A Conversation With Felipe Rodriguez Lorenzo – SUP Athlete and All Around Waterman
The idyllic Mexican fishing town of Sayulita has produced a line of accomplished water sports athletes over the years. Twenty-six year old Felipe Rodriguez Lorenzo has been fortunate to grow up there and he immersed himself in the town’s outdoor culture from an early age, taking up surfing when he was 12 years old. Felipe credits the efforts of those before him for blazing the initial trail to international recognition of Sayulita’s athletes and is now embarking on his own path to reach his goals as a successful athlete, family man, and business owner.
I was introduced to Felipe via a mutual friend. We’ve yet to meet in person, but had the opportunity to speak earlier this week. Our conversation covered a range of topics from Sayulita’s ability to produce a steady stream of top athletes, his accomplishments, and goals for the future.
Tell us a bit about your background growing up in Sayulita.
I’m twenty-six year old and I’ve lived my whole life here in Sayulita. I compete all over Mexico in stand up surfing and racing. I’ve also been fortunate to be able to travel to Peru, California and now Fiji for competitions. I like to go fishing, snorkeling, freediving, and I like Mexican food! I also enjoy going hiking and right now I’m also playing baseball and volleyball.
When did you begin paddling?
I began surfing when I was 12 years old and started paddling in 2011/2012. I was in an accident in May 2012 and had a really bad back injury. Due to the injury, I stopped paddling for two years and was able to return to the sport again in November 2014.
What do you enjoy the most about stand up paddling?
Stand up paddling is so much fun. You can go anywhere…I can go fishing on the stand up paddleboard, I can go snorkeling on the paddleboard. I can go everywhere, where before I could not. It is easy to catch a wave, it is so much fun and there are so many things to do on the paddleboard. I like to be in the water and the feeling of being on the paddleboard is difficult to describe. It feels so good to me.
Tell us about a typical day for you in Sayulita.
Wake up, not to early. I walk down to my Mom’s place and grab a juice. Walk to the beach and look at the waves. If there are good waves I’ll jump in the water for a little bit and then go to work.
Sounds like a great way to start the day! Where do you work?
I used to work at Stand Up Paddle Mexico, it is the largest stand up paddling shop here in Sayulita. I’m starting my own business next week, El Punto, where I’ll teach clinics for SUP and surfing.
Many people know the name Sayulita due to some of the athletes like Fernando and Bicho. What is it about Sayulita that has enabled it to produce so many big names in stand up paddling?
One of the main reasons is our access to the ocean. Most other athletes have to travel far to reach the ocean. We have good weather and can train whenever we want. It is easy to go paddle. Here in Sayulita we all know each other, we get together and go paddle, surfing, running or whatever.
Fernando was the first one. He met one guy from California and learned about SUP. After that he tried the new sport and started focusing on training, made the effort to get out there to meet people and began winning some races. He is the main guy who started it all in Mexico and we started to follow him and do his training and take clinics with him. It’s pretty good!
The weather is pretty nice year round in Sayulita, right?
Yes! It never gets that cold and you can go in the water anytime of year to swim or whatever you want. The hot season is very hot!
You recently returned from the ISA Games in Fiji as one of just two representatives from Mexico. What was that experience like?
It’s a good feeling to be at a big contest like that and know you’re the only one out there during the competition representing your country. To have all the support from your people, from your town, from your country. It is a special feeling that you never get from other competitions.
It is a big experience being able to compete with the best guys from all over the world. You make a lot of friends and share a lot with everyone each year at the ISA Games and learn so many new things every single year. To go to Fiji was my dream and it happened. It was a special feeling for me. To compete at that level, in that water with all those other people. And then you know after competing with those guys how hard you have to train to be right there with them, fighting for that medal.
The ISA Games were held in Sayulita in 2015. Were you able to compete then?
Yes, I made it all the way to the semifinals before I was stung by a stingray and had to withdraw. It hurts [to be stung], it really hurts.
What are your goals as an athlete?
I would like to compete for five or six more years and then try to focus on doing something different with the sport. Hopefully I will be able to grow my name within the sport and be able to use that to help my business. Then focus on my business, focus on my family and do my own thing and try to help others.