Interview | Salt Life President Jeff Stillwell
Without Salt Life there would be no Pacific Paddle Games. They’ve supported the PPG since the first one in 2015 and are the presenting sponsor of the third annual event, to be held at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, California, September 30 and October 1. They’re also the presenting sponsor of the #PPG2017 Kickoff Party featuring the SUP Awards (get your tickets!). We got Salt Life President Jeff Stillwell on the phone get his take on the Biggest Week in SUP.
We’re a week out from the 2017 Pacific Paddle Games, what have you learned about community over those years?
People really rally around the community in this sport. Whether it’s a cause or a brand or an event people are very loyal and genuine. I run into people all over the country that I’ve met through standup paddling and always notice that. We’re honored to be a part of it.
What does it mean to you to have great athletes like Connor Baxter, April Zilg and Colin McPhillips on your team?
When we entered this space there were some people that were skeptical. I think by continuing to sign athletes of this nature and to support this event and others like ours in our hometown of Columbus, Georgia, it’s putting our money where our mouth is. We’re doing all these things because it’s such an inclusive sport and we consider our brand to be an inclusive brand.
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s PPG’s?
I’m always amazed at how fast everyone can go and how good they are in turns. I live on a river, I’m lucky to get on (my SUP) and get across that river without falling in. Or if I’m fishing, I’ll set a hook and fall off the board. When I see everyone going so hard and charging around the buoys and more and more people doing it ever year, that’s the reason we do it in the first place.
Connor’s won the past two years, how do you like his chances?
I try to stay out of the prediction market but I think he’s going to do a great job and we’re just honored he wanted to be a part of our team and our brand. We’re fully supportive of everything he’s doing. Obviously he’s a phenomenal athlete so I wouldn’t expect anything different.
What ties all your athletes together?
The common core for all of us is a love of the ocean, whatever format that happens to be. For some it’s paddling, we have a lot of people into fishing, for me it’s scuba diving, for others it’s freediving and fishing. The people that we’ve managed to draw into the brand is just a great group. We always hang out with people before we bring them on the team to make sure they’re a fit and that they understand the culture of what we believe in. We’ve made great friends along the way.
Is the Orange County ocean community different than others you’ve seen?
It’s just different by geographic location. Every single ocean-based community that I’m a part of just has a passion for being on the water and taking care of and respecting the ocean. It’s a pleasure to be around people like that.
Do you have a favorite memory from the past couple years?
The most special to me is when you have world class athletes go out of the way to thank us for our involvement in the sport, giving the purse money and creating something that they can come and do because that’s what their passion is. That’s what means the most.
Anything you want to add?
We’re just proud to be associated with the event. This will be our third one and we’re on for two more. I can’t wait to see them get bigger and better each year and we’re honored that you guys have us back every year. I look forward to seeing you there!