By James Forrest
This past winter, Greg Lloyd came to the Forrest Firm and told me his vision for a new Triangle company focused on educating the public about a relatively new, fast-growing sport called stand up paddleboarding. By the time the summer season rolled in this June, Greg had successfully launched Inland Shores Paddleboard Company.
Stand up paddleboarding, also known by enthusiasts as SUP, is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the world, and combines elements of surfing with techniques seen in other paddle sports. The boards are big, typically ranging from 10 to 14 feet or more, and riders use an elongated paddle to propel themselves and their boards through the water. You’ll see SUP fanatics emerging these days on practically any type of body of water—from the ocean at North Carolina beaches, to the sounds of the Intercoastal Waterway, as well as inland rivers and lakes.
Greg told me that he found himself drawn to the sport—and contemplating a business supporting it, for multiple reasons. “First, it’s fun. You get out on the water, in our typically beautiful weather here, and it’s just exhilarating. Second, it’s a highly social activity—I was first exposed to the sport after my wife bought a joint lesson for the two of us. I was hooked immediately. It’s a great sport that crosses age and gender lines, so that practically anyone of any strength and skill level can do it and learn to do it well. Third, it’s incredible for fitness. I discovered it right after a period where I had been carrying a bit of excess weight and was dealing with some nagging knee pain. Wanting to get really fit again, I couldn’t even think about running or other high-impact sports without agonizing after an hour of effort, but SUP gave me the cardiovascular benefit I was looking for without the pain that had been preventing me from reaching my fitness potential through other forms of exercise,” he said.
While many SUP businesses at the beach and here in the Triangle are driven primarily by retail sales and equipment rentals, Greg is taking a slightly different approach with Inland Shores. As the son of two educators, he says that teaching others the thrill of the sport, along with its many built-in fitness benefits and appropriate safety measures, are most important for his company while stand up paddleboarding is still in its infancy: “Five years ago, practically no one in this area would have even heard of stand up paddleboarding, unless they’d been to Hawaii, southern California or parts of Florida,” he told me. “So it’s very important that we teach people correctly now, creating a bigger market for the sport here in the Triangle, as we focus on technique, fitness, and safety. We need to build the sport around fun and fitness, while also equipping people to effectively take care of themselves in the water.”
Greg has received instructor certifications through the World Stand Up Paddleboard Association’s Academy of SUP Instruction (WSUPA ASI), as well as the World Paddle Association (WPA) and a fitness-focused outfit called PaddleFit, headquartered in Coronado, California.
Greg says that while the sport is most known as a beach-side activity, SUP is getting a lot of traction here in the Triangle’s flatwater environments. “At the beach, and even on the Intercoastal Waterway, you’re dealing with waves and tidal currents that make SUP more difficult and dangerous for even quite experienced people, in certain conditions. Here in the Triangle, at places like Falls Lake, while we still deal with wind, the water’s not trying to take you down, and that makes SUP very appealing to paddlers of all skill levels, from the beginner looking for a simple, outdoor recreational pursuit all the way up to the high-level, competitive endurance athlete looking for cross-training activities.” he noted. “I tell my students that SUP can be as relaxing or strenuous an activity as you want it to be. You get out of it what you put into it. It’s incredibly versatile.”
With the educational focus of Inland Shores front-and-center, Greg is taking out small groups of up to six people at the Falls Dam location on Falls Lake, with customers paying for beginner-level instructions, where they learn proper stances and paddle strokes, one-to-one coaching for those wishing to become more proficient paddlers, along with guided tours. Think of the tour as an alternative to a rental, but with a certified SUP instructor transporting and lugging all the gear and accompanying your group. He provides all the necessary equipment for the classes: stand up paddleboard, leash (for tethering the rider to the board), adjustable-length paddle and PFD (life vest), etc. Greg has partnered with Riviera Paddlesurf of San Clemente, California, a leading manufacturer of boards, paddles and SUP accessories, as his exclusive provider this year. As a Riviera dealer, Greg can also match you up with the appropriate board and paddle combination from Riviera’s diverse catalog if you find that you’re ready to purchase your own SUP gear.
For the remainder of the Triangle’s warm weather months (through October), Greg will be taking groups out for instruction and tours of Falls Lake every Saturday and Sunday, weather-permitting. To schedule a lesson or outing, you can reach Inland Shores on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/InlandPaddle, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The company Facebook page has multiple photo galleries of each instructional group and tour outing, so that newcomers can better understand the sport.
As the company and stand up paddleboarding continue to grow here in the Triangle, Greg sees a few avenues to advance his business interests, including a logical retail extension and additional half-day or full-day offerings for local businesses interested in new and exciting activities to add to their corporate team-building off-site agendas. For now, the focus will remain instructional, with more immediate plans to add fitness classes that take advantage of the natural surroundings at Falls Lake, with exercise routines featuring both on-land and water-based activities.
We are excited to partner with Inland Shores Paddleboard Company and are proud to have them as a client of the Forrest Firm.