Tony Schaefer, From the Saddle to the Paddle
For most of his life, Tony Schaefer was a horseman in his home state of New Mexico. Trail riding in the desert, long pack trips and journeys into the great Gila Wilderness were his passion. After losing his last and best saddle horse, he moved to his new home in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico and stepped onto his first standup paddleboard. Four years later, he has now found a new passion for long distance paddling upon the Riviera Maya seas.
As he puts it, the transition was a natural one. “Riding through the mesquite brush of the mesas of New Mexico was a Zen like experience. The grand scenery, the pace and gait, the terrain. But, in paddling, on my board alone on the seas, I gained a new Zen. I’ll always miss riding my horse, but paddling is my life.”
Tony is also an ardent advocate for the environment. He served as the Chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and authored the states first Renewable Power Portfolio Standard rules. Today, he works to draw attention to the preservation of his home bay, Bahia Fatima and the entire coastal marine ecosystem. It is part of his inspiration for paddling. “I spend a lot of time in and on the waters of the Riviera Maya, and I see so much from the vantage point of my board. Although our waters are relatively pristine, it is easy to see the effects of humans upon the reefs, just like it was easy to see trash in the wilderness. I see not just the effects of global warming but also global trashing. Because I love my sport and depend upon the sea, I advocate for its health.”
Fitness is a major benefit of his passion for paddling. “At 67, I value every day, every moment. Paddling gives me a release for my energy, a purpose for my being. The feeling of expending my energy on the waves, in the current, wind in my hair, at one with the moment…it is the essence of Zen. I have never been more fit in my life.”