Kayak Amelia was one of the first Eco-Tour companies to carry Glide SUPs. They have had their original fleet of Glide SUPs for over 5 years now and continue to add to it with our more current boards. If you are curious how the boards are holding up, read on… I had the privilege of doing this interview with avid paddler, and all around awesome guy, CJ Hetchka from Kayak Amelia.
Outside view of Kayak Amelia
AJ: Can you tell the readers a little bit about Kayak Amelia and how you got into SUP?
CJ: I was introduced to SUPs around 6 years ago and fell in love! Shortly after that introduction Kayak Amelia branched out and acquired several SUPs to start guided tours and our famous "intro classes”. I have seen hundreds of guests fall in love with the sport just as I did. With this over whelming love we wanted to do more on the boards and now, besides tours and intro classes, we offer yoga and HITT on our boards. All of our guides love using the boards and they have been advantageous for expanding our kayak tours. With the different view point on the boards they have been able to carve new trails through the marsh that our kayakers can use on tours.
That's one way to play out of the water hazard, CJ.
AJ: What type of wildlife do you see paddling around Amelia Island?
CJ: There are numerous migratory bird routes that pass thru the Amelia area. It’s always impressive to see the Roseate Spoonbill, our native pink bird, feeding in the shallows among the oysters. But the best is when you ketch sight of a dolphin or manatee pondering what exactly you are doing floating in their playground and come up to investigate.
Happy paddler chillin' with a manatee.
AJ: Any tips for tourists visiting the area?
CJ: Play it safe! Know the conditions you are going to be paddling in and make sure you have proper gear and attire prior to your adventure. It is always good to connect with a local company in the area and ask about the cool places to paddle and the best times of day.
AJ: How do your view the current state of SUP? Do you feel like the popularity of SUP is still on the rise or have you seen it slow down?
CJ: I think more and more people are giving it a try. Our numbers of guest partaking in the intro classes seemed to explode last summer. And with people finding new ways to use this horizontal surface the possibilities are only limited by your balance and sense of fun!
AJ: How do you view the state of SUP in the next 3 years?
CJ: I dare say it will be as ubiquitous as kayaking! I know on our little island we have seen just as many board on top of cars as kayaks. I think everyone should try out this fun athletic sport.
Kayak Amelia crew!
AJ: What types of SUPs are your customers requesting: touring boards, all-around, river, etc? Also, do your customers request particular brands, or do you guide them toward what you feel will best fit their rental needs?
CJ: Here a Kayak Amelia we generally use the all-around boards like the cruisers. They are a great way to get people introduced to the sport and have great stability. If people want to delve deeper into the sport I do mention the myriad types of boards and brands. It comes down to the conditions they will be paddling in and what board material will best suit them.
AJ: How do our Glide SUPs do in your rental fleet?
CJ: Amazing! This boards are beyond durable. The tough outer coating makes it nearly impenetrable. There have been a few run in with oyster beds leading to only minor scratches. And all the jumping squats and 180 burpees leave them unscathed.
Inside of Kayak Amelia
AJ: What feedback do your customers give about Glide SUP?
CJ: Where can I get one? Our guests always ask. They feel calm with stability and realize how much easier it is than they thought it would be.
AJ: How does being an eco-tour company impact the environment?
CJ: We have found that eco-tourism is a must in this day and age. With our unobtrusive foray into the environment we have been able to give our guests the one on one connection with nature that will last a life time.
AJ: Do you attend any trade shows? If so, which ones and how much do they affect your buying decisions?
CJ: We have only attended a few. It’s great to get the one on one with a dealer and ask all those important questions
Stoked paddlers on a Kayak Amelia tour!
AJ: Have you heard about the new trade show, Paddlesports Retailer, debuting September 12-14, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin? If so, do you plan on attending?
CJ: No, I have not. That may be a bit too far for us to travel.
AJ: From your position, how do you view the difference between SUPs made in the USA opposed to SUPs made oversees and why? Do you think this is taken into consideration when the average consumer buys a SUP?
CJ: Here at Kayak Amelia we try and do things as ‘Green’ as possible. Included being awarded Green Business of the year from the local Chamber of Commerce. Whenever we can we try to buy local or within the USA.
AJ: What keeps the Kayak Amelia crew stoked?
CJ: Paddle Time!! We have all these cool toys to play with! And there are so many places in Florida to explore. I personally love that light bulb moment when a customer falls in love with the sport.
*For more info on Kayak Amelia please see: www.kayakamelia.com
*For more info on Glide Rental SUPs: www.glidesup.com/pages/rental
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