DIVE A LITTLE DEEPER
You want to know what makes us love every stinking moment of building a brand like SOL? It's our riders, who you are about to read about. They make our heart go pitter-patter just listening to them talk about all things SUP.
TEAM SOL // Abe Herrera
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
We met Abe at the FibArk Festival in Salida, Colorado, and instantly we new we were in good company. A SOL rider for last four years and a native of Ecuador (but American at heart, as he likes to say), it is the water where he spends most of his time as a full-time professional paddler exploring rivers from the Arctic to Patagonia.
As someone who has dedicated his life to the sport, and we are pretty proud he is doing it on SOL SUP board. And trust us when we say we will can't wait to hear the stories of Abe's explorations through the unchartered rivers nestled deep in the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador to the beautiful blue waters of the Galapagos Islands. His stories make us smile ear to ear. We can't get enough.
TEAM SOL // Rich Harrison
Born and raised in Santa Monica Ca. — aka Dogtown — Rich skateboarded his way through the 70s and surfed and snowboarded through the 80s and 90s. It wasn't until 2014 that he hopped on his first paddle board, and we are happy he did.
After moving to Colorado's Front Range in 1984, he decided to trade in his surfboard for a snowboard and surf some powder for awhile. But after 30 years of riding goofy he developed a "hole in his soul" for salt and surf. With California on the brain, he wondered if he should scratch the itch and move back. Thankfully, he made a trip to Buena Vista during Paddlefest where he met Mike Tavaras who taught Rich and his son Bodhi the art of river surfing. Bye-bye California.
Personal update: Rich happily traded in his old red board for a 2020 SOL Carbon Galaxy model, joining the SOL Train just in time for the summer season.
TEAM SOL // Chris Johnson
LIVING FOR THE SUMMERS
Born and raised in Arvada, Colorado, Chris — aka Paddlebeard — is no stranger to outdoor adventures. He grew up camping all over the state, skateboarding every waking minute, and trying to spend as much time around water as possible. Being on the "no-coast" his version of spending time on the water translated to winters snowboarding. But that soon changed when he was discovered stand up paddle boarding on a random trip to some local lakes, instantly falling in love with the sport and lifestyle. But it wasn’t until after he moved to Vail in 2013 that he solidified his passion for SUPing. It was at the GoPro Mountain Games in 2014 that Chris discovered racing via SUP CROSS and river surfing through the film Can I Surf That. The next summer he got his first SOLjah Inflatable Paddle Board, met SOL's owner Johnny, and started racing and surfing and paddling downriver as much as possible.
Since that fateful weekend in 2014, Chris spends much of his spare time dreaming of his next paddle, surfing the big spring runoff on every wave in Colorado, racing and attending as many river festivals possible, running class III and IV whitewater, or taking his friends out for a SOLsunday float on the SOLfiesta. You could say he is addicted to not just the sport, but the SOL of paddle boarding. As for his accomplishments in the sport, Chris is lucky to have Gore Creek as his backyard and is one of, if not the first, to successfully stand the Stephens Park Chute, a class IV .25 mile rapid just west of Vail Mountain. Also, he successfully completed the Grand Canyon on a paddle board in 2017 and in 2018 was the Vail Town Champion in the Vail Whitewater Race Series. Chris has been on Team SOL since 2016 and worked with Johnny to design the one-of-a-kind stringer system for the all-new GalaXy and Carbon GalaXy Collections.
A few fun facts about Chris >> He last trimmed his beard in August 2018 // He has had 17 surgeries on his left shoulder (but still a powerhouse on the water). // He gives “the best hugs” according to, well, everyone.
TEAM SOL // Jess Burchill
LOVE AT FIRST PADDLE
Benefiting from her proximity to the Missouri River, with access to Lake Oahe and Lake Sharpe, Jess has always been drawn to water activities. It was 10 years ago when she discovered paddle boarding and it truly was “love at the first paddle" for Jess. Soon after she ordered two boards and shipped them to South Dakota. She was on a mission to share her passion with others, which resulted in the establishment of her paddle business, Endless River Paddling. Endless River Paddling offers paddle board rentals, purchases, paddle board fitness classes, and SUP Yoga. As a Yoga Alliance RYT-200 Yoga Instructor, Jess loves bringing the water element into her yoga practices. Lucky for her, the SOLnamastation Inflatable Yoga Dock is an awesome anchoring system to offer her SUP Yoga Classes and the SOLfiesta makes for the ideal board for her private sessions. Aside from paddling, Jess enjoys kayaking, wakeboarding and scuba diving and when she's on the river, she is working out, practicing yoga, hiking or downhill skiing.
TEAM SOL // Brian Copanas
GIVE ME THE SURF ALL DAY EVERY DAY
Brian credits his dad for his lifelong passion for the water. For as long as he can remember he recalls not only adventures on the water, but also peace, as he traveled down the rivers throughout Missouri. Later, a climbing friend turned him on to whitewater kayaking, and he took that show on the road for 15 years on the hunt for rivers to run throughout the U.S. It was also during this travels that he partnered up with a colleague and established the EddyFlower Vertical Challenge — a 30-day competition to see who could drop the most vertical feet.
In the fall of 2017, Brian was searching for a new way to spend his time on the water when in Colorado. That's when he purchased the Classic Collection SOLjah paddle board. "Wait, I can surf in Colorado?" he asked himself. Yep. For Brian, the opportunity to river surf on the Jah hits the mark. Every. Time. He loves it so much that any chance he gets he brings his family and friends along to teach, learn, celebrate and just enjoy the good times. Off the river he hangs with his kids, loves catching a live show and practicing yoga.
BEST TIME EVAH!
I have been a SOL team rider for the last four years and it has been the best time of my life.