Tag Archives: Yolo Board

NASCAR’s Edwards, Petty Try Paddleboarding

By Pete Williams

We love how NASCAR drivers are always looking to test their limits, as if piloting a race car more than 150 miles an hour around a track for five hours isn’t enough of a challenge.

Just hours after the finish of NASCAR’s Coke Zero 400 race in Daytona Beach on Saturday night, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne posted competitive times in a sprint triathlon in South Carolina.

Carl Edwards and Kyle Petty, meanwhile, tried their hand at stand-up paddleboarding. Our friends at YOLO board, the SUP manufacturer in Santa Rosa Beach, provided some custom boards wrapped to look like their race cars. Edwards and Petty took a spin around a lake adjacent to the Daytona International Speedway and looked pretty good for first timers.

You can see video of the one-lap race on NASCAR’s site here:


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Great American Paddle-In

By Pete Williams

Talking paddling and writing

I love the Great American Teach-In, where parents come to school and talk with their kids’ classes about what they do for a living.

As a writer, though, it’s a challenge to compete with brave people in uniform: cops, firefighters, military. They have cool stories and even better props.

I did my first Teach-In in 2008 and back then I thought kids might find my sportswriter perspective interesting. After all, my kids go to a school adjacent to the Toronto Blue Jays spring training site. Tampa Bay is a sports crazed market. Surely, they’d find it cool that I go to sports events, interview athletes, and write about it.

What I found, however, is kids weren’t that interested, which should trouble those who run professional sports teams. When I was 8 years old, I could rattle off every player on the Blue Jays – at the time a two-year-old expansion franchise – and I lived in Virginia.

These days, I wonder what would happen if Jose Bautista walked behind the outfield wall during spring training, strolled through the school courtyard and into the lunchroom in uniform. How many kids would know who he was?

I gave my same sportswriter spiel in 2009 and 2010. I brought a DVD of my television appearances talking sports and kids found that slightly more interesting.

Today I took a different approach, bringing in a stand-up paddleboard and an iPad, which I used to show off Paddle Fit, the “vook” (video book) on stand-up paddleboarding I had the honor of writing with SUP guru Brody Welte, who recently moved from the Tampa Bay area to San Diego.

Even though I only brought an 8-foot kids paddleboard, as opposed to my 12-foot-6 board, that was enough to draw oohs and ahs the moment I walked in the door. I demonstrated how to size a paddle and proper paddling technique. The vook helped a lot.

The third graders and first graders asked a lot of great questions about writing and paddleboarding, though the first graders seemed much more concerned about encountering sharks.

Why didn’t I take this approach earlier for the Great American Teach-In? After all, the media world I’ve worked in over the last 20 years is unrecognizable today. Who knows what it will look like in five years?

Last week, I spoke to a feature writing class at the University of South Florida, a group composed of communications majors. I couldn’t help but wonder what these kids planned to do with their degrees.

Go into journalism? Really?

The first graders and third graders are passionate about writing. They asked what I like to write about and I stressed how it’s a lot easier to write about things that interest you. For me, that’s been sports, business, fitness, and now endurance sports. Adapt to new technologies – like the iPad and vook – and you can keep writing forever, at least I hope.

After speaking to my second class, I packed up the paddles and board and headed out. I’m not doing noble work like the folks in uniform, but at least I could hold my own at The Great American Teach-In.

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Entrepreneur Magazine Features YOLO

By Pete Williams

Happy YOLO Board Riders

Entrepreneur magazine featured YOLO Board founders Jeff Archer and Tom Losee in the August issue. Since establishing YOLO Board five years ago, the Santa Rosa Beach entrepreneurs have built one of the most recognizable brands in stand-up paddling.

YOLO – it’s an acronym for “You Only Live Once” – is the dominant brand in Florida, which is significant since Florida has more warm weather and calm water than anywhere in the United States. The company has earned a reputation for quality products and customer service, always a good success strategy.

The company is thriving this year; Archer told Entrepreneur that sales during the first quarter of 2011 were double the same period in 2010. We’re a little bummed that YOLO canceled its wonderful Seaside Celebration paddle board race weekend in September to focus on its core business. But given the demand for YOLO boards, that’s more than understandable.

YOLO will be prominently featured in the video of an upcoming “vook” I’ve written with SUP guru Brody Welte that will be out later this summer.

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SUP Hot Spot: Sandbridge Beach, Va.

By Pete Williams

Sandbridge SUP guru Anne Gassett

I was having a conversation recently with a couple of Florida-based stand-up paddle board gurus who were extolling the virtues of the greater Destin area, often referred to as the Beaches of South Walton, as perhaps the best location in the nation for SUP.

It’s tough to argue with them. The 30-A communities around Santa Rosa Beach have plenty of flat water and mostly year-round warm weather. But 30-A also has an ideal demographic. It attracts mostly vacationing families looking for laid-back family fun. There’s nothing better for that than stand-up paddleboarding. The terrific folks at YOLO Board picked an ideal place to launch their business. The company’s annual YOLO Seaside Celebration (Sept. 6-10) is an awesome week-long celebration of the sport.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, is similar but not quite as ideal a demographic. Tampa Bay has plenty of flat water, a warmer climate than 30-A and a much larger population. But it’s more of a Budweiser and jet ski crowd.

What other place, we wondered, is comparable to 30-A?

One came to my mind immediately: Sandbridge. As the name suggests, it’s basically a giant sandbar between the Atlantic Ocean and the Back Bay just south of the Oceana Naval Air Base and the Virginia Beach strip. There’s no commercial development, just single-family homes rented only to families.

I spent a good chunk of my childhood at Sandbridge, which in recent years has been put on the map by native son Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals. Surely, I thought, there must be someone in Sandbridge taking advantage of the growing interest in stand-up paddle boarding.

As it turns out, there is. Anne Gassett is an ACE-certified trainer, Sandbridge resident, long-time OC6 competitor, SUP enthusiast, and bootcamp instructor. In January, she ventured to Fl0rida and completed Brody Welte’s Paddle Fit certification class and has expanded her SUP business, giving lessons and renting/selling YOLO boards in Sandbridge.

I’m guessing there aren’t too many places where you can walk 100 yards in one direction and launch your board in the ocean and 100 yards in another direction and launch in a massive body of water like the Back Bay. But you can do that in Sandbridge, where surfers have enjoyed the ocean side for decades.

Just when I didn’t think I could enjoy Sandbridge anymore than I do, I got the thrill of seeing it by paddleboard today courtesy of Anne Gassett, who along with her husband Bill will be hosting the Back Bay Hei Hei Race in Sandbridge on Oct. 8-9.

Sandbridge is only about six miles long, not including the wonderful Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. That’s only a fraction of the Beaches of South Walton. But I’m guessing it won’t be long before Sandbridge becomes part of the discussion whenever people talk about premier locations for stand-up paddle boarding.

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Race of the Week: Yolo Board Winter Race Series No.4

By Pete Williams

Chuck Patterson (right) is one of the top athletes in stand-up paddle boarding

Brody Welte figures there were just 20 people in the entire Tampa Bay area participating in stand-up paddling when he moved to St. Petersburg from Hawaii just two years ago.

On Saturday, the owner of Stand Up Fitness likely will have at least three times that many people in the fourth race in his Yolo Board Winter Race Series. The sport of “SUP” is exploding nationally and perhaps nowhere more than in Florida because of the Sunshine State’s year-round warm weather and flat, calm water.

The sport embraces newcomers. It’s not unusual for someone to take a lesson and enter a race the following day. Though some “veterans” of the sport (who took it up way back in 2007 or ’08) will navigate the course quickly, most will finish at a more leisurely pace. I entered a race in October after just two brief stints and will be out there Saturday.

Location: Clearwater Community Sailing Center1001 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater

History: This is the fourth and final race of the Yolo Board Winter Race Series. The second race also took place at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center in January. The event’s organizer, Brody Welte of Stand Up Fitness Inc., also is the organizer of the second-annual Gulf Coast Stand Up Paddleboard Championship (May 21-22) in Madeira Beach, which is quickly emerging as one of the top SUP events on the East Coast.

Format: Paddlers compete in four categories: 12’6 and under stock board, 12’6 race board, 14′ race board and unlimited board. There’s a single four-mile race with paddlers entering the water in two waves: race boards and stock boards. For paddlers who have been competing in the four-event series, this race will determine the winners. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with a mandatory paddlers meeting at 10:30. Race begins at 11 a.m.

Schwag: Green T-shirts in honor of St. Patrick’s Day week. Similar design to the popular styles for the previous three races.

Signature Feature: Bow-tie course layout is technical, but not too challenging for less experienced paddlers.

Post-Race: Barbecue included with entry fee; $5 for guests

Cost: $35 pre-registration, $40 race-day

Sign-Up: Active.com

Comment: “We’ve had a strong turnout all winter even with it being a little chilly, but with the beautiful March weather we should have ideal conditions and a great turnout.” – Brody Welte, race director

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