Professional stand-up paddle boarder Slater Trout is best known for his skill on the water as a fierce competitor who’s been racing on SUPs around the globe for longer than nearly any other athlete in the sport. Born in Florida and raised in Hawaii, Trout took up paddleboarding at the age of 11 when the sport was seen by many as a leisure activity for older surfers. Despite this reputation, Trout took up the sport at an early age just as things began to evolve and reach more extreme levels.
Today, Slater Trout is one of the most accomplished SUP athletes in the sport, having most recently finished in first place in the Pro Men’s Distance Race at the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest representing Team Infinity SUP.
Slater’s performance on the water, however, is not the only thing that sets him apart. A few years ago, Trout began chasing a new passion – skydiving.
Learn about Slater Trout’s journey from land to air to sea in the Q&A below.
Q: When you were a kid, stand-up paddling was not widely known as a cool sport – or even a sport at all. What made you gravitate towards paddling over other activities like surfing? And how have things changed since you were a kid?
A: I grew up “regular” surfing which is your classic lay down paddling on a shortboard or longboard. I always wanted to be a professional surfer growing up on the Gulf Coast of Florida. When my family picked up and moved to Hawaii shortly after I had graduated 5th grade, I knew that dream was now a possibility.
When we landed on Maui, which would become home for the next 7 years, I discovered Stand Up Paddling, which was a relatively new sport at the time and only 3-4 other guys were doing it, but as soon as I tried it, I knew that was my calling.
In the first few years of the sport, it was mostly older guys; I was really the only kid who took it full on right away. I originally competed against guys double and triple my age, but I guess I just saw the future of the sport and where it could go. Now 10 years later I am still traveling the world competing on the APP Stand Up Paddle Racing World Tour. The sport of Stand Up Paddling has brought me more opportunities then I could ever imagine. And I’ve made some life long friends along the way.
Q: You’ve had a pretty impressive track record in SUP competitions. What’s been the most fulfilling moment in your SUP career so far? Are there any big accomplishments that stand apart from the others?
A: I have been competing in Stand Up Paddling longer than just about anyone I compete against now. I’ve had some amazing wins and some heart breaking losses in my career, but my most memorable race still has to be the 2009 Battle Of the Paddle when I took 2nd place at 14 years old in our sport’s biggest race. My most heartbreaking race was losing the 2016 World Championship Sprint finals in Fiji. I was leading the race most the way with Casper (a Danish Paddler) when a random wave on our last lap carried him to the finish, passing me in the last 200 yards. It’s all a learning experience, though!
Q: What types of training do you do to stay in shape for races? How much time a week do you spend on the water and in the gym?
A: Stand Up Paddle racing is a very grueling and physical sport. Our body types and training regimes have been compared to triathletes, swimmers, cyclist, etc. Our sport is an endurance sport. I train Monday through Saturday with Sunday being my only rest day. A day of training usually consist of an early morning swim in the pool, a later morning paddle, afternoon gym session, late afternoon run, evening spin on a stationary bike, and night time yoga / ice bath.
Q: You’ve taken on a new passion in the last couple years with a bit of a thrillseeking edge to it. What made you want to try skydiving? How did you get into it?
A: I have always been intrigued by skydiving and the feeling of weightlessness while falling through the air. In high school during my senior year, I did my senior project on Skydiving. Somehow my teachers agreed to let me study the sport and actually do my entire project on it. After my first jump, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to get my solo license, it was just a matter of time. Finally a few years later in November of 2015 at the start of my off season, I dedicated a week to skydive training school and received my solo jumping license.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to chase after your solo-skydiving certification and how long did it take you?
A: Once I started the process I had my license in a week. It all went by pretty fast. I started excelling quickly and had 100 solo jumps within the first 60 days of being licensed.
Q: How many solo jumps do you think you’ve done since you first became certified?
A: Right now I’m at 262 jumps and counting.
Q: Where is the coolest place that you’ve jumped?
A: I have had the dream come true of jumping all over the world. I would say the coolest place and best jump I have ever done was over a small island in Panama. My buddy and I jumped out of a seaplane and landed on a tiny beach where we were greeted by cold beers and a sunset pool party at the local resort. Not a bad way to enter a pool party!
Q: I follow you on Instagram and it seems like you jump nearly twice a week – how do you manage to get up there that frequently? You’ve gotta be racking up some serious frequent flier miles by now.
A: I try to jump as often as I can. The Skydive Drop Zone (DZ) where I jump is only an hour from my house so its pretty convenient to go out there on my rest days when I’m not training. I would say I get about 8-10 jumps in a month on average. More in the winter when its my off season.
Q: Do you think the thrill and intensity of skydiving helps you in competition and training at all? Or is it purely a hobby?
A: I think it helps me in the way that it keeps things exciting. I have been competing in this sport every year for 10 years straight. Skydiving gives me something new to do and look forward to. It keeps things fresh.
Q: You’ve competed in some of the most intense SUP races, skydived in places all around the world, and got your SCUBA certification on an odyssey in the Florida Keys not too long ago. What’s next on your list for thrill-seeking activities?
A: And I feel like i’m just getting started! Next up for me is focusing on my Stand up Paddle racing season and qualifying for Team USA again for the World Champs in September. I had a great start to the season winning the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest 10k a few weekends ago.
To follow Slater Trout on his SUP and skydiving adventures. click HERE.