West Maui teenager among the top SUP riders in the world
WEST MAUI – There is a distinctive air of positive energy that fills the Claydon household here on the West Side. Jes and Andy Claydon are dedicated parents that lead a household of five that includes their three children, Lara, Kiana and Kai, based on Christian family values and a deep appreciation of the aloha of Maui’s host Hawaiian culture.
Andy Claydon is the Maui County director of Young Life, a youth mentoring program whose mission statement reads, “Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.” He is also the son of a football coach and is paying forward that influence as a coach on the highly touted Lahainaluna High School junior varsity staff.
The highest powers of life through Jesus Christ are thus the guiding virtues in the Claydon home and are manifested in the youthful glow of the kids – and particularly in the sudden success of 15-year-old Lara on the professional stand up paddling (SUP) circuit.
In five lightening bolt years of learning the sport and but three seasons competing professionally, Lara has paddled and surfed her way to the top rungs of the SUP World Tour and established her name on the elite list of female competitors.
In 2015 alone, she has captured a bronze medal at the Pacific Paddling Junior Pro Women sprint event at Dana Point, California; a fifth place at the SUP World Tour surfing contest at Huntington Beach; a first place at the National Junior Pro Surfing Championships at San Diego; and a gold medal at the Maui to Molokai Open Women 14-foot, fixed fin paddling race.
These sterling efforts combined to elevate her to number six on the SUP Women’s World Tour 2015 cumulative standings.
She is a bright and bubbly teenager with a Valley Isle smile on a freckled face that expresses the youthful vigor that has been nurtured in her being raised in the warmth of her island home.
Lara credits her dad with mentoring her into her SUP endeavors and points to Maui SUP world champ Zane Schweitzer for guiding her into the competition circuit. “I’m involved in Young Life, and I am having fun and enjoying the competition. I just love anything in the water – longboarding, shortboarding, swimming, water polo, she is a sophomore with the Myron B. Thompson home school curriculum that allows her to travel to SUP events and compete on the Lahainaluna water polo, swimming, and cross country teams) and also run cross country. Doing all of these sports helps with cross-training for the SUP competition tour,” she said.
“I’d like to keep competing on the SUP World Tour and hopefully win the overall title someday. I love the sport and would like to make a career of it – in mentoring, teaching technique, surfing skills. I still enjoy it all, the travel and the competition, and am truly grateful to my sponsors Hi-Tech, Starboard, Raw Elements Sunscreen, Choice Health Food Bar, Honolua Surf Company, Maui Jim Sunglasses, and Creatures of Leisure for their support.”
“I’ll do some house cleaning and baby sitting, and receive some money for the pro events I enter, so I’ll be able to pursue my goal of reaching the top five on the world tour rankings. Maui is a good place to do this; it’s a good place to call home,” concluded Claydon with her trademark smile.