Easier than surfing, this beginner-friendly paddle sport feels like walking on water.
Writer: Mary Katherine Stump
1 of 5Photo: Colleen Duffley
A Fresh Idea
Inspired by an article they read on stand-up paddle boarding—a hybrid of surfing and canoeing—friends Jeff Archer of Destin, FL, and Tom Losee of nearby Santa Rosa Beach decided to give it a try. The sport was easy and relaxing—like walking on water. Before they knew it, they'd launched their own line of paddle boards called YOLO, which stands for "you only live once."
2 of 5Photo: Colleen Duffley
How It Works
YOLO's chic, colorful boards have larger-than-surfboard dimensions, so they are stable enough to support a standing rider. YOLO-ing strengthens core muscles, such as the abdominals and lower back, but the experience is so calming that is doesn't feel like work. Unlike surfing, YOLO-ing can be mastered in one outing because it doesn't require the strength and dexterity needed to catch a wave. "All it takes is passion for enjoying the water," Jeff says.
3 of 5Photo: Colleen Duffley
What We Love About It
Jeff and Tom's acronym isn't just a label; it's a lifestyle. For the increasing number of YOLO boarders across the country, "You Only Live Once" means making the most of simple pleasures that so often come with life on the coast. "The first time I went out on a board, I paddled by a school of dolphins trying to teach their babies how to feed," says Jeff. "My heard was beating a million miles an hour. I felt like the guy from Wild Kingdom!"
4 of 5Photo: Colleen Duffley
Choose Your YOLO
From left to right Express: The smaller board's increased maneuverability makes it ideal for riding waves and for people with smaller frames.
Original: Designed for conditions ranging from glassy to choppy, the Original board is great for novices and experienced riders.
Yak: The additional stability of this hybrid stand-up paddleboard and kayak makes it suitable for fishing, crabbing, and transporting picnic supplies strapped in under the bungee cords across the front.
Explorer: This extra-long board, known as the "cat daddy" of the YOLO fleet, is perfect for tandem paddling and is outfitted with bamboo inlay on top.
5 of 5Photo: Colleen Duffley
Test-Drive a YOLO Board
To rent a YOLO board near you, check out these locations.
Baytowne Marina (in partnership with Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Florida; 850/622-5760 or sandestin.com