As early as he can remember, Anthony Vela (also known as AV) has always loved the ocean. He participated in many different organized sports growing up, but surfing was his true passion. Growing up far from the beach made it difficult for him to fulfill his love for the ocean however, so in 1994 he became a lifeguard in Redondo Beach, California and for the first time in his life, he had daily access to the beach.
In 1998 Vela competed in the World Lifesaving Championships as part of the US National Lifesaving team, then went on to represent the US in many surf racing events around the world including: Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and Florida. In 2000 he began competing in the longer distance traditional paddling races, and through the years he has has won paddle races on 10’6”,12’ and 18’ traditional (prone) paddleboards.
Then Stand Up Paddling came into his life. During his first week on his first SUP, Vela paddled for countless hours with blue whales off the coast of Redondo Beach. Looking down on these majestic creatures, he realized the unique vantage point that standing on a board presented when paddling and like many, he was instantly hooked.
In January of 2012, Vela co-founded Performance Paddling with Candice Appleby, a company offering various services including personal sup racing/surfing coaching, sup racing clinics, kids camps, corporate team building events, and motivational speaking.
A few highlights for Vela include winning the Carolina Cup, winning the SUP surfing in the San Clemente Ocean Festival, and working my way through the 64-person trials and into the main event of the Stand UP World Tour event in Huntington Beach. He recently placed 1st in the Dempsey Holder Surf Festival for longboarding and 1st place Santa Cruz Shootout paddle race. Vela’s other sponsors include: Boardworks, Maui Jim, Quickblade, Victory KoreDry, Honolua and FCS.