a good time on a SUP Board. It’s also a sport that can be enjoyed by most people in your circle, from family, friends and pets, to young children and the elderly, everyone can learn how-to stand-up paddle safely with the right equipment. This attracts me a lot especially as the world of Ocean sports and the lifestyle that comes along with them has opened up a whole new mindset for me, and as well for most who catch the bug! Once we learn to enjoy an activity in nature that can bring us so much joy and connect us to nature, we start to want to protect that natural environment! The more ocean enthusiasts we have in our communities globally, the more people will honour our environment!
SUP INT: Do you think you will be competing again this year?
ZS: I most definitely have faith that things will start to turn for the better soon this year. I am still hopeful that I will be able to compete in the last three stops of the Sup surfing world tour in Spain, Portugal and as well Barbados. But who knows! Only time will tell, and I’ll be ready when it’s time!!
SUP INT: Do you think the world will ever return to normal?
ZS: There are parts of me that believe many things we’ve grown up with as “normal”, may not be accepted once this is all settled. Intimate actions like hugs and kisses to your friends or newcomers may be something of the past for a bit. Our standard education system in the United States and around the world is near its expiration date I’d say, and I believe we will see a new generation of knowledge seekers coming soon. I grew up in and out of standard schooling and online schooling and I found that having an open mind to seeking knowledge from multiple venues of education is important. From mentorship, internship and experience building means of seeking knowledge. I believe we should be hungry to learn and that our standard schooling system has taught kids to do just the opposite by stripping away time for desired experience in the real world with mentorships or the ability to manage your own time and resources. We live in a day and age where we have all the tools we need to learn; we just need kids that are motivated and driven with purpose
SUP INT: How important is social media to keep up your profile as an athlete right now?
ZS: I am more grateful for Social Media than ever, as it’s keeping my friends and I connected and as well giving many an opportunity to feed knowledge and seek knowledge.
SUP INT: What are your three words to live by?
ZS: “Innovate and Inspire” has always been my motto and what drives me daily to innovate the things I’m most passionate about along with find and share inspiration along the way. And if I were to choose three separate words to live by it would simply be, Gratitude, Creativity and Enthusiasm.