Owner, Old Naples Surf Shop
Though originally from Manchester, England, Sharda Spahr moved to Naples with her family back in 1972. In 2011, recognizing an expanding younger demographic in Southwest Florida, she acquired Old Naples Surf Shop (oldnaplessurfshop.com) and expanded its offerings for surfers. “I wanted to run a local institution and bring it back to its roots, then build on that concept,” says Spahr. Located three blocks from the Naples Pier, the shop is known for its variety of surf, skim and stand-up paddleboards, as well as gear, and beach fashion. It also rent boards and a team of instructors offer paddleboard lessons, skimboard clinics, fitness classes, and eco-tours. Here, Spahr offers tips for board sports enthusiasts.
For those just getting started in board sports, Spahr suggests skimboarding or stand-up paddleboarding. Choose a lightweight board fit to your size and designed for West Coast wave conditions, such as Florida-brand Zap for skimboards and stable Bounce or Erie paddleboards. And your heart is set on surfing at the outset, try a foam-top board, like those from Catch Surf. “They’re super light, very stable, and they’re not going to break,” Spahr says. “They’re also thick so you have the buoyancy, and great for the waves on our coast, making it an ideal board for a young or beginner surfer.”
FOR WEEKEND WARRIORS…
For those looking to reach the next level, Spahr recommends pro models from Zap or Exile for skimboards, and more advanced Bounce or Erie paddleboards. For surfers, go with a classic longboard, or boards in fun shapes ranging from eight to nine feet long, but most importantly it should fit your size, ability, and your goals —whether that’s fitness, competition, or recreation, according to Spahr.
CALLING LOCAL BOARDERS
When you’re ready to show off your skills, consider registering for the fifth annual 13th Avenue South Skim Jam. Set for October 21 and hosted by Spahr and her shop, this annual sports competition is open to all ages and abilities, and will feature trophies and prizes for the top three finishers along with games and giveaways. “The event has grown from 20 participants the first year to over 60 in just a few short years,” Spahr says.