UPDATE: Paddle Out Scheduled Saturday in Honor of Long Beach Waterwoman Sophia Tiaré Bartlow


Photo courtesy of Flhi Girls Surfing & Sports.

sophia2UPDATE | This Saturday a paddle out in memory of the Wilson High School alumni, champion stand up paddle surfer and Long Beach native, Sophia Tiaré Bartlow, will take place on the north side of the Huntington Beach pier at 9:00AM.

“She had a love of the ocean, that relaxed her, it was her refuge, it gave her energy, just like her mom got from it,” said Steve Marion, Bartlow’s surfing coach when she was a student at Wilson High School. “She really had her mom’s spirit. She had her mother’s love of the ocean and her father and mother’s discipline in her training.”

Marion, who coached Bartlow all four years from 2004 to 2008, said that she made him look good as an instructor, thanks to her mother, Jericho Poppler, who guided her on the beach and in the water.

“As a surfer, I was lucky to have a young woman who had so much skill and such wonderful grooming,” he said. “She brought the ‘Aloha’ joyful spirit of sharing life and love with her to the beach each day. And every day, she would greet me with her enthusiastic ‘Hi Mare,’ or ‘Good morning Mare Bear.’”

Marion, who suffers blindness in one eye, would often look for where Bartlow or Raquel, her older sister, were going because they could read where the waves were coming from, having been raised by a champion longboarder. Pictured left is a photo taken when the two were inducted into Wilson’s athletic hall of fame, courtesy of Marion.

When asked if they kept in contact after she graduated, Marion said she would come down to the water all the time.

“She used to come down on the beach to inspire the kids and encourage them,” he said. “[…]She was improving year after year and getting better, every year. She was one of these kids that would just hop on whatever she had and would ride it and would ride it well.”

Bartlow was in training to follow her dream of representing the United States in the 2020 Olympic Games as a stand up long and/or short and/or stand up paddle surfer, said Marion.

A paddle out was also held in Haleiwa, Hawaii on Friday morning to celebrate Bartlow’s life, according to APP World Tour.

“To me, Sophia was the personification of the ocean,” said Marion. “She had all its strengths, weaknesses, and wonders. To those of us who knew her, she brought all of us those joys by just being Sophia.”

Attendees of Saturday’s paddle out at the Huntington Beach pier are encouraged to wear bright colors in celebration of her life and shining character.

PREVIOUSLY: Surf Community, Long Beach Mourns the Loss of Champion Waterwoman Sophia Tiaré Bartlow

1/30/17 at 5:41PM | In a tragic turn of events near Oahu’s North Shore, Long Beach and the surfing community, lost a bright and shining light. Word spread quickly following several reports by Hawaiian news outlets that waterwoman and Sea Sister Sophia Tiaré Bartlow, 26, who grew up in Long Beach, passed away Saturday night after sustaining major injuries following a car accident.

The crash took place at approximately 10:15PM on Saturday in Waialua, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

A 35-year-old Waialua man, identified as Sage Candelaria and said to be Bartlow’s boyfriend, according to Hawaii News Now, was speeding toward Kahuku on Waialua Beach Road when he lost control, crossed into the oncoming lane and hit a large tree in the front yard of a home.

Paramedics said Bartlow was unrestrained and was found rolled over near the vehicle. She was taken to a hospital in extreme critical condition where she was pronounced dead, according to the report.

The man was taken to the hospital in serious condition and was later arrested. He has since been released and is under investigation for first-degree negligent homicide, drunk driving and driving without a license. According to the advertiser’s report, police said “alcohol and excessive speed” were factors in the incident.

Bartlow was a national and world class Stand Up Paddle (SUP) surfer and racer, was nominated for the 2015 SUP Woman of the Year, was the 2014 US SUP Tour national champion and the US SUP Surfing longboard and shortboard champion. She was both the Hawaii and West Coast state shortboard champion and the California state champion for the longboard.

She was also a recipient of the Most Inspirational Surfer award at the Miss Malibu Pro Women’s Longboarding Invitational in 2014, given in memory of Diane Sanders, a Malibu surfing legend who lost her life to breast cancer in 2009.

As a student at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School, Bartlow made waves as Wilson’s first individual state champion and as a four-year varsity letterman surfer. She also joined her mother, Jericho Poppler, world champion longboarder and founder of the Women’s International Surfing Association, as the 201st athlete to be added to Wilson’s athletic hall of fame.

She would go on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii in 2013, making the dean’s list as a cultural anthropology major.

Bartlow had a goal of obtaining 2017 world titles in stand up paddle surfing and racing, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. She had created a GoFundMe page in 2015 to garner support to achieve those dreams.

In a 2015 interview with surfboardmagazinepr.com regarding her nomination for SUP Woman of the Year, Bartlow said, “I am [a] third generation waterwoman of Long Beach, California, grateful to be who I am and come from where I do.”

When asked what advice she would give to the surfing community, Bartlow responded, “Life is a gift. We are immensely blessed to be surfers. In my view, life is not just [a] gift to take, take, take and deplete. We, especially as surfers have a responsibility, a kuleana, a dharma to protect the ocean and land that constantly gives to us. Everyone always says, ‘Take Care’ but what I have learned from my experience and especially from the Hawaiian’s is to Malama. To not just take care but to give care in return.”

“Longboarding champ, SUP racer and the girl with a great golden smile. That’s how Sophia Tiaré Bartlow will always be remembered,” Standup Journal included in their write-up about her passing.

We will update this article if and when news is shared regarding a memorial service.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.