The Relocalizing of Badfish SUP


The origin of one of Colorado’s original standup paddleboard brands says it’s experiencing a rebirth. Or, as company co-founder Mike Harvey likes to call it, a “re-independenting.”

While the expression may not exactly roll off the tongue, it’s the perfect description of the innovative, previously independent surf and SUP company’s return to its riverside roots.

After a six-year partnership with Boardworks Surf in Carlsbad, Calif., Badfish SUP announced it is not renewing the licensing agreement and is once again handling all aspects of business from its corporate headquarters alongside the Arkansas River in Salida, Colo., effective immediately.

Like the saga of a garage band that outgrew its first label, Badfish has forged its own production company in order to expand its creative offerings.

The new Badfish remix will focus on a refreshed variety of inflatable SUPs, performance river-runners and high-end epoxy river-surfing boards, in both SUP and short-board shapes. And, like that growing grunge band, co-founders Harvey and Zack Hughes are bringing in industry persona Luke Hopkins as an equal partner, with the idea being to help push them to the other side through added expertise in design, manufacturing, sales and distribution.

“I like to think of it as Badfish plus,” says Hopkins, a passionate paddler and longtime outdoor industry leader. “Zack and Mike have done something great. They’ve created their own sport of river SUP that other brands have been trying to catch up to ever since. Now Badfish plus is expanding into more innovative products, features and designs with the ability to offer service that parallels product quality.”

Drawing on a lifelong surfing background from his native San Diego, and a stint as a freestyle kayaking pro, Hughes began shaping river surfers to maximize his rides at the local Salida Whitewater Park back in 2008.

Those waves just happened to be built by Harvey, a renowned river park designer and budding standup paddler who was seeking the same result from the other direction. The merging of those minds toward a common goal led to the birth of Badfish.

Since diving in full-time in 2010, the watermen behind Badfish SUP have benefited from the ultimate backyard river surfing laboratory to create a new culture based around cutting edge designs. Now they say their true potential has been unleashed to further explore the evolution of the sport they helped establish.