Interview with Sophia Tiaré Bartlow nominated SUP Woman of the Year
“I am third generation waterwoman of Long Beach, California gateful to be who I am and come from where I do”
Alejandro: Where you from?
Sophia: Long Beach, CA
Alejandro: What you do for a living?
Sophia: Licensed GYROTONIC Trainer
Professional Water Woman
Alejandro: How long you been surfing? SUP (Stand Up Paddle) SUPing (Stand Up Paddle Surfing)?
Sophia: 2014 was my Rookie Year SUP Surfing.
As far as surfing goes my living legend mother dearest was about 8 months pregnant with me sliding down substantial faces. She never forced me to do it and that’s why of all my 5 siblings, I love it so much. Age 10 I was a seasonal Long Boarder keen on summers warm water, by 13 I was hooked for life. At 16 embarking Woodrow Wilson Classical High School my sister forced me into short boarding for the sake of our competitive team. The dominance of the Girls Long and Short board (my sister & I) ended up leading our team into multiple championships nearly undefeated in every heat we had together. I became the first individual Surfing Champion from my high school and was inducted into the Hall of Fame for such honors 😀
Alejandro: How did you get into surfing? SUP?
Sophia: Before WSL (World Surf League) before ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) there was the IPS (International Professional Surfers).
Pre-WSL & ASP, Jericho founded the International Professional Surfers’ female World Surfing Tour in 1976, in which she was the inaugural year’s World Champion. Event stops included Africa, East Coast, Brazil & Oahu. The event stats are located in the “Roots” section 😀
My mother has always been a trendsetter; she pioneered first Professionalism in Surfing than pioneered the SUP Movement. I grew up on the water and we always had prone boards out front, when my mom started spreading SUPing around our local community and abroad she left many heads turned. As SUPing grew a following and naturally a competitive aspect Jericho became the first US SUP Champion in 2007.
I got my Bachelors degree in Anthropology at UHM and spent 2008-2013 on the Islands, during this time my mom was going nuts over the Stand Up scene. Despite her enthusiasm I wasn’t buying into it.
Although Stand Up hadn’t quite interested me yet, I stayed busy studying and of course surfing. Throughout my scholastic career, I dabbled in international Professional Long Board Qualifiers, became HSA Hawai’i State and Surfing America’s US Long and Short board Champion.
After I graduated (on the :Dean’s List) December of 2013 I attended ZANKA Fest at Playa Linda in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo where Costa Azul hosted a Long board and SUP event. I dominated the women’s long board and SUP divisions with locals Lola Mignot and Karen Jacobson and decided to enter the Men’s events. There was 30 + sponsored and hard training male athletes from all over Mexico who attended the event. When I made the final and got 3rd taking out some World Class racers/surfers on my mom’s round nose no-name SUP, I thought it was a sign I should pursue SUP Surfing Professionally.
2014 was my rookie year on tour and I became Surfing America’s ISA US SUP Champion, beating 2014’s Waterman League World Champion Izzi Gomez at every US SUP Tour stop.
Alejandro: Your goals.
Sophia: This year I would like a World Title and to train to become a Gold Medalist Olympian for when SUP Racing makes it into the Olympics.
I’d than like to receive honorary doctorates degrees for the Environmental and Social work I am going to do.
Alejandro: Your honors.
Sophia: My SUP Honors Include …
Duke’s Ocean Fest 12’6 Distance Race Champion
2015 Nomination to be SUP Woman of the Year
2014 US SUP Surfing Champion, my rookie year SUP Surfing.
My other Surfing Honors and Championships
U.S Champion – Long and Shortboard
Hawai’i State Champion – Shortboard
California State Champion – Longboard
Hall of Fame – Woodrow Wilson Classical High School
Sophia: I am currently ranked 5th on the Waterman League’s World Surfing Tour.
Sophia: ¨I am third generation waterwoman of Long Beach, California gateful to be who I am and come from where I do¨
I’m blessed and grateful to have grown up into a family of waterwoman; my grandmother Barbra Jean “Bobbie” was a Junior Olympic diver, surfer and bodysurfer. “Bobbie’s Beach Bread” was certainly a hit on the west side and lives on every time anyone cooks up the recipe 😀
My incredible mother, Jericho Poppler, is a surfing pioneer, a 1976 World Champion Surfer, USA surfing champion, cancer survivor, mother of 5, a 2004 inductee to the Surfer’s Hall of Fame, 1990 Women of the Year, founder of Surfrider, board member of Surfing Heritage etc. To give women a more equal opportunity in competitive surfing, Jericho also founded WISA, the Women’s International Surfing Association and was the lead member of the Golden Girls. Jericho has left and continues to leave proactive environmentally conscious and indelible cultural legacy on the sport.
My Mom, Jericho Poppler was 1976 World Champion the first year IPS held a complete World Tour. Event stops and stats below.
1976 IPS Women’s World Champion Tour
1st Place @ Port Elizabeth; Chapstick Women’s Pro (2K Purse)/ Gunston 500
1st Place @ Langha Rocks, Durban; Hang Ten Pro (2K Purse)
3rd Place @ Rio De Janiero; Rico’s Rio Women’s Pro (2K Purse)
2nd Place @ California; WISA/Hang Ten International Pro (10K Purse) East Coast
1st Place @ Sunset Beach, Oahu; Smirnoff World Pro (3K Purse)
3rd Place @ sunset, Oahu; Women’s Master’s (2.5K Purse)
4th Place @ Haleiwa, Oahu; Lancers World Cup (5k Purse)
You can find her in The Encyclopedia of Surfing in the stories of individual hearts she has touched around the world; in the photographs from decades past; in countless magazines, journals and videos of her era; but most likely you’ll find her in the water, still ripping! In her 60’s she continues to pave pathways as the pioneer that she is stand-up paddling through lakes, rivers, open-ocean racing.
Alejandro: What kind of fin do you use in your board?
Sophia: I ride Futures. They are simply the best!
I also enjoy finless surfing 😀
Below is a video of me learning several years back
2013 I am honored to have initiated the traditional Hawaiian finless papa he’e nalu/alaia division into the Dukes Ocean Festival. Thanks to Banzai Betty Depolito for finding sponsors for a purse, creating a flyer and down right organizing the division into existence. I received 4th in 2013 and just last month August 27th, 2015 I placed 2nd among the boys 😀
Alejandro: Tell us about any extreme moment in surfing? SUP?
Sophia: Last year my first World Tour/Professional SUP Surfing Event I had all of my competitors; Candice Appleby, Aline Adisaka, Wanina Walsh and I believe Nicole Pacelli combo-ed in the Repo-charge.
A massive set came out the back, starting with my mindset, I cloaked myself with warrior woman energy intended to charge over a white water well over my head. The ocean certainly humbled me as my mom’s rounded nose board (same one from Mexico, that everyone was telling me I needed to get rid of, lol!) came back and smacked me in the face. The Go-pro attachment ripped my lip from my gum, I was spitting out cups of blood. The Hawaiian rescue Jet-Ski team immediately came, “take off your leash, give me your paddle, hand over the board, and hop on.” I simply refused resisting, “I want to win!”
After paddling in and dealing with the hype on, mainly the First Lady or Wife of Waterman League CEO frantically insisting I go the ER, my diligence convinced the staff I was able and I received a jersey for my final.
Pacelli, Abbleby and Adisaka all got a Jet-Ski assist back out as I fought through the turbulent channel-less Turtle Bay reef. The most gorgeous set came to me outside (straight up a Gift from God) However, the busy-ness of my mind caused me to over-intimidate myself and fall upon taking off backside on this bomb. I waited for another to come and it didn’t arrive before the heats end. I was happy to survive, take 3rd and make a statement at my First Event.
Alejandro: Your favorite spot.
Sophia: Where ever I am.
Alejandro: Surfing tips you want to share.
Sophia: Be Aware.
Alejandro: Any comment or advice for surfing community?
Sophia: Life is a Gift. We are immensely blessed to be surfers.
In my view, life is not just Gift to take, take, take and deplete. We, especially as surfers have a responsibility, a kuleana, a dharma to protect the ocean and land that constantly gives to us.
Everyone always says, “Take Care” but what I have learned from my experience and especially from the Hawaiian’s is to Malama. To not just take care but to give care in return.
The best definition of Love I have ever heard is constant giving with no expectations of return. To honor our relationship with a mutual reciprocity and harmony with our understanding of this Gift of Life, Spirit, the self, our families, our community and ultimately nature, our home is in my minds eye realizing truth and fulfilling potential.
Promote awareness, you are Loved and Love itself. Perpetuate in righteousness, know we are not perfect and that we belong to each other.
Gratitude is the key. Love is truth and lives in the heart. Choosing the heart over mind is a conscious choice. Choose Love.
I am so grateful and feel immensely blessed and responsible with these gifts to shine. How many girls from California can say, “My Grandma surfed Makaha” and “my mom was the first women’s world pro champion surfer” ? Around about my siblings and I, wow graciousness.
The Question is, Love is the Answer.
My mom has raised me on the ocean, inspiring a reverence and understanding for nature so great and profound, I’ve yet to find the words that can describe it. It’s an understatement to say that growing up within an aquatic culture has formed my worldview. It’s an honor to follow in her footsteps; gratitude for simply being is what fuels my joy.
Please protect your watershed.
Respect your elders, respect nature, be the best you, believe in yourself and encourage others.