Wind, waves and shoreline. Benicia has these in abundance, plus a business that gives people a unique way to enjoy them. Through Benicia Kite and Paddle Sports, people of all ages enjoy the city’s waterfront and Carquinez Strait while also getting some exercise.
Business owner Chris Gatewood said stand up paddle boarding is gaining in popularity and also helping put Benicia on the map for water sport enthusiasts. Benicia Kite and Paddle Sports also offers lessons, equipment rental and gear sales for those who like to kite surf, sea kayak, and paraglide and other water sports.
A big benefit for Gatewood is doing what he enjoys in a place he loves. He pursued his dream of opening up his own business in 2008 while still working in a corporate job. Then, in 2012 he quit his job for good to devote all his time to his business. “I’ve been on the water all my life. It’s something that makes me tick. Whether it’s paddling or just being with friends, I feel blessed to be out there. I’m glad to be teaching people and showing them what I enjoy. Being on the water has a calming effect. It reminds me how good life truly is,” Gatewood said.
Stand up paddle boarding is one big draw and Gatewood is eager to share it with people. Under a full harvest moon earlier this year, he organized an evening group paddle along Benicia’s waterfront. Some 34 people joined in making for a magical site.
Stroll along Benicia’s waterfront and you might spot Gatewood and his truck at West 12st Park, the Benicia Marina or other waterfront spots. Since he left his First Street retail space due to high rents, he has taken his business directly to the water. He also maintains an office in the Benicia Industrial Park.
While some sports come and go, stand up paddle boarding is here to stay, enthusiasts say. Just how long it has been around is anyone’s guess. People have probably been standing on boards and paddling through water since prehistoric times, according to an article in Stand Up Journal, devoted to the sport. Fisherman in boats and gondoliers in Venice also use the same techniques. Years later, it was the Hawaiians who perfected the art of stand up paddle surfing for fun, relaxation and sport.
Those interested in trying stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing or other water sports are encouraged to contact Chris Gatewood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-304-2200. More information is also available at www.kitenaked.com.