A 10x consecutive Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race champion, the 2012 ISA World SUP Championship Long Distance gold medal winner, and lauded big wave rider, Jamie Mitchell is recognized as one of the world’s ultimate watermen.
The elite ocean athlete came in to BLINK INC recently for a quick shoot. Though he has his own line of JM Paddleboards, Mitcho was repping Quickblade Paddles that day, his green QP gear popping against the white BLINK INC backdrop.
But nothing popped as much as Mitcho’s personality. In front of the camera he was just as he is in the ocean: positive, enthusiastic, and fearless. We caught up with the Australia native in the middle of a whirlwind eight-country tour to find out how he got his start, what it’s like during a race, and how he keeps his cool when facing an 80-foot wave.
Your traveling schedule is insane. Where have you been since you were here at BLINK INC and where are you headed in the next month?
Since BLINK, I went back to Newport Beach, then was in North Carolina [for the Carolina Cup’s elite race], flew from there to Nice, France, then to South Africa, and I just got to Monaco this morning. In the next month im off to London, Ill be here in Monaco for the Grand Prix, then to Germany, France, and Spain.
Where did you grow up and how did you get into surfing and paddling? And when did you go pro?
I grew up in a small town called Coffs Harbour. It’s in New South Wales, Australia. I started Nippers when I was five years old (which is like Junior Lifeguards) and learned to surf around about age eight. I got my first real sponsor when I was about 25.
Who did you come up with?
I grew up looking up to a couple of brothers, David and Scott Reeves, who were Ironman racers in my hometown. They took me under their wings and showed me a lot about the ocean. I also looked up to Tommy Carroll.
When you’re paddling into an 80-foot wave, what is going on in your mind?
Nothing but focus and being in the moment. I try not to think too much and let it happen.
Are you ever scared when you’re out in the water?
Of course. The ocean is a place to be respected no matter what the size or how conditions are. When you forget that is when it will let you know who’s boss.
Let’s talk about the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race, which you’ve won ten years in a row. It’s 32 miles from Molokai to Oahu. Why is it called the “Channel of Bones?”
I think because it’s so treacherous and lots of lives have been lost in that channel. It’s super super deep in parts and that’s why you get the crazy conditions and currents.
Paddling that distance seems like a superhuman feat. In that trailer for your film about it, even Kelly Slater says it sounds “intimidating.” What made you want to do it the first time and what keeps you coming back?
The first time for me was in a team with a buddy of mine. Just wanted a holiday in Hawaii so it was a good excuse to go. I fell in love with it and the challenge and the great people that do it so I just kept going.
What was the pressure like before your tenth consecutive win?
Obviously there was some pressure but it was really from myself. I didn’t really try and listen to anyone or what people were saying. I knew what I had to do and I tried to keep it the same as the previous nine years.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Just being able to wake up and do what I love. I love being able to play in the water and travel and meet great people. It’s the best. I’m very lucky.
You’re super active on social media. What do you like about being able to interact with your fans via social media?
I think its great to be able to have friends, fans, and family follow my travels and experiences. Hopefully they enjoy what I am doing and get to experience my life a little.
BLINK INC certainly enjoyed spending the day with Mitcho. We can’t wait to bear witness to his next move in the water.
PHOTOS BY: BLINK INC
WORDS BY: CHLOE ROTH