Written by Emily Ballard | Photos by Anthony Harden
ED. NOTE: Stay tuned for our exclusive “60 Seconds at Play” video with Kyle Ellison, coming next week to this space.
Kyle Ellison wanted to transplant his lifelong passion for coastal water pursuits to the lakes and rivers of Western North Carolina, and a stand up paddleboard maverick was born.
The French Broad River winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains, flowing through Western North Carolina and Tennessee counties, enhancing national forests in its path, and making its way through downtown Asheville. This particular stretch of the river looks slightly different than the rest of its natural habitat, especially in the heat of summer, as it is occupied by locals, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts itching to enjoy both relaxation and adventure by way of tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and the newest addition to the world of river watersports, stand up paddleboarding (SUP).
While the emergence of SUP as a popular sport really hit its stride in the early 2000s, it is just now starting to make its mark as an activity to be enjoyed on the rivers and lakes of mountain towns like Asheville. Kyle Ellison witnessed the exponential growth of the SUP culture at its source in Hawaii, and feeling that he missed a real opportunity to capitalize on this activity that he is so passionate about in its early days, he is bringing his knowledge and experience to a town that welcomes new adventures via his business, Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours. Wai Mauna translates as “fresh water in the mountains” from Hawaiian. The pronunciation of Wai Mauna is (phonetically), “Y” (as in the letter) and then “Mao” (as in the Chinese leader) and then “nuh”… so: Y-Mao-nuh.
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