By Halley Harrell
When Morgan’s Point Resort announced the opening of a new kayak trail at Belton Lake, people of all ages were delighted.
For those who own boats and kayaks, the trail offers a new designated waterway to explore.
But for those lacking aquatic transportation, visiting the kayak trail is much like looking through the window of a candy store. In the past, Belton Lake had little to offer in the local rental market.
Enter Troy and Nancy Davis.
A couple hailing mostly from Georgetown, Troy and Nancy put the final touches on Waterside Sports, a kayak and paddleboard business that will soon cater to local lake lovers.
“We’re debating whether to purchase a building or build one. We’ve been doing a lot of research and stuff,” Troy said. “We do want to be in Morgan’s Point. We’ve had a lot of help from the city.”
Though the original plan was to rent kayaks, the Davis’ realized they had more to offer.
During a two year stay in Costa Rica, they discovered the art of paddleboarding, the latest craze in recreational sports.
“When we came back, we owned a condo here in Morgan’s Point,” Nancy said. “We were sitting out having coffee one day and I said to my husband, ‘You know, this lake is perfect to paddleboard because it’s so calm.’”
They decided that the Morgan’s Point marina would be the perfect place to start a paddleboarding business.
“When we made the decision to do this, we hadn’t even bought our own boards yet,” Nancy said. “We got our boards, and after we got ours, our neighbors got boards. Everybody would stop us and ask us about it. Since then, we’ve seen people coming to the lake with paddleboards.”
As the Davis’ began looking for equipment, they did not find anything that met the need. Their solution was to work with a manufacturer to produce and distribute their own board company, Bambu Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP).
“We’re specializing in the bamboo, and the reason why is that they’re better quality and also a lot prettier,” Troy said. “One thing we’re doing differently is tri-fin so it’s a little more diversified. You can (paddle) out in the ocean.”
Paddleboards vary in size based on their purpose – for example, boards for racing or boards for beginners. Waterside Sports will feature six different styles and sizes, as well as kayaks. Guests may rent on an hourly or daily basis with prices ranging from $10 – $45. Through Bambu SUP, guests will be able to purchase paddleboards of their own.
“The first investment is expensive. You can get a used board for $500, and you can get new ones all the way up to $1700,” Troy said. “It’s just like scuba diving. You buy your gear, you’re spending $2 – $3,000. But once it’s done, you’re set.”
For those seeking adventure with less financial commitment, Waterside Sports will offer yearly memberships in the future.
Excitement for a rental shop on Belton Lake is already growing. The Davis’ have been surprised by the amount of positive feedback and support for their business.
“It’s amazing. Our website hasn’t even started yet, but I think we have like 10 of them sold,” Troy said. “What’s interesting, too, is it’s not just young ones. Adults too are like, ‘man, let me know when those come in, I want to get some of them!’”
While paddleboarding is popular in Waco and Austin, Waterside Sports will be the first local business.
“I know they have a kayak rental place at Stillhouse Hollow, but nobody else does the paddleboards,” Nancy said. “It’s growing like crazy, and it’s really interesting because it’s getting really popular in the lakes, more so than in the ocean.”
Once the first shipment arrives, the Davis’ have big plans for Waterside Sports. Future goals include paddling lessons, summer camps, a disabled-access dock, lake clean ups and fundraisers for local police and fire departments. Fitness classes are also on the agenda, though paddleboarding alone is a great workout.
“A lot of people don’t realize, especially for ones who are disabled that aren’t able to go to the gym like they used to be able to … just 30 to 45 minutes on the paddleboards is the equivalent to running six miles because it isolates your core,” Troy said.
The Davis’ hope to have Waterside Sports up and running by the middle of September. The next step is to launch the website where guests can schedule appointments for kayak and paddleboard trips. When next summer rolls around, Waterside Sports hopes to have a large enough staff to accept walk-ins.
“We’re really hoping to get everybody out there because it’s such a great sport,” Nancy said. “It’ll be nice to have more paddlers on the lake.”