Team Speedboard Athlete Profile – Chris Gragtmans

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Chris headed to work

Chris headed to work

Chris Gragtmans


Age:                27

Hometown:   Asheville, NC

Profession:   Professional Athlete, Dagger Kayaks Pro Team Manager, Contributing  Editor (Blue Ridge Outdoors), Canoe & Kayak, Rapid, SUPtheMag), Small Business Owner (TerraVida Threads)

Sports:  Pro Whitewater Kayak/SUP, Am DH Mountain Bike/Ski/Sail/Hockey/CrossFit/Krav Maga

Sponsors:  Speedboard SUP, Dagger Kayaks, Chaco Footwear, Adventure Technology Paddles, Shred Ready Helmets, Astral Buoyancy, Immersion Research


Chris Gragtmans

Chris Gragtmans

What is your athletic/outdoor background?

I have always wanted to be a water athlete.  I grew up sailing, windsurfing, rowing, swimming, and anything else I could get my hands on.  When I was 11 I got my first taste of whitewater kayaking, and everything changed from there.  I am fortunate to now make a living as a professional kayaker.  I have been Canadian Junior Freestyle Champion two times, compete alongside the best athletes in the world regularly, completed 70+ foot waterfall first descents, paddled with Monitor lizards and Jamison Mambas in the Nile, and circumnavigated Manhattan Island at night.

The standup thing is exciting to me because of its universal applicability to so many more people than kayaking, and also because of its similarity to kayaking in power transfer and use of the core.  I am really excited to mesh my kayaking and CrossFit experience to achieve my goals in the SUP race scene as well.

How did you get into SUP and what do you like about it?

I got into SUP because a few of my friends wouldn’t stop raving about how fun it was.  I figured “might as well give this a shot.”  While I find whitewater SUP to be a painful and embarrassing way to make very easy rapids very difficult, I love paddling carbon race boards in open water.  My career as a kayaker has been focused in the extreme racing and extreme paddling genres of the sport, meaning that I have taken quite a few risks throughout my life.  SUP feels like the complement to that adrenaline and risk-taking.  SUP is all about flow- heart rate, breath, paddle stroke.  That natural cadence and rhythm feels meditative and purifying to me, and I am fully addicted.  I can’t wait to keep learning and get to know more of the community.

Any race highlights to date?

Two races so far, and I’m pretty happy with my result in each.  I got 2nd in 12’6” Pro at the Cold Stroke Classic, and 2nd in 12’6” Pro at USNWC Tuck Fest.  I CANNOT WAIT to get on my 14’ Speedboard.  I know that I can step every aspect of my game up once I’m on one of those whips.

What are your SUP goals for 2013? Training tips?

My SUP goals are to have a whole lot of fun this year and win a respectable East Coast race in the 14’ class.  The fire is burning hot, so I’m feeling optimistic!

For training, I don’t feel established enough to offer advice, but it seems to be just like kayaking- all in the core.

You are an elite kayaker who is also now into SUP. What tips and/or advice do you have for athletic types who might want to get into SUP and racing?

Do it!  It’s the most fun and easily picked-up sport out there.  Everyone thinks SUP is going to be so tricky before they try it, but it really is extremely intuitive.  No matter what your athletic abilities, age, sex, body type, or political, religious, or 2nd amendment views, you will love this sport!  It’s impossible to get on a paddleboard and not smile…

Video: Chris in his kayak (dropping a 90-footer!)


Speedboard USA

About Speedboard USA

Speedboard USA is a stand-up paddle (SUP) board company designing and building innovative boards for the performance paddler. Each Speedboard is specifically designed to promote paddling efficiency, enabling elite racers, avid paddlers and SUP enthusiasts to move through the water faster, with less effort.

The 2013 board line-up has been designed to bring the all out speed you expect from Speedboard USA designs and some additional ”tweeks” to make them perform better. All of the boards feature a slightly raised foredeck to create a sharper “spill angle” for waves, low wind signature and greater rigidity. Enhanced rail thickness at the shoulder and our “wishbone” deck shape further add to the stiff flex profile of these boards. Stiffer is faster.

Our 2013 lineup includes the R55 e Unlimited Marathon Machine, 3-different 14′s, and a 12’6″. All of these boards offer the ultimate glide and are suitable for anyone who desires performance, quality, and a made in the USA product!

If you are interested in more information then please contact us: