St. Pete Surf Shop Opens Paddle Board Showroom

For those bored with the current water sports scene, St. Pete has something new to offer.

The Reno Beach Surf Shop welcomes Stand Up Fitness' Kahuna Kai Paddle Boards to its location at 1031 4th Street N.

Stand Up Fitness owner Brody Welte says he expanded his operations from locations at Tampa Bay beaches to the 4th Street location because it made more business sense.

"Being on the beach was positive because it was on the beach," philosophizes Welte. "And it was a negative because it was on the beach. The beach is a transient population, so they weren't willing to buy. We still have a storefront there, but we wanted to move the actual retail piece to the 4th Street location. And we have seen our sales jump considerably."

So what is stand up paddle boarding? See a photo slideshow by Julie Busch, managing photographer at 83 Degrees.

"It's actually a fairly ancient sport that got rediscovered 10 years ago," Welte explains. "People started to realize it wasn't just a surfing sport. You can fish off a paddle board, just like you do off a kayak or a canoe. When people see it, they think it's difficult, but I would say it's no harder than kayaking. I've taken senior citizens, kids and one time I even took a blind man out on the water, and there was really no problem with them doing it."

Welte says he learned paddle boarding from Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama when he was living in Hawaii. He moved here in February 2009 after realizing the business opportunities the Tampa Bay area had to offer his beloved sport.

"The number one reason I chose this area is that after experiencing paddling on the West Coast," Welte explains. " I think this area will be the number one hub for paddling very soon. The water is warmer here than in California. And this area has an Intercoastal and bays as well as the gulf. It's exponentially easier to surf on calm water here than over there. And paddle boarding has exploded out there."

His enterprise offers eco-tours, waterway tours, lessons and merchandise. He was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year honor in 2009 from the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce's Young Professionals. Welte offers lessons through the Kahuna Kai Adventure Center at the Clearwater Sailing Center for those who'd like to experience it for themselves.

Writer:  Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Brody Welte, Stand Up Fitness & Kahuna Kai Paddle and Beach Shop
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