There’s a new sport taking over the Boat.
In Steamboat, we are all about the thrill of sport and there is a new sport that’s been captivating us in recent years. Stand up paddle boarding on both rivers and lakes have become a new summer favorite. It’s not uncommon while strolling the Yampa to see paddle boarders riding the rapids or surfing in Charlie’s Hole. During the annual Yampa River Festival the paddle boarders have been stealing the show with their daring ability to take on even the most extreme rapids. A sport that is designed for both experts and beginners it’s no wonder Steamboat has adopted it so quickly. We even have paddleboard yoga!
As a town, Steamboat has as much entrepreneurial spirit as it does daring athleticism and it wasn’t long before a local paddle board company was born. Kieran O’Halloran started KPOD stand-up paddle boards with a desire to build a high-quality board at a price point that makes the sport more inclusive.
How long have you lived in Steamboat?
I was born and raised in Steamboat and have lived here for 34 years. The only time I have lived anywhere else was for college in Boulder, Colorado. My parents moved here in the 70’s, trading the beach for the mountains.
What makes Steamboat the perfect place to live? What are some things you enjoy doing here?
I am slightly biased towards Steamboat, but I love the winters. Skiing is a huge part of my life, and always will be. I have two boys, 3 years and 11 months, and it’s been a blast teaching my oldest how to ski. I also love to fly fish and of course paddle boarding. Fishing from a paddle board is amazing and has really opened up a lot of flatwater fishing to me.
How did you get into paddle boarding?
I rented a board from Backdoor Sports and have been hooked ever since. That naturally progressed into running whitewater and creating my own boards.
Tell us about your company and your product:
This is my 3rd year doing KPOD (Kieran Patrick O’Halloran Design) and it’s been a blast using my creativity to design boards. I have boards ranging from river surf boards to big lake boards for fishing or yoga. All my boards use a fusion drop stitch, a material used to create high pressure paddle boards, construction that helps lower weight, take out human error in construction, and creates a much cleaner constructed board. Boards for the river tend to be in the 8’ to 11’ range in length, 32” to 34” in width and 5” to 6” thick. The wider, thicker, shorter boards are very stable and maneuver much easier on the river which is key when you want to ferry across the river or to eddy out.
For the lake, longer 11’+ boards that are narrower, track much better than the river boards and are in turn faster. Every KPOD board is inflatable for ease of storage and they also come with a rolling backpack, fins, pump and repair kit.
What made you want to start your company in the Yampa Valley?
I am based out of Yampa, Colorado and it’s a great central location between the Yampa River and the Colorado River. When the Yampa river water level drops, the Colorado has flows into the fall. State Bridge area is an amazing playground for anything water related as well and it’s just an hour outside of Steamboat!
What features make the design of your boards ideal?
I think my river running board (KPOD Yampa) is a perfect shape for running whitewater. Its widest point is just forward of the standing area which helps get the board through and over larger river features but also helps in stability. The narrower tail makes moving around rocks, holes, trees, and any other river obstacles much easier. Also, the right amount of tip and tail rocker (similar to a powder ski) is a huge design factor for whitewater boards and helps keep the board from nose diving. I have heard from many clients the KPOD Yampa makes the river much easier and not as intimidating.
The KPOD Crosho is kind of the crossover board, that is great on flat water as the fastest board in the fleet and is really fun on the river when you need speed.
The KPOD Stagecoach is the big dog in the fleet and is the perfect barge for fishing and is equally good for paddle board yoga.
What are some other key factors about your boards?
Price! The entire reason I started this company was to get my price point lower than similar boards on the market. Boards are expensive and it’s hard for the river rats, families, or anyone for that matter to justify the cost. I always tell people I am not doing this to make money, I still have a 40+ hour a week job, I did it to get as many people on the water as possible. Paddle boarding is for everyone and is an amazing sport that is great for the body and can be done anywhere there is water.
Where are your favorite places to paddle?
The Yampa River, Colorado River, Flattops, and I love getting on new rivers or lakes. There is always something new to see and the experiences are priceless.
For beginner paddle boarders do you have any suggestions?
Take a class especially for whitewater/river paddle boarding. I highly recommend Paddleboard Adventure Company located right down the road from Freshies on Lincoln Avenue.
Having the right gear is also very important. Weather can change on a lake and the river has a lot of dangers. Taking a swift water rescue class is something I would recommend to anyone who is getting into whitewater paddle boarding.
Any suggestions for people that want to try going down the river versus lakes? What are the benefits of both?
Lakes are the perfect place to learn how to paddle board and to get comfortable with balance and learning how to paddle. The river adds current and rapids which makes balance much harder but is also super rewarding when you can stick a rapid or wave train. The beauty of the river is if you get nervous you can always go to your knees or sit down. This makes the rapid or river feature less scary and gets you used to running white water without always swimming. BUT you will swim on the river! Getting used to swimming and knowing how to swim in the swift water environment will help it become a lifelong passion.
What about tips for caring for your board?
Inflatable boards can get holes in them like anything that has air sealed inside them. Keeping an inflated board out of direct sun is a must. Air expands when warmed and this can cause the board to fail. I tend to keep my boards inflated all season and just strap them to the roof of my car or throw them into the back of my truck when I’m ready to go. I always let out some pressure at take-out and will inflate right before I put back on water.
For more information on KPOD stand-up paddleboards please visit their website.