Student Rides to Third Place in World Surf Kayak Championships

September 15, 2009

image of Lindsay Usher on wave

In August, Lindsay Usher found herself face to face with six-foot waves off the coast of Portugal, with nothing to protect her but a paddle and a kayak.  Luckily, Usher had been in this situation before, and she knew how to handle the surge of water. She soon found herself at a wave’s crest, visible to the crowd on shore. When she rode the wave in, there were cheers and Usher was soon given a trophy: third place in the women’s longboat division of the World Surf Kayak Championships.

Over 150 competitors turned up to face the waves at the biennial championship, which took place in Santa Cruz, Portugal. Twelve teams represented countries with coastlines worldwide: Japan, Portugal, two teams from the United States, several teams from the United Kingdom, the Basque Country, and Australia. Usher, a graduate student in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State, was part of the US East Surf Kayak Team, and she was one of only three team members to place in the competition this year. Contestants had twenty minutes to ride ten waves and were judged based on the size of the wave, the length of the ride, and their surfing style.

This was Usher’s third entry into the World Surf Kayak Championships, having previously competed in Costa Rica in 2005 and Ireland in 2003. However, this was the first time she placed. “I’m pretty excited about getting third place. I had done fairly well in the past, but it had been frustrating to not have made finals,” said Usher.

image of Lindsay receving award

Over 150 competitors, (including Usher, second from left) turned up to face the waves at the biennial championship, which took place in Portugal.

Usher first began surf kayaking as a child at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. A family friend brought a kayak down, and she ended up playing with it in the water. Eventually her family bought their own kayak, and from that point Lindsay kept practicing, gradually introducing herself to more difficult boats and waves and entering harder competitions.

She plans on competing again in the 2011 world championship, which will be held place in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

image of Lindsay with award

Usher (middle) represented the US East Surf Kayak Team (above). She was one of only three team members to place in the competition this year.

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Editors: Lindsay Usher can be reached at leu105@psu.edu. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.