Meghan Fisher from Fayetteville, West Virginia, took her passion for the outdoors and watersports and turned it into her career. Fisher is an ACA Level 1 and 2 Stand Up Paddle Instructor and Instructor Trainer Candidate. She decided to start her own business, Mountain Surf Paddle Sports with two main goals in mind: to make Stand Up Paddleboarding more professional in the area and promote an active, outdoor lifestyle through Stand Up Paddleboarding.
She wanted there to be a paddleboard company in West Virginia that gave quality instruction so people could learn to efficiently, confidently and safely paddleboard; so she made that happen. She has also found a way to make paddleboarding a year-round gig, by working with Quark Expeditions in the winter months leading paddleboarding trips in Antarctica.
Fisher talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about her adventures in this business and the insight on what is to come.
Tell us a little bit about the trips you take.
“Every winter I work with Quark Expedition. Basically, I am a guide on their ships, they do small adventure cruises. We leave out of Argentina and then we sail across the Drake passage into the Antarctic Peninsula. I will live on the ship for three to four months and we just go back and forth every 10 to 20 days. You work every day, but it’s so much fun and it’s beautiful.”
“Once we get down in Antartica we do daily excursions, so typically we do two excursions a day. We are outside for most of the day and if the weather is not perfect, we go out on zodiac. That is like inflatable little boats with a hard bottom and a motor. So I will lead zodiac cruises and we will go check out icebergs, then we will go to land and check out penguin colonies. The paddleboarding there is spectacular! We are all in dry suits so if you fall in its okay, you don’t get wet. We bundle up really warm underneath it and we can go check out penguins and you can see penguins swimming underneath your paddleboard.”
What is the thing you’re most excited about for your organization?
“This year we started a race in West Virginia called The Almost Heaven Paddle Battle and it was on Summersville Lake. It wasn’t just for paddleboards, it was for kayaks and canoes, any sort of paddle craft could enter. It turned out to be this huge success and we had 81 people register for it. It was a very competitive race and it was a mix of locals and out of town guests, we had six different states represented in the race,” said Fisher. “People came as far as upstate New York to come down and go to this race. That was the first year we did it so I think it will only grow from there.”
“We had a three-mile, six-mile and twelve-mile. It was a different distance to suit everybody,” said Fisher.
“The second thing I am really excited about is that I am an ACA instructor trainer candidate. So that means that I am in this process of working towards being able to certify others to be a Certified Stand-Up Paddle Board Instructor. My last course is in October so hopefully, after October I will be able to do that and what I would really like to see is all the companies in the area get on board with having trained staff to do their paddleboarding.”
Do you have two tips about Paddleboarding?
“Know where you are going. You want to start out with success, so you want to go to someplace that is going to be above your head. Start out easy, start out in flat water. Wind is a big issue so know the environment. If it’s a really windy day it’s going to be hard. The other thing is to make sure you are on a quality board. I know there is a lot of cheap boards you can get at Walmart, Dick’s, Dunham’s and those might be good for your 10-year-old kid but it usually is not sufficient for an adult and it is going to make your experience a lot harder.”
What was your worst business moment?
“My worst business moment would probably be the year I was in business. The permitting to do trips and tours is kind of a lengthy process and my first summer that I started out I didn’t have the permits yet so I could only do rentals. I was setting up a trailer and a tent at the Lawn Point Bar and Grill by Summersville Lake and sitting there all day trying to rent boards. I started to pick up a lot of business and I was doing really good and every hot day I’m like I am going to rent so many boards today, it’s really hot. I remember this on weekend specifically it was like 90 degrees and beautiful. I was super pumped and not one came.”
PWV QUICK BITS
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Daily Planner Book
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “As you get going don’t take things to personal,” advised Fisher. “Don’t forget about the community, be really active in the community. “The more you can be a part of the community the more your business can grow.”