Aloha Stand Up Paddle
694 N. Coast Hwy 101
Leucadia, CA 92024
 (760) 213-4133

When my daughter was 8 years old I took her surfing. We were at about 29th street in Del Mar, sitting just outside the break taking a rest when some dolphins came by on the way to La Jolla. As I was watching these playful mammals swim by I was pointing out to her that they were there and weren’t they cool and check them out… and then I turned to look at her to see that she wasn’t listening – she was already about 100 yards away paddling straight out to sea to join them!

I was reminded of this story as I spoke to Tom English, owner of Leucadia’s Aloha Stand Up Paddle.

The paddle board phenomenon began about 10 years or so ago here in the area with people like Rick Thomas and soon after, Scott Bass and Tom English. As the sport developed, a few in the area began fashioning boards and refining their paddling techniques… and training for greater excellence in what is now a developing sport. Tom told me that aside from riding the swells, his training on the board is always with the goal of “keeping up with the dolphins”.

Tom English graduated from San Diego State with a degree in finance in 1986 and moved into the Financial Services industry shortly thereafter. For 25 years his “day job” was rewarding and provided him with a good living, but like many of us he had a greater passion. He’d rather wear a wetsuit than a dry one with a tie. The rise of this new sport provided him with the opportunity to pursue that passion and share it with others. As Tom began to see the need for someone to fill a gap in a new and burgeoning area of water activity, he converted a motor home into a mobile surf shop and began to offer services and advice to those who needed it.

Aloha Stand Up Paddle opened its doors here in Leucadia in 2011 and provides the A to Z of the sport of Stand Up Paddling: supplies, knowledge, lessons, gear and support. Tom’s intimate knowledge of the sport allows him to tailor equipment to would-be paddlers and he is continually delighted that people from all walks of life, even those who think they are ‘uncoordinated’, can pick up the sport. When they master the basics of paddling and realize they can do it, a freedom comes and a new light in their eyes provides a great reward to one who is able to impart his passion to new potential paddlers. A joyful statement on his website warns: “CAUTION, WEIGHT LOSS MAY OCCUR”.

English’s name has become associated with expertise when the sport of Stand Up Paddle is mentioned. He has even moved into the arena of education at Mira Costa College, teaching an extremely popular class that has students learning the sport over a semester. Tom and his dog Elvis can be seen at Agua Hedionda Lagoon (yes folks, the name does actually mean “stinky water”) leading his charges through the basics of calm water paddling before he takes them out into the swells to experience what he calls the most addictive sport ever.

And what about those dolphins? In trying to get Tom (a very humble man who is reluctant to talk about himself) to tell me some cool stories about his experience in the sport and in his business, he finally related that one of his favorite stories was the time he caught the dolphin school passing by Swami’s and was able to paddle with them all the way to La Jolla shores. A magical experience, Tom never gets tired of training to “get back into school” with his friends in the ocean.

I didn’t think to ask him how he got back from La Jolla that day…

-Randall Hasson for Leucadia 101