Jenny was born and raised in Costa Rica. After graduating high school in San Jose, she moved to Vancouver, Canada to attend the University of British Columbia. In 2005, after graduating with a degree in psychology, Jenny moved to Kona, Hawaii. It was in Hawaii that she first learned to stand up paddle and she soon fell in love with the sport.
In 2008, Jenny won the inaugural Battle of the Paddle, emerging as a complete unknown to take the win. In 2009, she won the prestigious 32-mile Molokai to Oahu race, prompting Standup Paddle Magazine to name her one of the world’s elite paddlers. In 2010, she and Morgan Hoesterey set out on a mission to raise awareness for plastic contamination in the ocean. Their adventure, Destination 3 Degrees, spanned nearly 300 miles and crossed all the major channels in Hawaii, including the 82-mile Oahu to Kauai channel.
In 2011, Jenny was honored with SUP Awards Female Paddler of the Year. Paddling now for six years, she has established herself as one of the sport’s most high profile and recognizable racers. The evolution of the sport and her abilities has Jenny looking into the future for the next greatest adventure.
Q & A
When did you first start training in life? Where and why?
I probably started training in my mom’s womb. She did yoga and played tennis up until my due date, so I came out kicking and have been competitive ever since. But my real training started when I first learned to standup paddle, I still learn something new about training all the time. It’s exciting.
When did you turn pro?
In 2008 after winning the inaugural Battle of the Paddle. It was the first big SUP race and since I got paid, I guess that means I turned pro. I still find it funny though to call myself a professional SUP racer, so I usually just say it’s my expensive hobby.
What is your favorite distance to paddle?
I really enjoy the longer distance paddles. Once you pass the 20 mile mark and you’ve been on the water a few hours, you have to dig deep and work hard to maintain the focus. I like the challenge.
What are the events, wins, memories that stand out most throughout your career so far?
Winning the 2009 32-mile Molokai to Oahu is my most treasured win to date. It’s the world championship for SUP racing and it was my first time crossing the Kaiwi channel. I wanted to win but I had a lot of respect for the event and my competitors so I didn’t think I had a chance. When I neared the finish and they announced I was the first female, it was unbelievable. I smiled for a week straight after that
If there’s one thing that people in the industry would recognize you by, what would that be?
My passion for the environment and wanting to protect what we have.
Who was your inspiration growing up:
SUP wasn’t around when I was growing up, but Gerry Lopez is one of my favorites/ most inspirational within SUP
What has driven you to work super hard and rise up beyond mediocrity?
We have one life to live and at the end of it, I want to look back and have no regrets. I’ve been given the gift of athletics and a competitive drive, I don’t want that to go to waste.
If you weren’t killing it on the water, what would you be doing for a living?
Another type of professional athlete. I love training and competing, I can’t imagine not having it be a part of my life.
What is your favorite location to paddle? Why?
The Kona Coast. It’s beautiful, the water is warm and clear and we always see lots of fish, dolphins, whales... it’s amazing.
Finish this sentence: “Oakleys are ... “
What is the best song to work out to?
Wings by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
People would be super surprised if they knew that you…
I speak Spanish. I was born and raised in Costa Rica, so I grew up speaking both English and Spanish.
What particular skills are you working on?
I’m always trying to improve my SUP surfing skills – it might be a lifelong pursuit… also working on my buoy turns for racing, they can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
Elizabeth Shue – or so I’ve been told (a lot)
Vacation Spot: Any place with good surf
One word Association: