Happy New Year!
As we close out 2015, we always like to reflect back on the season to evaluate how far we’ve come in our mission to grow surfski paddling and community across the Great Lakes region and stay true to our ethos and tagline: be present, be challenged, be unique.
Overall 2015 was a great
The big focus for the 2015 season was all about launching the inaugural Paddle Relay and along with it, the first-of-a-kind roto-molded Epic V7. During the winter of 2015 we poured a tremendous amount of energy and every bit of free time into preparation for this original summer long event to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of the Lower Michigan Shoreline as well as to raise money for some awesome charities working tirelessly to protect it.
The Paddle Relay launched as planned on June 1st and got off to a great start. We could not have asked for better weather at the start which then seemed to carry through the entire summer. Keeping the event safe was our number one priority and in that respect, Mother Nature really helped us out and we were 100% successful.
As the Relay got going we quickly realized what an ambitious initiative it was. Thankfully we had a great team of captains and volunteers who really poured a tremendous amount of their time and energy helping us to ensure it was a successful event. We also received a lot of great media support and promotion from around the state for which we are extremely thankful.
In the end, the collective effort raised just over $50,000 dollars for some amazing charities and managed to drive some great publicity for paddling in Michigan. Unfortunately we haven’t seen too many relay paddlers convert to surfski paddlers yet, but we am optimistic that it will happen with time.
The relay was a tremendous learning experience for both myself and my business partner James Dagg. While we had all the right intentions, I believe the Relay became a bit too much for a first year undertaking. More details to come, but for 2016 the Paddle Relay will continue with paddle events across the state, but not with the mission of covering every square inch of Lower Michigan Coastline.
The 2015 Immersion Camp was a raving success and we absolutely plan to build on that momentum making the 2016 Immersion Camp bigger and better than ever and likely adding a Fall Immersion as well. Additionally, we are planning to schedule some smaller 1/2 day clinics throughout the summer. With so many new surfski paddlers across the midwest, there is tremendous demand for learning, education and community. The Immersion Camp is by far the greatest opportunity to immerse yourself and in just four days, accelerate your learning by 3-4 years.
The introduction of the V7 has made surfski rentals feasible and with the addition of the Epic V5 to the lineup in 2016 we plan to significantly ramp up our rental program. At 14 feet, indestructible, and with stability on par with a recreational kayak, the V5 will be the ultimate introduction to surfski. We are convinced that strong rental progreams will be key to growing the surfski market, just as they were for SUP. Look for more details on our rental program to be updated on our website in the coming months.
We are currently on the look out for rental partners now, so if you know anyone who currently rents SUPs or Kayaks and may be interested in carrying a surfski or two, please don’t hesitate to send them our way.
Accessories and our On-Line Store
We continue to add more products to the on-line store and have recently moved to FREE 2-3 day shipping on all orders over $100.
We have sold the Mocke PFD for a couple years now, and toward the end of the season we had the opportunity to expand our line to include several more of the Mocke products. The Mocke brothers are building some amazing gear and I’m really excited to be able to offer their line to US surfski paddlers.
Vaikobi continues to drive amazing innovation, style, and function with all of their products and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be one of their primary distributors in the US. We absolutely love padding in our premium quality and uber stylish Vaikobi gear and hope to continue expanding our stock selection in 2016
The late arrival of the V7 made for a tough year of boat sales. For various reasons we didn’t see a lot of demand for composite boats this year which ultimately made for a tough season financially. That said, we absolutely believe that Epic Surfskis and Kayaks are the undisputed best boats on the market, bar none. While other manufacturers have come out with new designs and features, the 2nd Generation Epic Surfskis still remain the ultimate craft, and as the numbers show, the Epic GT is clearly in a league all to its own.
Public Demo Days
We fully understand that customers need a chance to paddle the boats before making a decision to buy. To that end, in addition to rentals, we will be scheduling public demo days throughout the summer. These will provide an opportunity to try the boats with no commitment to buy.
Great Lakes Surfski Race Series
With all of our bandwidth consumed in the Paddle Relay, the Race Series definitely went neglected this year. We plan to correct that for 2016 and make the series bigger, better, and more fun than ever. Along those lines we’re working on a points tracking concept that would allow for beginner and expert classes. We want to fully encourage all the beginner paddlers to come out and race and feel they can be competitive in a welcoming, challenging, and competitive environment.
More to come on the race series through the winter, but among other things we’re getting really excited about the weekend of June 25-26th where Race TC is organizing a fun filled day of all things paddle related, based out of Suttons Bay. The event will be named the “45th Parallel Paddle Fest” and the feature event will be a 3 mile round trip group paddle out to the 45th Parallel. Around that we plan to organize lots of different family and spectator friendly racing and water challenges. On Sunday, TC SURFSKI is partnering with Pro Paddle USA out of Hayward WI to introduce the “Molokai of the Midwest”. This will be an 18 mile open water downwind crossing of the Manitou Channel from South Manitou to Leland Beach. Stay tuned for more details on this.
TC SURFSKI Ambassadors
This past summer Jeremy Vore of the Art of Paddling, signed on as an Epic Expert and TC SURFSKI ambassador to help grow the surfski community in Marquette, MI. We are looking to add more TC SURFSKI brand ambassadors across the midwest. As the number of surfski paddlers across the Great Lakes continues to grow, our goal is to help get these paddlers educated and make sure they have opportunities to get involved in local surfski communities and races. We understand not everyone will want to race, but no one likes to paddle alone, so at a very minimum we’d like to see paddling clubs start to form and help to nurture continued growth, camaraderie, and fun. Stay tuned for more details on this initiative and don’t hesitate to contact us if you think it is something you might want to be involved in.
Epic Kayaks Joe Glickman Dealer Award
It was truly an honor this year to receive the “First Annual Glicker Award”. The award was presented at the Epic Dealer Conference in honor of the late Joe Glickman, to the dealer doing the most to promote the sport of surfski paddling for fitness and fun. Joe’s talent and passion for writing and telling the stories of surfski paddling and its characters, was truly a massive blessing to the sport. He brought the sport of surfski paddling to life and repeatedly put smiles on the faces of paddlers all over the world. While I can’t pretend to be anywhere near the caliber of writer that Joe was, I am honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to spread the surfski love and passion to the extent that I can and am thankful for all of the loyal customers who recognize these tremendous efforts and continue to support TC SURFSKI.
In 2016 we plan to continue carrying on the spirit of Joe Glickman and filling the void left by his departure. No doubt if we succeed with our current plans he will be smiling down upon us and enjoying what we bring to the surfski community in 2016.
2015 was another great year for surfski paddling in the Great Lakes. It was the warmest summer we’ve had in a few years, and based on winter so far, we’re optimistic that this warm cycle will carry forward into 2016 and we’ll see another long and enjoyable season. As we drive more and more surfski exposure across the Midwest and the US in general, there is no doubt that both paddlers and non-paddlers alike will “see the light” and join the surfski community.
We wish to express many thanks and sincere gratitude to all of our great customers across the country who have supported us over the past four years. As anyone in the industry knows, very few, if any, have figured out how to make money selling surfskis. While it is a huge time commitment, and at times a very stressful balancing act to keep the business alive, we remain extremely optimistic and passionate about the sport of surfski paddling. We couldn’t do any of this without all of you and in return we promise to deliver some really exciting content, ideas, and motivation to ensure you stay present, challenged, and unique in 2016!
Happy New Year!
The Team at TC SURFSKI
P.S Don’t hesitate to provide us your feedback. We want to make sure we are listening to you. Let us know what we are doing well and what we aren’t doing well or what you would like to see more of, less of, etc.. … don’t be shy!