Early Beginnings

Wai Nani Surf & Paddle was created out of the passion, enjoyment and escape that one can experience on a Stand Up Paddleboard.

During the winter of 2009, in Florida, Co-Founder Stachia Fey organized a paddle with eleven members of her family (ages 3 to 70) to explore the Banana River near Coco Beach. The memorable experience lasted 2 1/2 hours. Young manatee swam right under the boards, stingrays glided through the water and the splendor of Mother Nature was alive and pulsating. Stachia’s 3 year old son fell asleep while she paddled sitting down, lunch was brought in a cooler and eaten next to the mangroves. It was like no other experience.

She was convinced her close Minnesota friends had to buy boards so they could play together on the abundance of beautiful waters our Midwest region has to offer. Holly Evans and Christine Thompson, both avid Lake Minnetonka sailors and passionate water enthusiasts, researched the sport and in a few weeks, we all had stand up paddle boards and paddles of our own.

At our inaugural board party celebration in April 2010, Wai Nani Surf & Paddle was created. The group loved the idea of beautiful water and wanted to pay tribute to paddleboarding’s Polynesian origin. Wai Nani, pronounced why-na-nee, means “beautiful water” in Hawaiian.

Our vision is to bring like minded people together to experience the stoke of SUP.

Photo: Stachia and Christine unwrapping Wai Nani’s very first shipment of stand up paddleboards in 2010.

Holly EvansOwner/Co-Founder, Wai Nani Surf & Paddle
Water Baby, Modern Mom, Adventure Seeking Extrovert

While immersed in a professional career in Corporate Marketing and Advertising Sales, Holly was first introduced to Stand Up Paddleboarding in 2009. As an avid watersport and recreation enthusiast, she found an immediate connection to SUP and could not wait to share her newfound passion with others.

Holly loves to spend her time with family and friends. She is a Lake Minnetonka area resident, wife, mother of two young children and enjoys all things outdoors (including on the ice and snow!) Holly currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the national Stand Up Paddleboard Industry Association (SUPIA) based out of Dana Point, California as well as a Parks and Trails Board Member for the City of Wayzata located on the northern shores of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota. She is most passionate about creating opportunities for others, young and old, to be active and engaged with the beautiful outdoors especially how it relates to “Community.”

Holly is also a WPA (World Paddle Association) Certified Instructor. The WPA Certification provides world-class water safety and stand up paddle instruction designed to educate and help teach paddlers at every level how to have a fun and safe experience on the water.

Our Commitment to the Industry

Wai Nani Surf & Paddle is also the First Official Minnesota Member of the Stand Up Paddleboard Industry Association (SUPIA). SUPIA was founded to serve the stand up paddle industry for the betterment of the sport and the community as a whole. Wai Nani Surf & Paddle is not just a passive member, we are active participants within the association working with national and global SUP leaders to help shape the future of this emerging sport. To learn more about SUPIA, please visit www.supindustry.org.

Wai Nani Surf & Paddle Owner/Operator, Holly Evans, serves on the SUPIA National Board of Directors (appointed in 2015) and continues to maintain a leadership role now as SUPIA’s Vice President and Executive Committee Member (appointed in 2016.)

History of SUP

Stand Up Paddle Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Stand Up Paddling, or ‘SUP’ for short is a popular water sport where a paddle is used while standing up on a surfboard. SUP has a Hawaiian heritage and translates in Hawaiian to Ku Hoe He’e Nalu: to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave. Stand Up Paddleboarding came about as a way for surf instructors to manage their classes of beginner surfers. The higher view point offered by the SUP style made it easier for the instructors to see what was going on around them and check for incoming swells. The instructors used their regular surf boards and added a single blade paddle.

The popularity of the modern sport of Stand Up Paddle Surfing also has its origins in the Hawaiian islands. In the early 1960s the ‘Beach Boys of Waikiki’ would paddle out on their long boards with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. The term ‘Beach Boy Surfing’, another name for SUP Surfing, came from this.

Rick Thomas is credited as being the first modern surfer to bring Stand Up Paddleboarding to the mainland. In 2000, Rick introduced California to the new sport of SUP Surfing as an alternative way to train while the surf was down. Stand Up Paddling has since become huge in the States as well as Europe.

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