Join team Rogue as they tackle the not so corporative conditions of the Columbia Gorge in beautiful Hood River, Oregon. Donate to the Andres Pombo Fund HERE.
Here are a few words from Andres’ friends in the Florida SUP community:
So many words come to mind when you hear that name. Fun, silly, sincere, goofy, always smiling, helpful, giving, someone you could always count on. And the list goes on and on. Andres was an overall extremely amazing example for the sport of SUP. He was always there to help and teach those who wanted to learn, from kids to his Special Olympic athletes. When it came to putting on his game face, he was ready, and would give anyone a run for their money, especially when it came to sprinting. But even at the moments where he was grinding the hardest against his competition, you could always count on looking over at him and seeing a huge smile on his face. This was the Andres we all knew!
For myself, personally, when I knew Andres was going to be at a race, he would be my speed gauge. I knew I would be around him for the most part so my goal was to always keep up with him, which always provided great entertainment for myself during these grueling race minutes. Because girls are not allowed to draft guys, I would always wind up on the side of Andres, which was something that always made my races more fun. We would chat and laugh through the sweat and in between breaths, egg each other on to try to catch the people in front of us. Andres was always someone I wanted to not just use as a speed gauge, but also someone to be by my side during these racing moments to make the time go by faster, because when you were around him, things were just more fun.
I know this is the same on and off the board for many people who knew and loved Andres. Being around him was simply just more fun. He will be missed and carried in our hearts always.
I know Paddleboarding brought true happiness to Andres. I know he loved being out there in the water, enjoying all the beauty there is. I know he also enjoyed training with friends. Making every session a fun session. I know He loved to challenge himself by going to races. Where he would always make new friends thanks to his extraordinary personality. I know he loved giving his time to coaching kids for the Special Olympics. Showing them the joy of being out on the water by sharing his passion. I know he had the most romantic paddling sessions with his adorable wife Luz, where they sang beautiful bolero songs to one another. But what Andres never imagined, was all the greatness and power he was going to be able to give back to this sport and to the SUP Community. He was not just a paddleboarder, he was a great guy with a great heart with the power to inspire and move a lot of people. HE HAD THE POWER TO REUNITE US ALL!!! He had the power to make his way of living a example to follow. He made us look into our own live's and appreciate the present even more. He made us get closer to our friends. And he made us love our loved ones even more. And for all that, I personally thank you Andrecito. Despite the pain of not having him as we know, I'm exited for all the positive things they are still to come out of this. They are going to KEEP HIM MORE ALIVE THAN EVER!!! So, as his wife Luz said "I ask you to remember him with happiness and not with tears." See you in the water.
This SUP community, or should I say family, continually surprises me on how tight knit and positive its members are. Maybe it is the nature of the sport, since the sport itself has positively impacted so many of us. Andres perfectly represented our community and our sport, competitive, but yet, always smiling and always willing to help and just basically leaving people happy with a positive vibe. Our Florida SUP community has now grown even stronger and closer after this tragedy, just the way Andres would want it.
The Loss of a Brother - I am sure everyone that knew him would say he was the perfect example of what someone in the SUP community should strive to be. From being an inspiration as a Special Olympics coach to helping others achieve better success paddling.
He was always laughing or smiling and truly enjoyed everyone he met, and they felt it. The #livelikepombo hashtag is all about the way he lived his life and the way his character surpassed so many. It was never meant to celebrate how it ended. It was a tragic mistake that echoed through the SUP community and shook the Florida SUP community to its core.
We have some amazing people in the SUP community, and as painful as this is, we will learn from this and become stronger people. Tell people to wear their protective gear. Paddle with a buddy. Let’s keep the celebration of life with all the members present and accounted for. There is no replacing someone like Andres.
Article and Photos by Lori Griffith