Gladiator of the Week–Jeremy Riggs
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    One of the really cool things about running a Stand Up Paddle website, is that you get to meet some really cool people.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten to know Jeremy Riggs, of Maui, as I prepared for this article.  What a great guy, and a great talent.

    Often how I come to decide on who to highlight for a Gladiator of The Week Award/Profile, is by recommendation.  I get phone calls, and emails from folks, who believe that person X is really deserving and fits well with what the award is all about.  A person who really takes the sport of SUP to the next  level.

    Jeremy is one of those guys whose name came up multiple times.  Everyone I spoke with, raved about his abilities in the water.  They also couldn’t stop talking about what a humble and multitalented waterman he is.

    Prior to the last couple of weeks, most of my knowledge about Jeremy had to do with his Big Wave riding accomplishments.  He has been mentioned in the Standup Zone forums more than once, detailing the ridiculous waves this guy charges.  See here for one example and great story.

    What I discovered through my research though, is he’s also an accomplished racer, especially in the distance runs.  On top of that, he is a well respected down-winder too.  All in all, a great waterman and someone the sport is lucky to have as an ambassador.

    Jeremy on F16

    General info and bio

    SG – Where are you from, and where do you live now?

    JR – I am originally from Wilmington, NC and have lived on Maui for the last 14 years. 

    SG – How long have you been paddling?

    JR – I started doing down-winders on a prone paddleboard in 2002 and started doing SUP in 2005.
    SG – Who or what got you into it?

    JR – Dave Kalama
    SG – What disciplines of the sport do you participate in, and which one in your favorite? 

    JR – Big waves are my favorite. I still have fun when it’s small, but if it’s tiny I’d rather do a down-winder. 
    SG -  Who are some of the guys you paddle with out on Maui? 

    JR – Randy Royse, Livio Menelau, Dave Kalama, Mark Raaphorst, Slater Trout, Connor Baxter, Bill Foote, and Noah Yap (to name a few)

    Jeremy, Mark, Connor, and Livio on a downwind run

    SG -  How did you get to know Dave Kalama and what influence has he had on you?

    JR – We were neighbors for years and we got to know each other. I would see all the water toys in his truck and noticed how much time he was spending in the water, even when it was small and/or windy. He turned me onto paddle boarding and then to SUP. 
    SG – What is the biggest wave you have ever ridden?
    JR – I’ve heard it was about 15 foot Hawaiian.  (~25-30ft faces)

    SG – What is the most memorable session you have ever had?

    JR – November 2, 2010, biggest wave and biggest barrel of my life; outer reef Maui.


    SG -  Speaking of big wave riding, how did the news of Sion’s death affect you?  You have a wife and kids now.  How does that factor in to things as you go out in these massive conditions, especially given the news of Sion?

    JR – I didn’t know Sion personally, but after hearing of his death I realize that some things are out of your control when surfing big waves. When I’m out in big waves I make sure to be around people I feel comfortable with, so that we can look out for each other. As soon as I feel uncomfortable, it’s time to head home and blow bubbles on the deck with my girls. 



    SG – Talk to me about your racing career.  How are you doing in that aspect of the sport?

    JR – There’s a big race every year (since 2006) on Maui (from Maliko Gulch to the Harbor) that I’ve been fortunate enough to win the stock rudderless division every year.  This year I was 1st in my division and 5th overall.  The only guys that came in ahead of me were on unlimited sized boards (I was on a rudderless 14’) and had names like, Dave Kalama, Jamie Mitchell, Livio Menalau, and Scott Trudon.

    Just  had a race this weekend in awesome conditions (MCKC Maliko) where I won the stock 14’ rudderless division.

    Here are a few more that come to mind:
    -Molokai Holokai 1st place overall 2010
    -Maui to Molokai 1st place relay team with Slater Trout
    -Molokai to Oahu 3rd place relay team with Nabile Vogele in 2007
    -Molokai to Oahu 2nd place relay team with Mark Rapphorst (SIC) in 2009


    Custom Boards

    SG -  I hear you are working on building your own signature downwind boards.  Is that correct? 

    JR – Yes, my partner and I are working on a few projects now. 
    SG – What can you tell us about your plans for the boards and how you will be selling them?

    JR – We are making hollow core boards that are going to be fast and light…
    SG – What will be your major selling point or differentiation of your boards versus the other downwind boards that are out there today?

    JR – We are going to really focus on making them Fast and light, with a variety of different models to accommodate different riders.

    SG – Changing gears a little,  If you were to have just one, who would you say is your biggest hero of the sport?  Anyone you particularly admire?

    JR – I can’t name just one person whom I admire. I’ve seen so many athletes do incredible things in several different water disciplines; and I’ve had the pleasure of surfing and/or paddling with most of them. I’d say that Jamie Mitchell is high up on the list for what he’s accomplished these last 10 years. Dave, being one of the modern pioneers of SUP; has always pushed my limits and made me try new things. Watching him in big waves has been inspirational.  Of course, I’d never be where I am today without the support of my wife and kids always cheering me on, dropping me off for paddles, and having faith in me.

      Some more videos of Jeremy  in action

    Jeremy showing off on some small waves, with some whales breaching in the distance


    Jeremy down-winding and making it look easy


    Additional Photos





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About The Author

Casey Gotcher

2 Responses and Counting...

  • Jeremy has always been an amazing young man. We are so proud of him and his accompishments. His dad and I have always felt he would be successful in whatever he did in lfe. God truly blessed us with a loving, gentle, thoughtful and amazing son. We are also so blessed to have a daughter in law that supports his passion. Of course the loves of his life are his wife and two beautiful girls.
    Thank you for honoring our son with such a great article.
    Susan Roethlinger-Riggs

  • Jeremy, Susan is my first cousin, and she asked that I take a look at the awesome piece that was done about you on this site. I was truly amazed and know that Susan and Glenn are so proud of you. Congratulations on being the Gladiator of the Week. You make us all proud. Keep up the awesome work! God bless you and your family!

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