by MARY FOPPIANO
Vincent Shay is from San Luis Obispo and Emily Shay is from Los Osos. They now live in San Luis Bay Estates with their multi-terrier dog Frankie who loves to dig at the beach, hike, and paddleboard. In 2010, they started Avila Beach Paddlesports in the Port San Luis Harbor area and specialized in kayak and standup paddleboard tours, lessons, and rentals. In 2020, they expanded, adding the Mermaid Market to their already established Paddlesport company, where they sell local photography, gifts, coffee, and many other retail items.
Vince and Emily founded their company because of their love of paddling, surfing, education, and being on the ocean. Emily has been a surfer for most of her life, as well as a passionate educator who is currently teaching at the Grizzly Youth Academy. Her love for wildlife is second to none, and she is always ready to help a hurt bird or animal. Vince said that she is really the glue that holds their companies together and the brains behind the operations.
Vince is not only a surfer but an accomplished paddler who was on the United States Surf Kayak Team from 2001-2005 and considered to be one of the best paddlers in the world from 2001-2015. In 2003, he designed some of the best kayaks, which are still sold and used in all parts of the world. In addition, he is an award-winning photographer, some of which are well-known on the Central Coast for capturing images of local sea otters and humpback whales.
Avila Beach Paddlesports is going into its 12th season, for which they are very excited. A new program that they are working on is called the ‘Coastal Wildlife Docent Program-Avila Beach.’ They will be training volunteers to educate the public on the water via kayak or SUP about the local wildlife as well as proper viewing guidelines when paddling in the water at Avila Beach. They believe this program will be a great addition to their successful rental program at Avila Beach Paddlesports and is a real community effort.
They have worked very hard to create a family-friendly, fun, and safe atmosphere at both of their companies and are very proud of what they have accomplished. Vince and Emily are just two local Central Coast people who started their company from nothing with only eight kayaks and five paddleboards to become one of the largest, most successful paddlesport companies on the Central Coast. They were able to do this because of their passion for what they were doing as well as the support of the Harbor Commissioners, Harbor Staff, and our local community in addition to the awesome team members they employ every year. Vince and Emily consider themselves to be pretty private, but they truly love our community. For more information, check out their websites:
AvilaBeachPaddlesports.com or VincentShayPhotography.com.