When you think of domination you think of Lance (7), Kelly Slater (9), Michael Jordan (6), Tiger Woods (although perhaps not lately), Kobe Bryant (5) but you probably don’t think of Jamie Mitchell. Well you should. Once he won his first solo Molokai paddle board race in 2002, he never let anyone else hold that trophy. Quite selfishly, he has dominated that race while only really being challenged three times of his eight championships. His dominance in that race, considered the Tour de France of paddle boarding, is so thorough that when his competitors line up next to him at the start they honestly believe Jamie’s not even in the race because they have already conceded first. They know they are only competing for second.
The best part of his whole act and perhaps the part I admire most is his humility. I’m from the old school where you let your actions do your speaking and keep your mouth closed except for eating and maybe a cold one. Besides being king of his domain he’s not one dimensional, he is a waterman in the true classic sense of the word. Canoe, stand up, long board, big waves ( paddle and tow), swimming, body surf, foil board and lifeguard just to name a few of his consistent activities. He’s very much a throwback to the surfers of the fifties and sixties, where the ocean was your everything. Your gym, your playground, your church, your school and your frige. When what you rode was much less important than how you rode it. Skill and bravado trumped style and equipment every time and a brutal wipeout sometimes carried more clout amongst the tribe than a pretty make. He reads and attacks the bumps on down winders like a white shark reads and attacks a baby seal, with no mercy for anything that doesn’t keep him moving forward. His dedication to preparation is unparalleled by any in his sport and yet his appreciation for those who show up to give it a go is classic Hawaiian style, full of aloha and encouragement.
During his latest trip to Maui I had the chance to talk story with Jamie about the up coming races and shoot the breeze about a couple other things. I think you’ll find it amusing.
DK- Next years Naish, Stand up or paddle board?
JM- 95% certain it will be paddle board (Dk- I’m not buying it) .
JM- Because if I’m going to do Molokai (paddle board) next year, which I am, the Naish is a good warm up for that race.
DK- If you had to flog somebody for the BP disaster, who would it be?
JM- I don’t know to much about it, but I would have started with BP then go on to Obama for not taking more action sooner. Similar to how Bush handled the New Orleans disaster I believe that Obama could have taken more decisive and substantial action sooner.
Dk- After a perfect day on the water do you end with a) beers with your mates till you need a taxi. b) A glass of wine and watch the sunset. Or c) A couple of beers with the boys then go see the misses.
JM)-Old days it would have been a) but now times have changed, I choose d) beers with the boys and bring the little lady along with me till we both need a taxi.
Dk- You’ve been absolutely dominant in paddle boarding for so long, are you finding it harder to find the motivation to prepare for the races as time goes by?
JM- Each year is getting harder to get going but once I get past the first month of training I’m good to go. It’s hard for us downunder to just keep training month after month with only a few small races knowing that it’s all just for the races in Hawaii. Especially as the weather gets colder in our winter and there’s no where to put all the training to use.
DK- What do you have to say to all the stand up guys that bag on paddle boarding?
JM- I would say remember who the new kid on the block is and that the majority of the really good stand up guys all started on paddle boards. And that the paddle board races were the ones that included sup originally, so SUP owes a lot of it’s growth to the those first races.
DK- Surftech has a Jamie Mitchell stand up model, what percentage of your total surfing does stand up represent?
JM-80%. I just went to G-land with three short boards and a stand up and spent about 90% of the time on my stand up.
DK- You seem pretty keen to keep up on other sports. What and who is your favorite and why?
JM- Rugby league, and my team is Parramatta.
Dk- Who’s your favorite NBA team?
JM- Lakers. (DK- good answer YEAH!!!!) I also enjoy watching MMA.
DK- Congratulations on your recent engagement. How many kids?
JM- (Awful big pause then) One boy and one girl.
DK- If paddle boarding hadn’t come into your life, what would have taken it’s place?
JM- Probably rugby. When I was a kid I was doing both sports when I got an injury and my father told me if I wanted to be successful at one of them I would have to choose one or the other. I chose paddle boarding so if paddle boarding wasn’t there it would be rugby.
Dk- If you could start a business, what would it be?
JM- The Jamie Mitchell foundation to benefit abused or underprivileged kids.
Dk- Give me a couple of bucket list items.
JM- Own my own house and go for a fighter jet ride.
Dk- Preparation is a huge part of your success. Do you have any tips your willing to share?
JM- In the last three years I’ve put a lot of focus on nutrition and recovery supplements. Do all the hard yards a month before the race so you can taper and not over train. Two weeks out you can’t get any faster but you can slow your self down by over training.
DK- Last question. Who’s helped you the most to get you where you are?
JM- My family. Because of all their support no matter what I did and encouraged me no matter what my dream was.
DK- Thanks Jamie. It’s been fun and good luck with all the races.