6 Years In, Looking Back and Forwards

Soposup has been around for 6 years now. Thats a good chunk of time. I am happy to reflect and say with confidence that I am as into now as I was when I first opened the doors. Casco Bay and the beaches and rocks of Maine's coast from Saco to Georgetown are now all familiar places to me. I am enriched by my association with these places, as I am by every moment I spend on the water. I don't think I would be happy living somewhere that wasn't affected by the tides.

Something I didn't expect when I started this venture was that I would enjoy dealing with customers as much as I have. My first instinct when a new person walks through the door isn't "how can I make money off that person". It is "how can I make that person happy?". A good customer interaction is as satisfying as a great paddle around Cushings island, or a screaming downwind run to Two Lights, or a beautiful, walling up head-high left at Higgins beach. I have had the good fortune to help a lot of people get into this sport. In fact, if you stacked all the boards we have sold on top of a car parked in front of Portland's Eastland Hotel, the stack would be 3 times higher than the hotel itself. Which brings me to my next point.

As I get older, and at least partly through the shop, more connected with the local community, I have become increasingly concerned with environmental issues affecting our world. I have reached a point in my life where I feel a strong need to do something. On a private level, there are of course many things a person can do, things most of you probably already do without thinking; recycling, switching to reusable shopping bags, minimizing waste, making your home more energy efficient, etc. So I'm trying to do that. But going back to that giant stack of styrofoam and fiberglass paddle boards that is now over 3 times the height of the Eastland Hotel. Thats represents a significant environmental impact; materials, packaging, shipping, and ultimately, waste. So how can Soposup mitigate that impact?

Well, there are a couple of things that we are going to do for 2017 that I think will help. First, we are making a strong commitment to only carry high quality products. Higher quality materials and construction means that board is going to be around longer, i.e., less waste, less packaging (of a replacement), less shipping (of a replacement). Although you might pay $100 more for a better board, its going to last you a couple years longer also, and in the end you will save money (as well as the world!).
Another thing we will be doing is challenging our brands to be more earth friendly. I was recently at the Starboard World Dealer meeting in SanDiego and was blown away by how serious they are about switching to more environmentally sound manufacturing practices, their commitment to have zero plastic in their packaging, and support of a huge range of environmental initiatives directly related to the oceans and waterways on which their products are used. Throughout the season, we will seek to highlight the efforts our brands are making to lesson their impact as well as improve the health of our environment.

Part of buying a product that will last a long time is having a product that is inherently strong, but just as important is a product that can be easily repaired should it ever become damaged. Fiberglass/epoxy construction is not as tough as plastic (such as LLBean's Bic boards), but it has a great advantage over almost any other material: it can be repaired back to original strength easily and economically. Although we don't do ding repair at the shop, I am very happy to teach people how to do those repairs themselves. Starting in April, we will hold a free bi-monthly ding repair workshop where anyone can come and watch a variety of basic techniques that will allow you to keep your board watertight and looking good for years.

Lastly, I would like to use our Summer Race Series as a vehicle for building environmental awareness and affecting environmental rehabilitation. I have reached out to many of our veteran racers and have gotten a lot of very useful feedback on this issue. I have heard from quite a few racers that although they are sympathetic towards environmental issues, they come to the race series to race and have a good time. The primary goal of the Casco Bay Race Series will always be to promote safe, competitive and FUN paddling. I am now working on ways to honor the original spirit of the races while taking advantage of any opportunities the race series offers towards addressing appropriate environmental concerns. I hope to have concrete news to share on this front in the near future.

On a personal level, I like change. I am always looking for ways for the business the grow and mature, for new opportunities, for an interesting and compelling path to follow. Six years later, I have a pretty good idea what Soposup is and what it isn't, and I am happy with that. Our strength is in the trust of our customers. It is a humbling gift, and I hope to be able to honor it for another six years.


Raf, Owner of Soposup

Surf Report

updated 02/25/2018 8:04pm

1.3 ft @ 11 sec from SE

NNW (Offshore) @ 9 mph


Race Number 5 (10.5 miles)
Sunday, July 2nd 8am


Winter Hours:
By Appointment

  382 Cottage Rd.
  South Portland, ME 04106