About April

aka the Vanilla Gorilla

      If you ever wanted to know more about me, here it is!!
      For starters, I was born and raised in North Carolina out in the "boonies" with four-wheelin' and pig pickin's. My "valuable" college education brought me to Wilmington for a Masters in Marine Science (Deep Sea Coral Reef Ecology to be exact!). I began paddling recreationally to beat the stress of the day. Enjoying the social aspect as well as the health benefits encouraged me to start attending regional SUP races and even share the sport abroad.

     In 2012, I spent the year living and paddling in India, introducing locals to the sport and finding new and exciting places to paddle. I gave SUP and surf lessons, participated in charities, and aided in putting on SUP events. Before leaving India, I organized a team to explore the waters of the Indian Himalayas on my Hobie Inflatable SUPs, including white water and numerous high altitude lakes including the Zanskar, the Indus, and Suraj Tal at 16,020 feet, which the current record for highest SUP session. I have SUP surfed in India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, and Fiji. 

     When I'm not competing or training, I love giving lessons, teaching clinics, guiding SUP yoga or SUP surfing. In addition to having my post-baccalaureate certificate in Education, I am a WPA SUP Instructor, an ACA L2 Essentials of SUP Instructor, and SUP Yoga Instructor. I currently teach in Wrightsville Beach with Carolina Paddleboard Co. but am available to travel for group clinics and offer online coaching for those not in the area. 

      What differentiates me from the other pros is the ability to break down what it is we do and make it easily understandable. What differentiates me from the "natural" pros is that I've been there; I had to work hard.

     Before I "found" paddling, I wasn't really involved in athletics. I was overweight, overworked, and then I got sick with the big "C". A change needed to happen in my life, and paddling appeared at just the right time. I really took to it, and the fitness and solitude on the water. After a few weeks, I decided to enter a race... where I bit off more than I could chew and didn't even finish! That didn't discourage me, though. Instead, it motivated me to really stick to it and get better, fitter, stronger, and healthy. One year later, I entered the same race (6 mile Carolina Cup) and placed 2nd. 

     Skip forward to 2020 and I'm the 2019 World #2 on the APP SUP Tour, Gorge Downwind Women's OC1 champion, a 3x Salt Life Cup/US Champion and Pan American Surfing Games GOLD medalist. It wasn't natural, and it wasn't overnight. 

     It took a lot of hard work, obsession, and help from great teachers along the way. I've taken dozens of lessons and clinics from the top pros in addition to all of those ACA and WPA instructor courses. So, whether you're just paddling for fun and want to stay injury free or you want to train and be the best you can be to race, I can help you reach your goals... I've been there! 


Recent Accomplishments

  • APP World Tour, World Vice-Champion 2019

  • 2019 Gorge Downwind OC1 Women's Champion

  • New York SUP Open, Overall Women's Champion 2019

  • 1st Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, Women's Technical race, SUP 2019

  • Pan American Surfing Games SUP Race Women's Gold Medal 2018

  • 2nd Carolina Cup, Women's Graveyard SUP 2019

  • 1st Carolina Cup, Women's Graveyard OC1 2018

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© 2020 by VanillaGorilla Paddle Surf.