Standup Guy: Top Beginner Schools

2 Stand Up Guys, San Diego, California

As a kid growing up in Maryland, Matthew Poth plastered his bedroom walls with scenes from the ocean: marine biology, surfers and crashing waves. "I thought being able to stand on water would be the coolest thing," he says. Perhaps this hardwired compulsion explains why Poth's first encounter with standup paddling was such a revelation, so many years later.

Poth came west in 2008 to visit his brother, who was recovering from knee replacement surgery. He signed up for a SUP lesson at San Diego's La Jolla Shores—an experience that left him blown away. "I kind of lost my mind," laughs Poth, 40. "I've tried kayaking and scuba, but with SUP it's that feeling of elevation. I still can't get over it. It's the coolest thing in the world."

Photo Courtesy of  Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

A burning passion for SUP convinced Poth to permanently relocate to San Diego. In 2009, he and business partner Ryan Judson, a professional surfer, launched a mobile SUP school called 2 Standup Guys. They volunteered their time for six months "to get our game down" and then registered for the very first Academy of Surfing (ASI) SUP Instructors' course "to gauge our skills."

"The most consistent thing was enthusiasm," recalls Poth. "Between the students and instructors, everyone was just so stoked on all sides of it. It felt like the sky was the limit."
While Judson recently pulled out of the partnership, Poth is sinking the business' roots. He's committed to a full fleet of fiberglass boards and full-carbon paddles, and strives to keep instructor to student ratios at a low one-to-four. After years of "running around" with a trailer, he found a perfect base on the sheltered water of Carlsbad Lagoon.

Poth says his favorite students share his enthusiasm. "The best people come with no athletic baggage," says Poth. "SUP is a completely different from other sports and a great equalizer. Those who think they're going to stink pick it up right away." He's fiercely proud of students like Yvonne Chavez, who came to 2 Standup Guys as a first-timer and just won her age class at the 2014 Battle of the Paddle in Dana Point. "She never stops," says Poth. "She lives by it."

–Conor Mihell

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