The Sunshine State arguably boasts the deepest roster of high-level paddlers in the nation. To stand out among these fast watermen and women, you’ve got to have a pretty solid “A” game. Flavio Costa is one of those select few that places at or near the top of every race in the region. We spoke with Flavio to get the lowdown on his backstory.
SN: Age when you started kayaking
FC: Cant remember exactly, I think I was 12.
FC: Home improvements and renovations.
SN: Where do you live?
FC: Palm Coast, Florida
SN: Where else have you lived and where are you from originally?
FC: Newark, New Jersey. Originally from Aveiro, Portugal.
SN: How old were you when you came to America?
FC: I just turned 21 when I first came to the USA.
SN: Any differences between America and Portugal in terms of paddlesports? What style of racing is more popular?
FC: Yes much more competitive with more young people involved. It was a while back but it didn't feel like a business, more of a sport. Marathon and sprints are both very popular. I never heard about surfski until a few years ago, now it is starting to pick up very fast and a lot of people are doing it.
FC: North Florida Watermen and Elite Ocean Sports.
SN: What are the North Florida Watermen?
FC: We are just a group of paddlers: Surfski, Spec Ski, OC1 and SUP that don't like to paddle by ourselves. We eventually decided to name it. Unfortunately, I live an hour away from all the guys/girls. I try to meet up with them at least once a week if I can. Some of us get a training schedule from Lee Mcgregor but with my busy schedule, I can’t train all 6 days.
FC: Nelo 560
SN: What do you like about the 560?
FC: I always liked the brand Nelo. The 560m, reminds me of the K1 I used to paddle. It is comfortable, shorter than most and turns a bit quicker.
SN: Paddle and settings you favor (length and feather angle)?
FC: Jantex. Depending on the conditions, I vary length from 210 cm to 212 cm at 65 degrees.
It is the Gamma Rio medium flexi-soft shaft.
SN: Background in paddlesports?
FC: All my teenage years I raced flatwater sprints and marathons.
SN: Preference or discipline you enjoyed the most?
FC: I enjoyed doing marathon the most, it was more challenging and tactical.
SN: How did you start on the surfski?
FC: Started paddling Surfski in 2011. I like to race, but for flatwater racing, there were only a few races per year (in America) so
I borrowed a surfski from a friend (Jan Lupinski), and did my first surfski race in Connecticut and loved it.
SN: Lighthouse to Lighthouse?
SN: What was it about the surfski that you enjoyed?
FC: Wasn't limited to paddling on flat water. On a surfski, I could catch waves or go through waves and the boat wouldn’t sink. You could keep on paddling. You could go anywhere you wanted.
SN: Do you have a background in other sports or other water sports?
FC: No, when I started paddling I didn't even know how to swim.
SN: Most Notable Results?
FC: I’ve got a few first places but the most memorable were when I got 3rd place in Portugal in the National Marathon. It was pretty good because the competition there is fierce. I qualified to be part of a team to race against the best of Portugal.
SN: What year did this occur?
FC: The 3rd place in the marathon was in 1998, I qualified to be part of a team when I was 14, 15 and 16, I believe.
SN: K1 marathon is rarely seen in the states, would you like to see the growth to reflect the European scene?
FC: I would like to see more serious kayak races in general. In K1 marathon, I would give it a shot again.
SN: Best experience on the ski?
FC: On my first surfski race at the Lighthouse To Lighthouse race in Connecticut, I came in 3rd right behind Joe Glickman, one of the nicest guys I ever met. He asked who I was and congratulated me on my 3rd place, it felt very special.
SN: What are your future plans on the boat?
FC: I'm going to keep on paddling. I like challenges and the rush of a race but I'm also trying to get my son involved; other kids might see it and decide to try it as well.
SN: Thank you Flavio.