Boaters in Tellico Village may have noticed an increasing number of kayakers and paddle boarders on the water this summer, and it’s a trend that isn’t likely to slow any time soon.
Kayak and paddle board reservations have been steady throughout the season, Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association recreation director, said.
“We have several classes on the kayaks and one is a yoga 101 and the other is SUP (stand-up paddle board) workout,” Bradbury said. “Those are instructor led, and the deal is people can come out, go online and reserve them and they come on out and we’ve been slammed, we’ve been packed with the classes.”
Steve Harscher serves as a kayak and paddle board instructor and has noticed growing demand over the last two years for both recreational activities.
“The turnout’s been pretty good and, as far as numbers, some days are booked and some days aren’t, but we get a good number coming out,” Harscher said. “Like Thursday morning, I had six boats out, a couple of paddle boards. It’s coming along but when it first started it was a little slow, but now more people are getting into it. When Simon opened it up for everyday use, everybody jumped on it, so it’s a good thing.”
Instructors and classes are available to assist novices.
“If somebody needs basic instruction, I can help them out,” Harscher said. “We teach them how to safely board the boat, how to safely get off the boat. Once you’re out there, if there’s any issues with the boat and making sure that they have the knowledge they need to get back in the boat. If the boat tips over, how to get back in or how to get back on the board and things like that. We have some other classes that are going on out here.”
Jean Clesen serves as a fundamental paddle board instructor but also hosts SUP Fitness, which is a popular class that combines paddle boarding and cardio.
“They’re typically full and the people like it,” Bradbury said. “They want to be active here and we’re a lakefront community, and as the recreation director I’m wanting to take it to the next level. We started four years ago with paddle boards and kayaks, and now we’ve got seven days a week with staff down here and have got all kinds of classes.”
The new paddle sports home base at Tugaloo Pavilion has been an additional benefit to provide kayak/paddle board rentals and ensure the safety of those using the beach.
“It’s gone great because it’s 90% residents that come in here and 10% not, and we’ve done our study and have done our due diligence and then some to find out what we need to find out,” Bradbury said. “What they do when they’re here, they’re monitoring the behavior. If there’s someone acting inappropriate, we’ve got staff here that can address it and handle appropriately. It provides a level of safety for us and the families here as well, and they’re typically here during the day.”
Harscher believes paddle sports will boom next year.
“I’ve seen an uptick and it’s becoming more popular,” he said. “It’s late in the summer now, but next summer I think is going to really explode with it. I was talking to Simon about trying to open it up a little more for the kids, too, and the younger folks because the boats that we have are a little hard for them to maneuver. I think next summer now that everybody knows, it’s going to explode and it’s going to be a big deal.”