By Rob LeDonne
Throughout her entire life, Del Mar resident Kathryn McCann has been as active as possible. Growing up in the northeast, she practiced ballet; later, she delved into the world of yoga and is currently an instructor at Sculpt Fusion on Carmel Mountain Road. In addition, she’s also an avid fan and promoter of stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP). As a result, last month a prominent Florida-based SUP brand, YOLO Boards, signed McCann to the company as a Team Rider, making her a national face and ambassador of the sport.
“I’m basically just spreading my love and knowledge for stand-up paddling,” said McCann of her newly anointed title. “It’s an amazing form of exercise. I also love YOLO’s philosophy of ‘You Only Live Once.’ I’m always reading quotes to my students in yoga classes with that idea, so I’m very excited about all of it.”
While not as popular as other water sports like surfing yet, stand-up paddleboarding is quickly gaining momentum among people, young and old, as a viable and safe form of exercise and activity while in the ocean. The sport, which only requires a paddleboard and paddle, has roots going back to the 1960s in Hawaii, which, coincidentally, was where McCann first learned to paddleboard herself. McCann found herself there after transitioning from ballet to, of all professions, dolphin trainer.
“At the time, I was training dolphins at Dolphin Quest on Oahu and first went out on a paddleboard in the back rivers there. I was instantly hooked.”
After the recession and weak Hawaiian tourism at the time, McCann moved to San Diego to work at SeaWorld — and brought with her a passion for stand-up paddleboarding, spreading it to a whole new audience in Southern Californian through teaching yoga.
“When I got to California, I started combining yoga on paddleboard and got more serious about paddling,” she explained.
McCann’s timing couldn’t have been better; around the same time companies like YOLO started popping up, and races were being established, the first ever of which only occurred in Lake Tahoe in August of 2007. Part of the reason for the sport’s newly-found popularity is, according to McCann, it’s “accessible to anybody. If you’re good at just standing on the board, you don’t necessarily even have to get into the water. With surfing you’re dealing with waves, but stand-up paddleboarding is much calmer. The stand-up paddling I do is mainly in bays and marinas. With a flat water surface, it allows people to grasp the sport more easily and it gives you such a feeling of accomplishment later. It brings people together in terms of friendships and families; I’ve even seen people come to stand-up paddleboarding classes with a date.”
Because of her passion and expertise, it only makes sense that McCann linked up with YOLO, a relationship that began after meeting YOLO’s president, Jeff Archer, at a recent competition. The two clicked, and after McCann visited the company’s headquarters in Florida, they agreed to collaborate.
“I’m just happy to spread my knowledge; I’ve been working with a lot of men and women who are fearful of the water. It’s all about taking people out of their comfort zones,” which is something McCann has obviously done herself. “It’s interesting that my path went from ballet to dolphins to yoga to paddleboarding,” she muses. “Once you master something on the matt with yoga, it’s nice to translate that onto the boards.”
For more about McCann and her mission, visit