Catching up with Paddle League World Champion Sonni Hönscheid
Few paddlers can claim as many elite victories as veteran SUP racer Sonni Hönscheid, yet somehow, her trophy case continues to grow. Last season Sonni opened the season with a gold medal at Carolina Cup, carrying her momentum to podiums at a slew of other marquee races with her Tiger SUP racing fin, her results culminating into a Paddle League World Champion title. Sonni did all this whilst preparing an art exhibit (she moonlights as a painter) and working with her sponsors to create new designs. We caught up with the woman who does it all for a some insight on how she does it.
What have you been up to this offseason?
My last race of the season was just two weeks ago on Gran Canaria, where I became European Champion. Since then, I spent some time with my family on the Canaries now I’m on Maui for a few weeks visiting my good friends, downwinding, surfing and learning how to foil. I have also been working on some new art for Starboard 2020, so I’m very stoked about the chance to combine my two passions in one!
You worked hard in 2018 and had a standout season. What went into earning the Women’s Paddle League World Champion title?
From boards to paddles to fins I have the best equipment to compete with, which showed a lot this season. Winning the first race of the season (Carolina Cup) showed me were I was with my performance, which motivated me a lot for the races ahead. My goal was to win the Tour before my art exhibition in August. The opening of my exhibition was at the same time as the event in Hood River and the night before I was pretty sure I’d won the tour. So that was cool. All the stops were in beautiful locations around the world with very different conditions, great people, different cultures, amazing landscapes. Being able to do this tour is already unreal, winning it, its indescribable. I’m just super stoked!!
What was the toughest event you took on last year and why was it challenging?
At the SUP Japan Cup I had a bad start and had to make up a lot of ground. The challenge was the moment were I decided to make a move and pull away from the others, take the risk and make my own path. Turned out so far it was one of the best tactical decisions I made in racing. I learned a lot this year in that regard.
What was the most rewarding event of your 2018 season and why?
All of the events were really rewarding, as each event was so different. But I guess Carolina Cup could be the one, as I always wanted to win that race.
How do you feel about the evolution of women’s SUP racing, how it’s grown and where it is today?
It has been a great evolution so far. It’s getting more competitive and the level is getting higher and higher. It would be nice to see more women racing, but its slowly coming! It’s great to see how everyone is pushing and hungry to win. Altogether there’s a good vibe—everyone is competitive in the water but there’s lots of camaraderie and respect for each others performances.
What changes do you hope to see in the future of women’s SUP racing?
I’d like to see men and women racing on the same board size and winning the same prize money with no exceptions. It’s already moving in this direction, but it should have been equal since day one.
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