SUP Connection: Tandem Fun with Kids

Mother-daughter stoke as Heather Relyea Baus and daughter, Savannah, stay in synch at the Carolina Cup.

Mother-daughter stoke as Heather Relyea Baus and daughter, Savannah, stay in synch at the Carolina Cup.

We recently posted an article by Cyril Burguiere that celebrated “family” as an integral part of his life, sports and SUP.  Earlier in that same week the crowd at the Carolina Cup clicked endless images of mother-daughter team, Heather Relyea Baus and her daughter Savannah as they tandem-ed their way through 12.5 mile “Graveyard” Elite Race course. I think the many participants and onlookers saw something more than two determined and prepared athletes competing in a very challenging race.  Heather says it best in her own words, “When we look back on the photos its all very surreal and inspiring to me as an athlete as well as a Mom.  I look at the photos and don’t really see us.. just something a lot deeper. ”  Browsing through a few sample images (below), you’ll feel the same something more!

The race, the hand-in-hand finish and the after race connection all capture a synchronicity of spirit nurtured through countless hours of shared fun and effort in, on and around the water. More images are available by Nicholas Leason.


Crucial to successfully completing the elite race course is the choice of SUP board.  Heather explains, “Nick Leason owner of MHL custom and shaper Greg Jaudon and myself decided to design a true unlimited board that could suit my daughter and me as a tandem board or super fast unlimited board for the solo guy.  The board is 16′ x 25″ .  This may seem narrow, but really the longer the board the more narrow you can go.  MHL has the magic touch for stability.  These guys are amazing. ” By the way, the mother-daughter team finished 5th overall females and 1st in class with a time of 2:44:06.

ES:  How did you train and what were some highlights of the race?

HRB:  We sort of eased into the “training” to where it didn’t feel like training but just time on the water together, we really enjoy this.  My daughter is quite the chatter box on the board and we both love the diversity of paddling in the panhandle area of Florida.  The conditions of the water, currents and wind are forever changing compared to our past experience when we lived in Puerto Rico.  I think what excites Savannah the most on our paddles is the diversity of nature we see  while out on the water.  This winter we focused on ocean skills and tandem downwinding technique. This has been a real thrill learning together and it certainly paid off at the Carolina Cup!

ES: The dialog between the two of you from the race that you posted on Facebook was priceless!    The dialog in general is pretty hilarious, mother and daughter have two very different takes on the experience as it unfolds.  Sampling below:

SAVANNAH: “Wow Mom did you see all those amazing houses??? MOM: “Hang tough S we’re leading the unlimited”! SAVANNAH: “Mom why aren’t you going faster??” MOM: “Because i’m dying”… SAVANNAH: “I’m gonna pop some tags.. I got 20 dollars in my pocket….!!” MOM: “Go S… Annabel Anderson is passing us!”… SAVANNAH: “OMG MOM!!!! Those waves are HUGE and they’re breaking!!!!!” MOM:..” WE GOT THIS”.. SAVANNAH: “How much farther”??

HRB: I think because she is not looking directly at “mom” she tends to open up more and really talk about things.  Some days are “serious matters”  you know… like informing she needs to change the trucks out on her skateboard…. to recipe ideas for dinner and I think an entire week of Harry Potter series summary.  OH and many, many National Anthem practices out on the water.. 🙂  The dialog for Carolina Cup was not as energized as training paddles..that was a really tough race for both of us.  However she did sing, comment on the gorgeous homes, inform me she had to pee.. and how much farther!

If you follow Heather on Facebook, you’ll notice a wide diversity of watersports she enjoys with her family.  I wondered if she always was a competitive athlete and what set her down the path toward being the waterwoman she is today.  heather shared some background, “Really, while growing up I was clueless about “competitive” sports.  I do remember being in junior high and getting to play volley ball. I was so naive that I didn’t realize there was actually a “first strong,” and then the rest of the team.  I just played and loved it – then made first string later.  Following the volleyball, I ran cross-country and pretty much choked on nerves at every race to the point where I didn’t enjoy it at all.
Luckily I incorporated running into my adult life for a small bit of fitness while mainly focusing on my aviation career.  Because of all the travel, most of my 20’s were spent running on hotel gym treadmills. The influence of water was pretty consistent as I was growing up.  Every weekend we went to the lake and just played. I waterskied and sailed on a Sunfish every chance I got. “
6Fun on water and fun sailing was woven into family life from the start.  Daughter, Savannah, started sailing and competing in regattas at age 6. Soon she wanted to accompany Mom on her training runs for the Molokai to Oahu race in 2011.  According to heather, “Savannah is very unique and I learn a lot from my daughter.  She has style both on and off the water.”   young
In the beginning of 2009 when Heather was still living in Puerto Rico, she won her second stateside race in a row in Seaside, FL. That caught notice from KIALOA Paddles who, according to Heather, “ROCKS!”
As a KIALOA team rider she has discovered the sense of “ohana” or family that is a KIALOA constant.  Being an ambassador for KIALOA has been an honor for Heather who describes which paddles she uses and why, “I personally use the KIALOA Toro for racing and the Methane for surfing. Savannah uses the Pipes most of the time but is just about tall enough to use my HULU.”
As the creator, designer and lead on the US made cool product called “Board Baggies,” Heather stays busy on and off the water. We look forward to some news about where she’s going with the product, stay tuned. You’re gonna want to see the new fabrics, colors and options.
We’re excited to publish this article in the appropriate time of year, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! The same sense of ohana (family) we mentioned earlier when describing the KIALOA way is a common quest for us all.  We look forward to seeing your ohana pictures and hearing your stories. Just e-mail us or MESSAGE us on Facebook.