On a grey and gusty Friday afternoon, the scene inside the Blueline shop was sunny and inviting. Two small children played on the floor with their family dogs among the racks of SUP boards and apparel. Their father, shop owner Adam Whittington, and a handful of locals were gathered around Hawaiian waterman Dave Kalama, who was in town to run a paddle clinic. Kalama observed that, "Blueline is like a throwback-type surf shop, where everyone is passionate about the sport. It's a perfect recipe for a good old-fashioned shop where you can get what you need, or just hang out and talk paddling." Let's do. —Tom Fucigna
SUP mag: What brought you here?
Whittington: I was a commercial pilot for an international charter/military contract company. Name an obscure country and I have probably been there. I met my wife Katy in Vero Beach, where she had opened a small boutique. Katy went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and has always been in the retail fashion industry. As we got closer to starting a family, I decided to ground my feet so I could spend more time with them. We now have a daughter named Emory, who is almost four years old, and a one-year old son, Connor.
SUP mag: How did you get into SUP and why did you decide to enter the market?
Whittington: The first person I saw on a standup board was Ryan Helm, paddling along the beach in Jupiter. Ryan is now one of the fastest paddlers in the world. I got my first SUP in 2008 as a Christmas gift from my family. I think they gave me it just to shut me up. I got my second board a few months later, and the obsession started. I wanted boards that no one had. You had to order from Hawaii or California. I thought maybe I could fill that void.
SUP mag: What features of your location make it appealing?
Whittington: Our shop sits steps away from a protected oxbow off the Intracoastal Waterway were we launch our SUPs from Guanabanas waterfront restaurant. The great thing about Jupiter is that you can paddle year-round. We have Caribbean blue water with vast amounts of marine life and the water temperature rarely goes below 70 degrees. We are situated between the Intracoastal, Jupiter Inlet and the Loxahatchee River, with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean along the shores of Jupiter, Juno Beach and Jupiter Island. The Intracoastal and the river offer calm areas to paddle, or you can SUP surf on the beach. Guanabanas provides a perfect place to end your paddle with lunch, dinner or a cocktail.
SUP mag: What gear do you sell?
Whittington: We carry boards from Boardworks, Paddle Surf Hawaii, Boga, Bote, Totora, Amundson, Naish, C4 Waterman, Riviera Paddle Surf, Naish, Imagine, Starboard, Cannibal Surf and Tom Neilson Shapes, and paddles by Quickblade, Kialoa, NP, Axe, Carbonerro and Riviera, plus Go Pro3 cameras, and accessories from Dry-PaK, Dakine and Excel. We are also a surf boutique, with the latest fashions for the whole family from Body Glove, Patagonia, Rusty, Toes on the Nose, Honey Girl, Tiare Hawaii and Free People.
SUP mag: Have any particular products been popular?
Whittington: We sell boards in all shapes and sizes for surfing, cruising and racing. It's a good mix but the most popular would be an all-around board from 10'6" to 11'6". Hybrid design boards are starting to gain popularity. Tom Neilson's Cork and Carbon boards, with carbon parabolic rails and a full-cork deck, have been selling well. On the accessories side, Handirack inflatable roof racks and waistpack PFDs have been popular.
SUP mag: What activities do your clients like?
Whittington: Our customers range from age three to 99, and include all those who love being on the water. We offer rentals, lessons and tours, plus fitness classes including YOW (Yoga on the Water), Certified Paddle Fit, Cardio Paddle, and Standup Race Training. YOW is popular and we see a lot of people giving it a try. Surfing is on the rise and SUP fishing is sparking some interest too.
SUP mag: What kind of training do your instructors have?
Whittington: Each of our instructors is certified as at least a Paddle Fit Instructor and World Paddle Association (WPA) Level 1, and some are even Level 2 Paddle Fit Certified. All of our yoga instructors are RYT certified. We have also teamed up with Boga boards and plan to become a Boga Yoga Center, so we can train and certify yoga instructors to teach safely on the water. Our lead guide, Matt Arensman, is a certified lifeguard as well an EMT from California and a team rider for Blueline and Boga.
Lululemon has named our "Director of Fun" and SUP yogi Kim Depasquale as an Ambassador. Kim and instructor Alex Cotleur are also certified Special Olympics coaches, and they plan to take a few racers down to Key West in October to compete.
SUP mag: Tell us about your race team.
Whittington: We currently have five team riders traveling the circuit and racing nationally and internationally. Mini Cunha Margareth Lagace, Mary Anne Boyer Willis (aka: Mini and Mab) and Joseph Morel have been with us over a year, and we're excited about the newest additions to Team Blueline: local teen Giorgio Gomez, and the guy who inspired all this, Ryan Helm.
Joseph will be joining the Crossing for A Cure team this summer, paddling from the Bahamas to Palm Beach to raise awareness of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, with Jesse Kautz, Kyle Igneri, Shane Pompa and Travis Suit, whose daughter Piper suffers from CF.
SUP mag: What other kinds of events do you have going on?
Whittington: Lots. We sponsor fun outings like eco-tours, sunset and full moon paddles, private charter SUP tours, and clinics with SUP pros sharing their paddle skills. Ryan Helm ran a clinic for us recently.
Kim and our Camp Director, Debi Borger, have been running weeklong SUP summer camps for kids. The first, in which we've partnered with the Village of Tequesta, focuses on Skate, Surf and SUP. Our H20 Camp features learning about the environment and water safety, teaches kids about all the aquatic habitats of Jupiter from freshwater to saltwater, and includes SUP, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, treasure hunting, arts and crafts, yoga, eco-awareness field trips and an end-of-week kitchen tour and lunch at Guanabanas. Phew.
Our socials have been very popular with over 60 people at our last full moon paddle, and over 24 in our fitness classes. We have partnered with Loggerhead Marine Center and the Loxahatchee River Center to offer eco-tours led by trained naturalists and marine biologists.
We are also all about making sure we give back. We hold numerous charity events through the year to help support the community. 30 people participated in our last "Trashy Thursday" event with Lululemon. We cleaned up over 429 pounds of trash last time, and collected more than 1,000 pounds in the previous event. We recently held a fashion show that featured over 40 models and the latest fashions, to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
This year we've combined our Blueline race series into one end-of-summer, non-point, WPA-sanctioned event to be held September 21st. It will include three-mile, six-mile, sprint and kids races, followed by a lunch celebration, with music and awesome prizes at Guanabanas. We also have a huge race on the horizon for next year- more details to come.
SUP mag: That is a lot. What else would you like our readers to know?
Whittington: Come visit and hang out with us at the shop. We would love to hear about your day on the water. You never know who you might meet there.
For more info, visit: BluelinePaddleSurf-FL.com