(Bastrop, Texas) – Lee Harle was tired of just talking about his hopes and dreams, so he decided to do something about it. He quit his full-time job in the banking industry and jumped into his new professional adventure with both feet…literally.
In 2012, Harle traded in his suit and tie for some board shorts and flip flops, launching the Bastrop River Company in an up-and-coming community on the east side of Austin. It's a story that is becoming more and more common: Professional leaves the daily 9-to-5 grind and chases their life-long dream. But no matter how many times the story is told, it never loses its romanticism. It's a story of hope and optimism, especially for those people who feel "stuck" in the "real world." Harle's story is no different, but it also has an element of inspiration, because he's on a mission to make his new home in Bastrop "the fastest growing SUP destination in Texas."
"Bastrop has an unappreciated gem in the Colorado River," Harle said. "I want people to celebrate the river and all its potential adventures." While Harle's river company rents tubes and kayaks, he has become a huge advocate for standup paddling. "There is nothing like experiencing the Colorado River on the deck of a SUP board," Harle explained. "Standup paddleboarding is the fastest growing sport in the world, and we want to help introduce people to it and make Bastrop the best place to SUP in Texas."
To help Harle's vision for paddle boarding in Bastrop, he is organizing The SUP Cup, a 2-day event that puts the sport in the spotlight. The event, which is scheduled for Aug. 16-17, has turned into more than a SUP event, though. "We have created a festival-like event with vendors, kid-friendly activities and a concert," Harle said. "We want to familiarize people with SUP, but our main goal remains celebrating the river."
The SUP Cup will be highlighted by three paddle boarding events - a sprint race, a 6-mile down river race and an obstacle challenge. There are divisions for hard-core paddlers and "weekend warriors," alike. There is prize money for the overall champion of The SUP Cup.
"You don't have to be the fastest paddler in the world to compete," Harle said. "We will have some world-class paddlers in the competitive division, but first-time paddlers can compete in the recreational division. It's all about getting in the river and having fun."
For more information, visit: BastropSUPCup.com