BRIAN MEYER

AGE: 31

SUP Magazine - - Frontside -

Cap­i­tal SUP An­napo­lis co-founder Brian Meyer is an archetype of the homage, “Do what you love, love what you do.” In 2014, the elite racer fled the cor­po­rate world to build Mary­land’s pre­mier SUP shop with his two business part­ners. Since then, Cap­i­tal SUP been the back­bone of the area’s boom­ing pad­dling scene. We got him on the phone to dis­cuss giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, fol­low­ing his pas­sion and what the fu­ture holds for the sport. – MM

I went to col­lege at Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii. I told my par­ents I was go­ing for school but I re­ally went to surf. After a few years there I wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent. One day I went down to a lo­cal out­rig­ger ca­noe club, jumped in a boat and was hooked. Within a year I raced on a six-man team from Molokai to Oahu.

I was adopted as a new­born and after col­lege I reached out to my birth par­ents. They live in Mary­land, so I de­cided to move there and get to know them. At the time, standup rac­ing was just be­com­ing a thing in An­napo­lis, and there wasn’t an out­rig­ger club so I got a board, started pad­dling and got to know a lot of the lo­cal pad­dlers.

After a year-and-a-half of work­ing a cor­po­rate job I de­cided I was go­ing to quit and open a pad­dle­board shop. Cap­i­tal SUP An­napo­lis started mostly out of pas­sion for the sport and the pur­suit of de­sign­ing my own sched­ule. We got the business started with less than $20,000 while my two business part­ners and I still had full-time jobs. Our main fo­cus is pro­vid­ing pad­dling ex­pe­ri­ences. We do standup pad­dle dance classes, yoga, race train­ing, LED night tours and more. We went from putting 3,000 peo­ple on the water in the first sum­mer to over 8,000 a sum­mer within a cou­ple years.

We’ve done a lot of work to cre­ate a ro­bust safety pro­gram for our business, but there are still peo­ple who come SUP with­out tak­ing proper pre­cau­tions. We need to con­tinue ed­u­cat­ing pad­dlers and the mar­itime com­mu­nity about both safety and what standup re­ally is. A lot of peo­ple still have no idea.

From day one we’ve made a point to give back to the com­mu­nity, and in Jan­uary of last year we started a non-profit called Live Water that gets veter­ans on the water. One of the first guys on the team was Cody Irons, a 24-year-old who lost both his arms while on ac­tive duty. We got him out­fit­ted with a spe­cial pad­dle and brought him out to the Pa­cific Pad­dle Games last year. We also do a lot to help clean up our lo­cal water­ways. We find that by cre­at­ing con­nec­tions to the water we in­spire peo­ple to want to help.

I used to race a lot. I got pretty good, pretty quick and was able to com­pete on an elite level. Trav­el­ing and com­pet­ing took a lot of time but it helped us mar­ket our train­ing pro­gram. As Cap­i­tal SUP has grown my rac­ing has taken a back seat, but we’ve de­vel­oped sev­eral pad­dlers that are go­ing to make big state­ments in the com­ing sea­son.

Last win­ter I took on a role with the In­ter­na­tional Pad­dle League (IPL). The IPL isn’t a new idea. There are great events es­tab­lished all over the world and in­stead of cre­at­ing new events, we’re con­nect­ing them. Our goals are to grow the sport and pro­vide ad­di­tional me­dia for ath­letes and brands. The in­dus­try has had some grow­ing pains; we’re just trying to steer it in the right di­rec­tion.

There’s so much water in this world that SUP is bound to stay pop­u­lar and keep grow­ing. Ob­vi­ously get­ting SUP into the Olympics will help, but even with­out that I think SUP will con­tinue grow­ing. We’re still in the child­hood phase of the life cy­cle.

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