Jenny Kalmbach Exclusive Interview

Kona Boys loves talented watermen and waterwomen who have a good attitude and share their passion for the ocean with others. That’s exactly why we love Kona local Jenny Kalmbach.

After taking a breather from her outstanding 2011 season (and being voted 2011 Female Stand Up Paddler of the Year by SUP Magazine readers), she took some time to answer a few of our questions. We enjoyed learning some more about her and her thoughts on the sport of stand up paddling. We hope you enjoy it too.

Jenny Kalmbach Self Portrait

I just hope that I continue to have fun and enjoy life – it’s been an amazing experience so far and I feel really fortunate for being able to do what I do. – Jenny Kalmbach

How did you get into Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
I first learned to stand up paddleboard back in 2006 when I was working at Kukio Golf & Beach Club. We taught surfing, outrigger paddling etc and we had these 2 big Ron House boards. We didn’t really start going out on them much until Jack Gillen, a good friend, got us all fired up about the sport.  After that we were all hooked. We surfed them a bunch that winter, and later that summer I entered a race … it’s all sort of taken off from there.

What are your favorite places to train on the Big Island?
I have a love/hate relationship with Keokea on the northern tip of the Big Island. I love being out in the big, windy conditions because it is so good for my training but I always get nervous going up there because it is so desolate and anything can happen.. people have lost their canoes, been knocked off their equipment by big sharks…it’s a very intense place but it’s also a very beautiful place. You can’t beat paddling along the cliffs with the windmills on one side and the island of Maui off in the distance. Jenny Kalmbach Cliffs

Do you think Stand Up Paddle Boarding could be an Olympic sport?
Absolutely. It has so many different disciplines – everything from sprint to long distance, flat water, surfing, white water etc. If you really wanted you could even do team SUP. It may not happen in the next few years but I have no doubt that within 10 years it will be in the Olympics. I just hope that I’ll still be competitive, it would be a dream to be an olympic athlete.

Tell us about the equipment you use?
I race long distance on a 17′ Naish Glide which has a built in rudder system and the 12’6 Javelin for the shorter, sprint races. My favorite surfing boards are the 9’0 Nalu & the 8’5 Hokua. I am one of the few people that races with a wood paddle shaped by Odie Sumi from Pure Paddles. I like the flex that wood paddles offer and it just feels more natural when you paddle.

What is the most radical thing you have ever seen or done on the ocean?
One of the most memorable (and I guess you could say “radical”) things I have done is paddle 82 miles from Oahu to Kauai. It was part of the channel crossing expedition, Destination 3 Degrees and we spent 11 of the 16 hours paddling through the night. One of my favorite memories was taking a break at around 3 in the morning and laying on my board and looking up at the sky and seeing stars everywhere. It hit me all of sudden that I was in the middle of a channel, in the middle of the Pacific ocean… it sort of makes you feel really small. I’ll never forget that experience.

What does the future hold for you?
Jenny Kalmbach SurfingHonestly, I have no idea. I take things day by day – I hope to continue competing and traveling with standup paddling and I would love to compete in a Ironman triathlon one day but other than that, I really don’t know. I just hope that I continue to have fun and enjoy life – it’s been an amazing experience so far and I feel really fortunate for being able to do what I do.



All photos are copyright Jenny Kalmbach unless otherwise noted.

Creative Commons License
Jenny Kalmbach Interview with Kona Boys by Kona Boys, Inc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at