August 10, 2013 - 11:25 AM
KELOWNA - Barry Planedin is a pretty relaxed guy for running one of the busiest shops in the city.
As the owner of Okanagan Beach Rentals at Rotary Park, Planedin is in his element working in Kelowna's mecca for watersports.
“We're so laid back in how we conduct everything. We're not too particular about keeping stats on everything,” he says.
In the thick of the summer season Planedin's shop is keeping beach goers busy on the water with kayaks, pedal boats, aqua bikes, inflatables and “SUPS” otherwise known as stand up paddle boards, a sport gaining huge traction in B.C.
“Probably 2010 was the year its popularity went through the roof stateside and in 2011 it kind of spread into Canada,” he says.
So what's behind the craze?
“It's a sport that most people can do,” Planedin says. Almost anyone can stand-up paddle board, with minimal instruction, regardless of age, size or skill level.
“Most people can get on the board and in a short time have a good experience paddling,” he says. An encouraging feat for his more skeptical clientele.
The board invites a range of experiences on the water - if a cardio pumping “sprint” is not your thing.
“You could just simply lay on your board and sunbathe,” Planedin says, or kneel for a more relaxing zen-like paddle.
As for sharing the lake with power boats and jet skis, it's just like the rules of the road.
“It's no different than when you're standing on a street corner,” waiting to cross the street, Planedin says. Be a defensive paddle boarder and look both ways.
It's a safe bet more boarders will be flocking to the shores of Okanagan Lake in the coming years. Planedin has seen firsthand the flourish of recreational activty on Kelowna's beaches. Leaving behind a career in publishing, he and his wife bought their first shop in 2007 just a few blocks down Lakeshore Road at Gyro beach.
“It was virtually the only one in town, and it was very small scale operation with a few old pieces of equipment that included some of these campy paddle bikes,” he says.
What started as a pet project, meant to provide a summer job for his son, rapidly evolved into a full-fledged operation.
“We both found ourselves suddenly immersed in this thing, every year it got bigger and bigger,” he says.
By 2010 they opened three locations, including their current shop at Sonoka Beach. But ultimately Planedin was vying for a spot on Rotary Beach, which “for decades has been known as the drop in spot for kayakers and outriggers,” he says. Realizing the need for more human-powered recreation, it wasn't long before the city granted his wish.
“We're doing this for fun, for our health, for the business side of it, its a real rewarding occupation,” he says.
His laidback character is something he imparts with his two young staff Davy Chelini and Quinn Krahn, or who he calls his “beachbums.”
“I got to remind them that this is job - you gotta work,” he jokes.
Tips for the novice paddle boarder:
1. Keep your distance. If you fall off you don't want to land on somebody.
2. Paddle the shores. Don't go out into the middle of the lake. It's not that exciting and it's not very scenic.
3. Let the water break your fall.
Boards between twelve and ten feet are rented to clients depending on their height.
(JULIE WHITTET /InfoTel Multimedia)
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013