Western Kentucky is awash in opportunities for aqua fun. A myriad of rivers and lakes draw outdoor enthusiasts from near and far to make a splash in the summer sun. The question is, how do you enjoy the water—skim, float, or dive right in?
After a trip to Jamaica, Chad and D'Che Beyer knew exactly what they wanted to do once they got home—bring stand-up paddle boarding back to the Paducah area.
"We tried it in Jamaica and just loved it!" says D'Che. "We love the water and wanted to do it here as well. Chad, being the entrepreneur, said, 'Let's buy some for ourselves and get extras to rent out.' It's become our hobby and baby."
Stand-up paddle boarding requires three basic items: a paddle board, a paddle, and a personal flotation device. As the name denotes, the user stands on the board, paddling themselves across the water's surface. It is the closest thing to actually walking on the water.
"It's addictive," adds Chad. "You want to do it again and again. And by offering instruction and guided tours, we get to spend time with people as they learn instead of just putting them out there and saying, 'Good luck.'"
Now in their fourth season with Bluegrass Board Sports, Chad and D'Che are seeing the activity catch on locally. "At first, we worked with a lot of vacationers around Kentucky Lake," says Chad. "But we are seeing a transition to more locals wanting to do it. I'd like to see a community aspect develop as we move forward. We've seen that in other places."
Chad and D'Che are confident that the sport will take hold in Western Kentucky considering the wealth of resources. "Kentucky Lake alone has over 2,000 miles of shoreline," says Chad. "There is a lifetime of paddling there. It's something people of all ages can do together, and you experience things you couldn't experience otherwise. We've gone back among cypress trees in the water and been in places that even a boat can't go. You see something different every time, and you never get bored."
"Our local resources are amazing," adds D'Che. "And we have places beyond the lakes. There's the river. We'd like to see more of that. It is a little more of a challenge, but once someone learns it, it's very doable. There's so much variation in this sport. You can work out or just cruise, relax, and sightsee."
Chad and D'Che use every opportunity to bring paddle boarding to the public. Last year, they partnered with True North Yoga to do paddle board lessons, and a variation they are currently exploring is paddle board fishing. There are also opportunities to get competitive with races. This fall, Chad will participate in the ChattaJack, a thirty-one mile race through the Tennessee River Gorge.
While the Beyers enjoy the varying aspects of paddle boarding, it's working with people they find most rewarding. "It's about seeing people succeed and enjoy themselves," says Chad. "Last season, we worked with a lady who had cerebral palsy. It took a while just to stand up on the board. But to see her will and ability to push through that and make it is rewarding. That's neat stuff!"
"Most think that you have to be fit or have certain abilities to try it," adds D'Che, "but everyone can learn and enjoy it. We've paddled with people of all ages, from four to seventy-six. It blesses us to teach and watch people succeed. We know what it feels like to nearly walk on the water, and we love seeing others experience that."