Daily Fitness: One Love, One Beach

(This article first appeared in the September 6, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


It’s a Tuesday afternoon as I arrive at a small beach along the Peconic River. Chris Dowling, owner of One Love Beach, an outdoor and lifestyle boutique located at 211 Main Street in Greenport, stands ready to greet me as I mentally geared up for a group paddle session. Stepping out of my car, the wind almost knocks me over and, almost in tandem, Dowling and I shake our heads. Today was not a day for me (after all, the first and last time I paddled was with the Paddle Diva crew — I needed experience before taking on these gusts). The wind couldn’t stop a good conversation though. Chris and wife are local business owners and, like most businesses on the North Fork, are tightly woven into their community.

When did you open up your shop with your wife, Blake?

We opened up the shop in June of 2013. Our jobs had us traveling a lot and we had a young child that we were constantly leaving behind. We were searching for a business idea and suddenly a fantastic space opened up and we decided to bring our lifestyle to Greenport.


Paddleboarding is considered a seasonal sport. When do you stop and when are your busiest months?

We don’t stop unless we get locked in due to ice. We paddle year-round; we change from board shorts and bikinis to wetsuits and drysuits. July and August are when we have the biggest crowds exceeding 20 paddlers on our weekly meetups.

What does your shop sell? What makes it unique?

We are kind of a boutique with a paddle boarding problem! We offer over 40 varieties of paddle boards including prone, yoga, fishing, and racing boards. That is all upstairs in the boardroom. Downstairs we have men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, sunglasses, unique jewelry, ukuleles, Yeti coolers and drink ware, and longboards. We try to mix it up a bit with unique gifts, recycled, and ethically-sourced products. There is always something new and different showing up!

Tell me about Tuesday paddles. For those who don’t almost get the wind knocked out of them.

I grew up sailing and competing in local and distance races. I always like how most yacht clubs will have a midweek sailing night to encourage people to get on their boats one evening a week. I took that model and started promoting a weekly meetup where people could show up with their boards, meet other like-minded individuals, and paddle in places they never thought to paddle before. It started with two or three of us and grew to getting over 20 people in the summer months. We switch over to Saturday morning in the winter when we lose daylight in the evenings. We try to keep it up all winter!

[Tuesday paddles are considered a community event, free to those joining with their own board. Those needing a board can buy or rent from One Love Beach. Paddles are typically followed by socializing with drinks and food at First and South]

Why do you love to paddle, what makes it your passion?

There are so many reasons why I love paddling. On the recreational side, I love the accessibility of it — the feeling of being free, away from life issues, away from the phone. Once you paddle away from the beach all of those stresses are behind you. On the racing side there are the challenges both physically and emotionally, the camaraderie, the inclusiveness. There is nothing better than driving 14 hours and showing up at a starting line with the friendliest competitors that cheer you on while you are racing against them.

Tell us your life/company motto?

Get outside! That can be read many ways. Some read it as get off the couch and do something, others as get outside of your comfort zone. Either way, if we can motivate you to do something great, we are psyched!

By this time Alexa Suess, local Greenport artisan and silversmith, arrived with her One Love board ready to paddle and break in the new gloves she’s using for upcoming competitions. Suess has been coming most Tuesdays for three years and was ready to take on the weather ahead. As the group geared to take off I returned to my car, dry, but looking forward to a fall foliage paddle.

You can learn more about One Love Beach and the One Love paddle crew at http://www.onelovebeach.com or call them at 631-333-2064.

Daily Fitness: Paddle Like a Diva

(This article first appeared in the July 12, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


It’s noon on a windy, sunless Saturday as I arrive at Shagwong Marina in Springs to meet the Paddle Diva team. After receiving an email that morning that read “We never cancel,” I should have been tipped off that I’d be in for a rough introduction to paddle boarding. It was time for SUP FUN: Tour and Fitness! Bathing suit on and sized up with my paddle and board (see the connection there?), after a brief tutorial I was aquatic where it all started.

“The inspiration for Paddle Diva came in this harbor,” Gina Bradley, founder of Paddle Diva explained. “My husband [Scott Bradley] and I had the first two paddleboards ever made on Long Island and I would load those big, huge heavy things in the back of my girl friends’ pick-up truck. I sort of taught myself and taught my friends how to paddle, because I was always the lead.”

Paddling into the wind, to avoid being taken adrift, I kept my legs steady, core tight, and arms in a continuous motion with the paddle deep in the water. It was all a rhythm. Despite the adversity of conditions I was relaxed through the help of my fellow “divas.”

Diva is the name of the board used and the name for Bradley’s company. Back in 2009 it started with only two boards while teaming up with a board maker to manufacture “divas” — those small enough for women.

During a meal at Babette’s in East Hampton, “I was like, ‘I’m going to start a business,’ and Scott was chuckling at me. ‘Women don’t belong on those boards. Those are ocean boards.’ Nobody knew how this sport was going to bang out,” remembered Bradley. But she knew better, realizing the potential for the female enthusiast if only properly built and marketed.

Initially, boards were up to 11-12 feet and would take three persons to pick it up. Bradley, a true pioneer in the sport of stand-up paddle boarding, envisioned a handle for hassle-free carry, in addition to smaller dimensions. While men typically do well on a board 11’6 – 12 feet, 32 inches wide, most women perform best on a 10’6 board between 28 to 30 inches wide.

But what’s a business without a catchy name? Scott Bradley had the answer.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you just call it Paddle Diva because with you everything is diva, parking and getting a diva table.'” Bradley admitted,

“You’re right. I live for diva parking, it’s the best parking around,” pointing to the first spot in the parking lot where her pick-up truck was.

While the activity is a great way to keep fit, it’s also an appreciation for a certain lifestyle. Bradley has a second year-round brick and mortar location for her company in Rincon, the famed tropical surfers’ paradise in Puerto Rico. Since 1998 the Bradley family — Gina, Scott and their two children — has vacationed there, and built a home. Wanting others to experience the same beauty she’s soaked in for years, the company offers retreats to the area. As an escape from the cold, the retreats provide more than yoga or SUP lessons. Guests have the option to participate in as much or as little as desired with other activities such as waterfall adventures, exploring the island, and more.

“This sport is constantly evolving and people are getting more and more skills,” Bradley explained. “In my core, I want people to like it, I want them to have the most seamless experience and love the sport,” she admitted. “[I plan for] no accidents because I’ve done them all so I know what they all are.”

Locally, Paddle Diva rents out boards at $50/hour with $10 each additional hour to those who are skilled enough and are familiar with the water, even offering offsite rentals for an extra $10 pickup and delivery charge. Want to go all out? Rent for an entire day, from 9 AM to 6 PM. Aside from their East Hampton location, Paddle Diva paddles out of Gurney’s and The Surf Lodge in Montauk.

As I finished my lesson, after a brief fall in while attempting to Instagram (a product of my generation, but I’ll blame it on the wind), I couldn’t wait to return and try again. But with all the other SUP companies out there it’s a testament to Bradley’s expertise that she stays afloat.

Without worry, Bradley confidently expressed, “I love it [the competition]. It makes me put my head down and work harder, work smarter and innovate and get ahead of it. So that people are copying you versus getting ahead of you. Every day I wake up, it’s kind of corny, and I pretty much say ‘It’s a brand new day.’ It’s the only thing you get, guaranteed, new and shiny and bright every day, every time you open your eyes…What’s going to happen?”

Perhaps the policy of “We never cancel” goes beyond just her company. A special thank you to my official instructor, Steve Tavolilla, for unleashing my inner Diva!


Paddle Diva is located at 219 Three Mile Harbor HC Road, at Shagwong Marina. For more information visit paddlediva.com or call 631-329-2999.