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What standup paddleboarding has taught me so far…….

Katie McAnena is a 29-year-old Irish water-woman Katie McAnena is a 29 year old Irish water-woman who competes Internationally and Nationally in SUP Surfing, SUP racing, Windsurfing and surfing whilst working as a full-time doctor. She is a Dream Team Rider for Starboard SUP and Windsurf and lives in Bundoran, on the North West Coast of Ireland.

For me Standup Paddleboarding started off as just another conduit to maximizing my water time…

I was never planning on becoming competitive in another sport. Windsurfing had been my true passion both competitively and recreationally for years and I was happy just focusing on one water sport. I thought one was enough. Then one day I hopped onto a SUP. At first it was that typical ‘buzz’ any first-timer experiences of gliding on the water’s surface as though you were walking on the ocean.

That in itself was enough to convince me to buy a board and start ‘cross-training’ in a new, alternative water sport. But as time went on the desire to seek a higher thrill, a greater ‘buzz’, started to take hold. I found Standup Paddleboarding in ever increasingly large, challenging waves was a thrill and a challenge I never thought I’d find in sport again.

Katie McAnena is a 29-year-old Irish water-woman standup paddler 5

Over the last 5 years or so my desire to train and push myself as a standup paddler has only gone from strength to strength. I have unexpectedly stumbled upon a water sport which not only enhances my skills as a windsurfer but enhances my skills in everyday life too.

Living in Ireland on the West Coast and working full-time as a doctor makes water time precious….

Not only do I have to contend with viciously cold Winters and ferocious storms here in the West of Ireland, I work up to 70 or 80 hours a week as a full-time doctor.

In the grand balance of life being a competitive windsurfer, SUPer and medical doctor shouldn’t really be compatible. But that’s the joy of SUP! Whether its 2 ft. onshore, 10 ft. offshore or a calm inland lake, there really is no reason why you can’t SUP nearly every day of the week here in Ireland.

Katie McAnena is a 29-year-old Irish water-woman standup paddler 2

Armed with a solid wetsuit and the best SUP boards on the market I can go from my 12’6” Starboard All Star race board to my 7’4” Starboard Pro surf board over the course of a day and spend hours playing and training in some of the best conditions in the World.

The joys of SUP in Ireland totally outweigh the negatives…

Ok so you’re wrapped into a 5mm suit, hoods, boots, gloves….. but who wouldn’t chose to layer up when it means you can surf some seriously epic waves; green, clean and empty! Waiting in the line-up laughing and chatting with your mates looking back onto rolling hills and magnificent mountains with the Wild Atlantic churning at your feet…. it honestly is magic.

Travelling both at home and abroad has totally changed my perspective on SUP….

It’s easy to become pigeonholed into your typical environment where your comfort zone is never pushed and you go home feeling like a local hero everyday. Nothing has humbled me more or pushed me to train harder than getting on the water to SUP with new people in new conditions. You can find inspiration from everyone, even beginners can remind you of the importance of perseverance and getting back up again and again.

Katie McAnena is a 29-year-old Irish water-woman standup paddler 4

I’ve been so lucky to travel and SUP in places like Maui, Oahu, Mexico, Peru, Barbados, South Africa and Australia. Seeing and SUPing with the top women in the world is incredible. Watching how their styles and their boards are evolving make you want to be a better water-woman. Observing and absorbing what the likes of Izzy Gomez, Fiona Wylde, Shakira Westdorp, Iballa Moreno etc are achieving is mind-blowing. Then being able to take that home to Ireland and try to apply it in our own conditions here is what keeps pushing me to improve and reach a higher level.

Click Here to Check out Starboard’s Standup Paddleboard Lineup



  • Irish SUP Surf Champion
  • 1st Lady Survivor Race Battle for the Bay
  • Lady of the Bay; overall champion Battle for the Bay


  • Irish SUP Surf Champion
  • Irish SUP Technical Racing Champion
  • 1st Lady Irish SUP Surf Classic
  • 1st Lady Survivor Race and Marathon Race Battle for the Bay


  • Irish SUP Surf Champion


  • Irish SUP Surf Champion
  • Katie McAnena is a 29-year-old Irish water-woman standup paddler 6

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