Florida born Justin Cook has grown up with the water as a big influence in his life, living both in Defuniak Springs and now Destin. An auspicious coincidence brought both lifeguarding and SUP into Justin’s life at the same time when he came under the wing of waterman and YOLO Rider Gary Wise. With a little training, coaching and encouragement, Justin competed in his first race in Cocoa Beach over three years ago and has been hooked on the sport ever since, quickly earning a reputation as an elite paddler in races across the state.
Justin enjoys the camaraderie that can be found amongst SUP racers saying that he’s never been involved in a sport that includes so many fierce competitors that at the same time are some of the coolest and nicest individuals around. A top accomplishment for Justin from the past year was finishing 6th overall in Distance and 2nd overall in Sprint in the 2011 Orange Bowl Stand Up Paddleboard Championship.
In addition to paddling and competing, Justin serves as a Senior Lifeguard, USLA Lifeguard Training Officer and Junior Lifeguard Coordinator for the South Walton Fire District.
1st place in 2011 Key West Classic, 1st place in 2011 SouthEast Florida Paddle Championship, and 1st place in 2011 East Coast Paddleboard Championships.
Chameleon/Surfer…I blend in wherever I am, but I’m most comfortable in a pair of board shorts.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
2011 WPA/Region 5 – 12’6″ Men’s – 1st place. This was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year and, wow, did it feel good to be able to fulfill it. Now I have to set the bar higher and that’s exactly what I’ll do.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
My idea of a perfect day would consist of the perfect surf session, followed by great food, music, and relaxation on the beach with some friends until the sun goes down.
What living person is your greatest influence?
My biggest influence I’d say is Gary Wise. Gary is such an awesome coach/mentor and has helped me become the paddler I am today.
In what place do you feel most inspired?
Still searching. I have a competitive personality so at the time I’d have to say when I’m out on the beach with my fellow lifeguards on training day. Somewhere with consistent surf would bring out the best in me.
What do you value most in life?
My family. Positive and upbeat, they have been there through everything and support me in whatever I do.