Shop Talk: Jupiter Paddleboarding

Jupiter, located along Florida's southeast coast, is a crossroads in more ways than one. Historically, Jupiter comprised the north end of the Celestial Railroad, a narrow-gage line that spanned the uplands between inland steamship routes along the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Worth. From the aquatic standpoint, it's where the Loxahatchee River connects to the Atlantic Ocean and intersects the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Florida's old spine roads – U.S. Highway 1, Dixie Highway and A1A – run through town. Through the years, these water routes and roadways have attracted and delivered many locals-in-the-making.

John and Bari Denney. Photo: Jeff Biege

John and Bari Denney. Photo: Jeff Biege

John and Bari Denney arrived in Jupiter from Hawaii five years ago, with their two young children and a collection of standup paddleboards. During their 12 years in Maui, the Denneys were friends and neighbors of Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, and John was part of the "Strapped Crew" of watermen who pioneered tow-in surfing, kiteboarding and standup paddling. John worked on Laird's films, Step into Liquid and Riding Giants, as well as the James Bond movie Die Another Day, and was featured riding Jaws in the documentary Ride the Wild Surf.

In 2007, when John and Bari decided it was time for a change, they started looking for a good place to raise their children. "We had watched kiting explode and when SUP started, we knew it was going to be a popular sport," John said. "We knew all the people on Maui who were part of the sport and figured we could be the first to bring the sport to the east coast."
They bought "a shipping container full" of standup paddleboards from local Hawaiian shapers, and met up with the boards in New England, where they rented an RV and trailer, then set out on an SUP-introduction-and-sales east coast odyssey. Starting in Montauk, New York, they rolled south, stopping at surf shops and outdoor centers until they arrived in Jupiter. They launched Jupiter Paddleboarding, providing demos, giving lessons and selling boards.

Jeremy Green had arrived in Jupiter in 2002 from Miami, on a slightly different mission. He was "a hard core windsurfer" who came to teach environmental education classes and simultaneously opened The Kite Shop, focused on the emerging sport of kite surfing. He juggled three jobs until he started a family and decided to focus on his growing business. Jeremy and John's paths intersected when they met through kite surfing, and the Denney's started selling standup boards out of Jeremy's shop.

Jeremy had been selling some SUPs, but John and Bari introduced a wide variety of quality products, including specialty surf, racing, fishing and inflatable boards, and opened up SUP to a willing audience of watersport crossovers and newcomers. Together they ran Jupiter's first SUP race, and Bari taught the east coast's first SUP yoga classes, while the shop built a standing inventory of over 100 boards from multiple manufacturers.

The Kite Shop and Jupiter Paddleboarding offer SUP tours, surf lessons and periodic all-day demos where participants can paddle multiple race boards and other SUPs. They offer an ever-growing selection of boards and accessories by NSP, YOLO, BIC, Jimmy Lewis, Cabrinha, Surftech, Walden, C4, Bark, Tahoe, and Rusty boards, plus ULI, C4, YOLO inflatables and YOLO and Alex Aguera Fishing SUPs. The shop's most popular brand for surfers and racers has been Jimmy Lewis and the top-selling accessories: Quickblade paddles.

Popular areas for flat water paddling in Jupiter include the Intracoastal Waterway north of the inlet, where clear water floods in over seagrass beds on every tide and sandbars emerge at low tide. You can also find flatwater on the lower portions of the Loxahatchee River where the three forks converge over sandbars and oyster reefs, as well as the placid waters of Sawfish Bay, southwest of the confluence of the Intracoastal and the river.
Paddling up the wild and scenic Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee from Jonathan Dickinson Park, just north of Jupiter, provides a real Florida experience on tannic water flowing along cypress-lined banks. SUPs have entered the surf lineup at spots from Jupiter Inlet south to the Juno pier, where ocean conditions range seasonally from dead flat during the summer to overhead hurricane-induced swells.

Jeremy catching a nice one, compliments of Hurricane Sandy. Photo: Jeff Biege

Jeremy catching a nice one, compliments of Hurricane Sandy. Photo: Jeff Biege

The Denneys have watched standup paddling continue to grow in popularity and believe "the industry will keep growing with the quality brands coming to the top." With the growth the couple has seen, John believes "SUP will become a mainstream fitness option."
Jeremy reports that "more and more people are paddling the flat water areas around Jupiter" and "the wave ride scene continues to grow with many local contests. The Eastern Surfing Association has recently opened up to SUP surfing, so we expect more growth there. The Florida race scene is strong with annual events all across the state. The future is bright for SUP!"
The crossroads of life are never static, and Jupiter is a great place for exploration and adventure, so the SUP scene keeps evolving. The journey continues. --Tom Fucigna Jr.

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