OCEAN CITY — Nature lovers, fitness enthusiasts and athletes will all find something worthwhile at Walk On Water in West Ocean City.
Specializing in Standup Paddle Boarding (SUP), Walk On Water has expanded its operation this summer through a partnership with K-Coast Surf Shop. Additionally, it has added outrigger canoe runs for those looking for an East Coast take on a Hawaiian classic.
Well established on the shore with their retail location off Route 611, Walk On Water owners Ron Gossard, Sandy Deeley and Beth Deeley crossed over into Ocean City this spring when they partnered up with K-Coast on 35th Street to put paddle boards into the larger resort store.
“We’ve been friends with the owners of K-Coast ever since they opened [25 years ago] so we’ve grown up with those guys in the community,” said Sandy Deeley. “And we both saw an opportunity, since they weren’t really experts in standup paddling, to help grow that business.”
Over the past few years, SUP has made a splash in the watersports community. Gossard and the Deeleys have watched the movement grow locally and have worked to make their locations a one-stop-shop for paddle boarding.
“We do demos and lessons and clinics and stuff like that. We try to be that all-around shop where we can help people fit to the right board that they need,” said Gossard. “Instead of just trying to sell them a board, we try to get them on something that they’re comfortable with.”
Paddleboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes and various boards fit different experience levels. Entry level boards tend to be long and wide and are much easier to balance on than something like a surfboard. This makes SUP accessible for beginners who may have no other watersport familiarity. Paddleboards can also be used in other activities besides the quintessential stand and paddle. They have a lot of fitness applications and Walk On Water offers courses that take advantage of that.
“And we also offer classes and lessons in yoga, paddle fit, which is a combination of land and water-based training,” said Beth Deeley.
Classes, rentals and demos are a big part of what helps Walk On Water stand out from the crowd. Group paddles and renting a board before a purchase is highly recommended. While the trio love to see people buying their first board, Gossard pointed out that it’s a major purchase so everyone needs to feel completely comfortable before they commit to a board.
Luckily, no matter which location you visit someone will always be around to help a customer try out a board. Part of the appeal of paddle boarding is that it can be done in any kind of water, making demos quick and easy given Worcester County’s easy access to bay, ocean and creeks.
“It’s really critical that people demo what they buy in this sport because they’re all very, very different so that 10-foot, 6-incher will float you entirely different than that 11-foot board that’s on the other wall,” said Sandy Deeley.
Apart from accessibility and the immediate gratification of being able to stand on the board the first time out on the water, SUP is rapidly gaining popularity because of unexpected depth, according to Gossard. Once you’ve mastered the basic stand and paddle, there’s racing, downwind runs, several mile long river treks and taking the boards to the ocean and beating the chop. SUP has both a gentle learning curve and a high-skill cap, making it a perfect entry level watersport or a nice break for a life-long surfer.
In addition to paddleboards, Walk On Water will also be doing outrigger canoe trips this summer. The massive boats seat six people and can handle pretty much any water condition. Teene Froiseth, a retired lifeguard captain from Hawaii, has been hired by Walk On Water as a canoe guru and guide and will be running the trips.
“He’s got a lot of water experience and comes from a really famous surfing family there,” Sandy Deeley said of Froiseth.
For more information, call 410-289-8787 or visit www.walkonwatersupco.com or like its Facebook page.