Stand-up paddling professional Paulina Herpel rides the wave on the coast of Biarritz.

Natural Champion


Natural Champion

Words by Magdalena Behrens
Photography by Marko Mestrovic
September 1, 2018

Stand-up-paddleboarding pro Paulina Herpel takes the e-Golf to the coast around Biarritz in south-western France to seek out the perfect wave. She knows the best surf spots well. Electric mobility, on the other hand, is new territory for her.

Charge the lithium-ion battery of the e-Golf overnight via a household outlet.
Surfing is a sport for early risers because the best conditions can often be found in the morning. For this reason, Paulina makes her way to the beach at daybreak. She simply charged the e-Golf’s lithium-ion battery using a household socket overnight at her tour accommodation. In this domain, mobility is indispensable. The best surf spots are usually only accessible with a car.
Stand-up paddle in the boot of the e-Golf
The boot of the e-Golf offers enough space for the stand-up paddle, wetsuit and everything else Paulina needs throughout the day.

Water (H2O) is, by definition, a chemical compound of the elements oxygen and hydrogen – for Paulina Herpel, it is more than this: a sense of happiness. Perfect waves, a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), a paddle – fundamentally, this is all that is required to conjure up an animated smile on the face of the Hamburg native and 2017 German champion in the SUP disciplines of Wave, Technical Race and Whitewater. The 20-year-old is a real water lover – as she puts it, maybe even a bit of a “water addict”.


Passion for water and waves

Her surfer parents laid the cornerstone for this, taking every opportunity with their children, and still doing so, of spending their free time and holidays close to the water. This connection to the wet element really does involve the whole family: even both dogs take their places on the stand-up paddleboards on quieter tours. “When it comes to planning holidays, the idea comes up at regular intervals to switch to a normal city trip or similar for a change,” Paulina grins. “But the passion for water and waves is too strong. So we always end up near rivers, lakes or the coast.” Denmark’s Klitmøller, also known on the surf scene as “Cold Hawaii”, has thus almost become a second home for Paulina. Her enthusiasm for stand-up paddleboarding even has its roots here. Paulina Herpel now travels around the world with her board and paddle.

e-Golf with full LED headlights
The appropriate Volkswagen accessories: Paulina’s stand-up paddleboard is securely attached to the surfboard rack on the roof with straps. The front view of the vehicle is characterised among other things by the full-LED headlights whose colour is similar to daylight. The integrated blue band is typical for electric models. Another typical feature is the LED daytime driving lights with characteristic C signature.
I especially like the action-packed disciplines where technical skill and quick, intuitive actions are required.
Paulina Herpel
Stand-up paddle board on the roof rack of the e-Golf
Paulina is preparing for her next surfing session. After putting on her wetsuit, the athlete frees the board from the roof rack. The 20-year-old’s growing sense of anticipation is palpable – because in a few minutes, she will be in the water, her favourite element. She always loved being in the water, which is why the sport suits her so well.

“Stand-up paddleboarding is a very diverse sport that can be practised on all types of water. This diversity is what is so appealing to me. I especially like the action-packed disciplines where technical skill and quick, intuitive actions are required.”


First contact with electric mobility

Paulina spends a lot of time on the water because of her sport. This has led to a very deep connection with nature. “When I’m waiting on my board for a wave, looking towards the horizon, and I see this seemingly infinite expanse, then that is something special. I hope we can enjoy this beauty for a very long time. I have often organised so-called beach clean-ups with friends – rubbish collecting in groups – so I can at least make a small contribution to this. Because of this affinity with nature, I also find topics such as electric mobility fascinating,” explains Paulina. The tour with the e-Golf through Biarritz is a premiere for the likeable athlete: this is the first time that she has driven a purely electrically powered vehicle. “With the e-Golf, I especially like the combination of a powerful but incredibly quiet drive and the dynamic driving feel. I think it’s great that the tendency is for our future mobility to be more heavily based on alternative drives.”

Waves on the coast near Biarritz
Looking to the waves: with her board clasped under her arm, Paulina makes her way to the beach.
Wave ride with the stand-up paddle board at Biarritz
Paulina in her element: even if the water sports enthusiast knows how to appreciate a quiet SUP tour with friends and family on calm waters, she still prefers hurling herself into the waves. Here, balance, the right technique and, every now and then, courage are required. When surfing, the paddle serves as drive, steering and as an aid for increased balance and stability.

Mobility is an important aspect

In order to practise her sport, it is important for Paulina to be mobile. Because, without a vehicle, a number of surf spots would not be so easily accessible. What’s more, the time factor is another significant aspect: good conditions are not always present all day, but only at particular times. Often, they are at their best in the early morning. This is why, during Paulina’s trip to Biarritz, it was important to be out of bed as early as possible.


A shrill alarm at six in the morning would well and truly spoil most people’s mood, but not the SUP pro: “I’ve already looked at the waves at one of my favourite spots on the webcam; there are really good sets coming in. Let’s go!” With well-versed hand movements, Paulina happily packs the equipment in the boot of the e-Golf and fixes the stand-up paddleboard to the roof rack with straps. A familiar practice. Only one detail is different: the purely electric drive of the vehicle that will take her to the surf spot.

With the e-Golf, I especially like the combination of a powerful but incredibly quiet drive and the dynamic driving feel.
Paulina Herpel