CARNELIAN BAY, Calif. — Looking to get out on the water this summer? Always wanted to try a new sport? Stop by Waterman's Landing in Carnelian Bay, where Ronnie, Jay and Anik can help you explore Lake Tahoe.
Founded just one year ago, Waterman's Landing is quickly becoming the go-to spot for various paddleboard sports in North Tahoe. Founders and partners, Jay and Anik Wild, along with Ronnie Ayres, are all expert stand-up paddleboarders, hoping to help the sport grow. What was once a dream for the trio has now become a thriving reality.
The Wilds, along with Ayres, all worked in Truckee, with the Wilds running an Apex Bungy trampoline and Ayres managing a restaurant. Soon, they were talking about opening up a paddleboard sports store along with a cafe.
“We would always be like ‘Wouldn't it be great if we could join forces?'” Ayres said. “With my food and beverage knowledge and (Jay's) retail desire, (we thought it would be) great if it was all under the same roof.
“It seemed unattainable that something like that would exist. Not only in the world, but here in Tahoe, Ayres continued. “(We thought) if it was on the water we could really make an impact with getting people on the water and exposed and involved with paddleboard sports.”
The shop and cafe has done just that.
Waterman's Landing offers stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons, along with kayaks and outrigger canoes. Rentals are available by the hour or day, with each rental including a beginner lesson, to help those who are paddling for the first time to learn the strokes and safety tips.
The shop also features a cafe, offering breakfast and lunch plates, along with a newly acquired liquor license, allowing patrons to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer.
“(We have) breakfast, lunch, ice cream for the kids, activities on the water and now beer and wine for happy hour. There's something for everyone, and in such a beautiful spot,” Ayres said.
The outrigger canoe, a boat used for sea travel by Polynesian people, is one of the most unique rentals the shop offers. Waterman's has several different canoes that it rents out to customers and outrigger teams, from nearby Sunnyside and Donner Lake Outrigger Club. The shop rents one- and two-man outrigger canoes, as well as a large six-man canoe.
“It's really unique to see on the lake,” Ayres said of the canoes. “Those boats have all the Hawaiian culture attached to it, so when you're getting people into the sport, you're also educating them on where it came from.”
Ayres, who lived in Hawaii for many years, has been in Tahoe for the past three and a half years, and is happy to get others involved with outrigger canoes.
Waterman's Landing has helped to further establish Lake Tahoe as a must-see area for paddlers.
“It's on (paddleboarder's) bucket list as something they need to do once. (Tahoe is) a real big deal in the sport,” Ayres explained.
Standing on a paddleboard, 5 to 6 feet above the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, one can see nearly 70 feet below the surface of the water on a still day. This makes paddlers feel as if they are standing on the water, Ayres added.
“You can very much get the sensation that you're floating on air,” he said. “You can see your shadow cruising along the bottom.”
Ayres pointed out that paddleboarding is becoming an increasingly popular sport around Lake Tahoe as well as the world. In fact, Mr. Wild helped that cause when he was on the US Stand-Up Paddleboard team, and competed in the World Championships in Peru in February. Wild was the only non-costal resident on the team, solidifying that someone not from the ocean can compete at a world class level.
“It was a real eye-opener for Tahoe and for the rest of the world to say ‘Wow, Lake Tahoe produced someone for the US team in a sport that's completely dominated by ocean athletes,” Ayres said.
The group has made an impact with the paddleboard community both young and old. Waterman's Landing now hosts kids camps, for youngsters starting at age 8, as a way to get children involved in a new sport. The shop also has helped sponsor SUP races, most noticeably the Waterman's Sunscreen Paddle for Humanity, a national race series that has five other stops nationwide. Waterman's Landing hosted this event, which was also a fundraiser, to help give back for the local community.
The shop's success alone through the past year can be considered giving back to the community. What was once a dead space, occupied by a failed business, is now a thriving store and access point to the lake, as well as a reason to spend time in beautiful Carnelian Bay.
While visiting the shop in early July, one couple from Carmel explained that Waterman's Landing is one of the reasons they purchased property in Carnelian Bay.
“(Waterman's) was a defining thing for us to buy a house here,” they said. “We love it, and that's why we're here — to keep funding it and make sure it doesn't go away.”
For more information about Waterman's Landing, go to www.watermanslanding.com.