Meet Maui’s Lara Claydon Maui SUP Surf Athlete and Amazing Young Woman
You know you’ve made the right choice in your life and career when you have the treasured opportunity to be able to connect to and with, a young, strong beautiful heart who is already a wise soul, seemingly to have already surfed a thousand waves and paddled a thousand miles. Well, knowing how she charges she just may have paddled and surfed that many waves and miles, and perhaps way beyond that. Some people just have a special something.
Training this young, bright, beautiful outgoing woman has been an incredible journey thus far and a great way to start the year and season! World, meet Maui’s own, Lara Claydon. She is a superstar surfer and stand up paddle athlete, a big sister to Kiki and Kai, and daughter to amazing parents, Andy and Jes. This family lives for the ocean and serves their community through Young Life Maui;dedicated to helping young people and their families thrive. And I must mention Snoopy, the family dog. Lara’s baby.
When I got the call from Lara that she was looking to really step it up this season, the way in which she approached me really impressed me right off the bat. The phone message alone would make any parent proud and anyone else want to hire her on the spot. When I interviewed Lara, she came prepared more than what I asked and that really got me. Any serious athlete that takes the time to send me in advance and prepare their race schedule, high-lighted in order of importance and why’ – I REALLY appreciate. Her ability to clearly articulate her strengths and lessons learned over past seasons and express her future desires is one of her many strengths. This allowed me to quickly assess and hone in on how she would thrive with me, how to set her up for success in a way that she could learn quickly and effectively.
She is dedicated in every way to learn how she can be her best from sunrise to sunset while still fulfilling her family’s needs and being able to balance her sports professional life and then her friends and not ever forgetting the support she receives from her sponsors; Lara has a full plate. Together we are a great team and are often on the phone, texting and training and forever keeping her mental game super sharp and a priority.
Her father Andy is a huge contributor to Lara’s success as well of course is her mom Jes who is always there in every way showing her love and support. Jes and I often collaborate on how best to set up Lara especially if she’s faced with an extra layer of challenge.
We set a plan and program in motion and off she went to the prestigious APP World Tour at Sunset Beach, in Oahu this past February. Faced with one of Hawaii’s coldest winters in history, rain like sleet and gigantic surf, Lara was there charging and dealing with harsh elements with a really solid field of female competitors. I am not going to give away our training methods but let’s just say that Lara was ready for war!
Most people would lose it and their legs would shake just standing at the water’s edge. Not Lara because this is just what she does. She eats, drinks and lives for the wave. Her mind is solid and while she was probably shivering cold in this photo she is there to work and perform. Don’t mind the brown water where sharks may be lurking. No worries.
This entire week was epic and while dodging many cold days of down pours and messed up surf she paddled very well. The most important thing in this first season comp was that she committed super deep to the pocket, the most critical part of the wave. Keep in mind that Sunset Beach on Oahu is mainly reserved for big wave surfers and on any given day it’s rare to see a SUP. These particular heat competitions were long and often are all about timing and luck and whatever the ocean serves you. You can either get shut out with nothing for the judges, maybe just a few good ones or sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time! Lara knows how to be selective, patient and when to go. And then there are times where you just have to throw everything you’ve got.
Lara finished the competition with an equal 5th place and just barely missed the final by a fraction of a point. She was super stoked to start the year top 5 in the women’s division.
Touching ground back on Maui not long after was the infamous Legends of the Bay. This surf contest is hosted by Honolua Surf Company in her backyard break Honolua Bay, and is one the THE best surf breaks in the entire world. Not many people in the world have this special honor to say this where I play and train all the time.
This was a unique contest as Lara has competed in this for many years and often is confronted with the fear of “the Cave”, a wave that requires one to fully commit, is steep, big and a bit sketchy to navigate. Here’s what Lara had to say after nailing our feature wave photo here:
“Legends Of The Bay 2019 ⚡️ – Dropped my first ever Cave Wave, won my first heat, made it to the finals, competed with some of the most amazing watermen & longboarders ever, took 6th in Open Longboard & could not wipe the smile off my face all day! 🙈⚡️ – Thank you to Kiva Rivers & HSA – Hawaii Surfing Association for another amazing contest! 🙏🏼 My dad for taking pictures all day, coaching me & yelling at me to drop the bomb set waves! & everyone else for your love & support! So overwhelmed with joy! 💛 – Here is the full story of yesterday for those of you that want to read it! – 👇🏼——————————————————————————— Growing up on Maui I always heard about “The Cave” & how it was the most perfect wave BUT also how it was gnarly, scary & pretty heavy. For the past 3 years I have “competed” in the #legends contest BUT, I would paddle out & watch everyone catch these perfect waves while I sat there the whole heat! I was always to afraid of “the drop” so I never took a wave. This year that mentality switched for me & my goal was to drop 2 waves! In my first heat this perfect set wave came to me & something just clicked inside me & I just turned & went with out hesitation. It was the most perfect wave of my life! I could not stop smiling the whole wave & paddling back out! It was amazing! After my heat I came in just stoked that I accomplished my goal! Turns out I won my heat which meant I went straight into the finals! In the finals I got the opportunity to surf with some of the most amazing watermen in the world & some of the most ripping longerboards ever! It was super slow & inconsistent but in the final I managed to get another perfect set wave! 🙈 I ended up taking 6th in the final, but I did not care because it felt like 1st to me! I had accomplished my goal & surfed The Cave perfect with only 6 guys out & caught 4 waves! Definitely was one of the best days of my life!! It really showed me how strong I really am, how much stronger my mental game has gotten & that #themindwinsfirst !⚡️ “
Congrats Lara for a mental wave that you caught and you rode because of the belief in yourself. I couldn’t have been more proud of this moment for her and believe me when I say, this golden moment will remain and she will be in many more waves just like this for the rest of her life and for the rest of the season. This is what Lara does. Her mind won before she knew and again, THIS is the mind of a champion.
Please follow Lara on Instagram to get inspired and watch her success all throughout the year! https://www.instagram.com/lalaclaydon/
Suzie Trains Maui
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