Manca Notar’s Beautiful Winter Wonderland
Boss Man’s note: Manca Notar is one of the rising stars on the women’s race scene. Hailing from the small European nation of Slovenia (it’s located next to Italy and Austria…), 18-year-old Manca is one of the nicest and most enthusiastic paddlers you’ll ever meet. I remember first chatting to Manca at the 2012 Lost Mills, where she was probably the smallest but most determined paddler in the race. Since then she’s gone from strength to strength.
Recently I spotted some beautiful images of Manca paddling in the depths of winter at home in Slovenia, so I asked the Red Bull and Naish team rider if she’d share some insights into her unique (and very scenic) training regime…
Training In A Winter Wonderland
guest post by Red Bull and Naish team rider Manca Notar
In Slovenia we have a pretty hot summer but it can get super cold in winter, which probably makes my SUP training a little different from where most paddlers live. The race calendar is usually finished by late Autumn or early Winter, so after that I take some time off before getting back into training for the new season.
Where I live I’m quite lucky because we have so many cool destinations within a short drive: I can wake up in the morning and decide if I’m going to hit the mountains for some snowSUP, train on the lakes or go down to the ocean side and paddle in the Adriatic Sea.
However this winter we’ve had some REALLY cold temperatures, hovering around -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) for several days, which meant I simply couldn’t paddle because all the water was freezing over!
I started seriously training when the air temps came back up to a more respectable -2 or -3 degrees (around 27 Fahrenheit) and the water was around +3 or +4 (38 F). I could have gone down to the seaside, where it was slightly warmer, however there is something very special about paddling on the mountain lakes.
Being on the water with all the snow-covered trees and peaks around you, as well as ice on the edge of the lake is an experience that really cannot be described!
But it’s also cold. Really, really cold! To be able to train I wear a special Dador Drysuit, which is completely waterproof but still breathable, while underneath I wear warm clothes plus a beanie on my head. Even though the temperature is freezing, I actually get very warm while training 😀
During the winter I also love to do snowSUP whenever we get fresh powder on the mountains. SnowSUP is kind of like snowboarding but on a SUP surfboard. It’s so much fun – like you’re riding a huge wave that can never break on top of you. SnowSUP is also really good training because you’re walking uphill through the snow with your SUP wave board. It’s one of the best things you can do on the snow and I’ve actually been doing this for a few years now – whenever they have the snowSUP world championships I’ll totally be ready haha.
I also love to ski and hike in the mountains – we’re very lucky to have great conditions and beautiful nature here in Slovenia!
So I like to mix up my training and really make the most of the winter – even though it’s freezing cold it can still be a lot of fun. When I do get on the water, my dad is also my coach and he always helps me and ensures I paddle and train as effectively as I can.
The SUP community in Slovenia is getting bigger and bigger and I’m really stoked to see it growing. There are more and more people getting into racing, though unfortunately the biggest waves we have are knee high, so for the wave training and surfing we have to figure out some new solutions!
Thanks to my amazing parents, plus my awesome sponsors Red Bull and Naish, I’ve been really fortunate to travel to some great places through stand up paddling over the past few years, including a few trips to Hawaii! Last year I competed in Molokai-2-Oahu with my great Naish team manager Michi Schweiger. We won the mixed team race which was really cool, however just completing that channel crossing is the reward itself with that race…
Right now I’m in my last year of high school, which means from May to June I’ll be doing lots of big important exams to try and enter university. I’d like to study laboratory biomedicine and specialise in doping control, so I really have to do well in these final tests!
Unfortunately this will conflict with the most important European SUP races this year, such as the Lost Mills. However I will be able to get to the Carolina Cup in April and then the Gorge Paddle Challenge in August. I’m REALLY excited about these two events – I’ve always wished I was there when I see the amazing photos and videos, however this year it will finally become a reality!!
I’m also going to try really hard to make it to the Payette River Games, which looks so fun and challenging, however my very last exam is right before that race so I’ll have to see if we can squeeze it in.
I think stand up paddling has a really big future and I’m so excited to be part of the sport as it grows!
I’m also very proud to be one of the Red Bull athletes. Last August I was invited to the world famous Red Bull HQ and DTC (Diagnostic and Training Centre) in Austria. It’s such a cool place!! Red Bull really looks after their athletes! While I was there we did physical and mental tests, physiotherapy and visited the corporate HQ. Everyone at Red Bull is super nice and the testing was both really fun and very useful.
I also got to meet some fellow Red Bull riders and learn more about some new sports. At the end of my visit, Red Bull gave me a special “book” based on my testing that told me all about myself. It was such an amazing trip so thank you Red Bull! I’m sure I’ll do it again next year.
As you can see my father is also a really good photographer, so we both try to catch the magic moments during my training. The mountain photos are from “Lake Bohinj” and I hope these kind of images can inspire more people to try the sport of stand up paddling, especially in my part of the world where conditions are honestly much more suitable for skiing than SUP 🙂
You can follow Manca’s paddling adventures on Instagram (@manca_notar) and her official Facebook page