Truckee’s Ryan Funk wins first Junior SUP World Championship | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s Ryan Funk wins first Junior SUP World Championship

Truckee native Ryan Funk captured his first International Surfing Association stand-up paddleboard world championship last week, taking gold in the Under-18 Technical Race at the World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Wanning, China.

Funk, 18, has emerged as one of the sport’s best athletes during the past few years, winning multiple events, but said capturing the world title is one of his proudest achievements.

"This is one of the best because of the competition level and what I've put in and worked for to get here," said Funk. "I've been training pretty hard for the past four or five weeks, eating healthy, being on a diet, training six days out of the week.

"I'm just super grateful. It's still kind of hard to believe with all of the work I've put into it."

Funk took on 15 other paddlers in the games' first ever Under-18 Technical Race on Nov. 28, and made his way through the course with a time of 31 minutes, 8.86 seconds to defeat New Zealand's Oliver Houghton (31:19:56).

"It's kind of in and out through waves," said Funk on racing in the technical division in Riyue Bay. "We have four laps and on each of the laps we go inside the surf two times, run on the beach with your board around a flag, and then head back out."

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Funk's win also gave Team USA a sweep in the event as Jade Howson captured first place on the girls' side with a time of 36:13:61.

As a whole, Team USA finished in second place with 14,853 points. Australia won the overall title with 15,748 points.

LONG WAY FROM HOME

The Trip to China was also a first for Funk, who lives in Maui, Hawaii, but was born in Truckee, learned to paddle on Donner Lake, and was trained by Jay Wild.

"It was actually very tropical, almost like Maui," he said on being in Wanning. "The people there were nice, at least in the little surf town we were staying in. It was cool to see all of the cultural stuff. It's hard to compare it to anything."

Funk said he will compete again next January in Baja, Mexico, taking part in a foil board race. The relatively new sport, which uses a board with a hydrofoil extending below into the water, is something Funk said he sees eventually joining the fold as part of the International Surfing Association world championships.

"Foiling is taking off," said Funk. "It's one of my favorite things to do for sure. It's just so new, I'd say only two years old. They used to do it way back when on big waves, but they'd be in like snowboard boots and had to get towed in by a jet ski. Now we can catch a 1-foot wave and you're up forever."

Funk could be seen on a foil board at last August's Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival, where he came to the aid of a downed paddler at the end of one of the day's races.

Between now and his next competition, Funk said he'll be spending his time big wave surfing at one of the more legendary breaks, Pe'ahi, also known as Jaws.

"It's winter time here," said Funk during a phone interview on Dec. 5, before hitting the waves. "So I've been really focusing on the big waves."

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.