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Best friends launch water sports rental company in Swansea

Best Friends Evan Richards and Lewis Morgan rent out paddle boards across 26 of the Gower's beaches

A Swansea duo are preparing for a second season of business SUP-cess, having launched a popular water sport rental company with the support of Big Ideas Wales.

Gower Waves is a mobile stand up paddleboard (SUP) rental company that delivers equipment across all 26 of the Gower’s beaches, from Langland and Swansea Bay to Caswell and Oxwich Bay.

Behind the business are best friends Evan Richards, 20, and Lewis Morgan, 19 from Swansea. The pair launched Gower Waves in early 2023 during a gap year and spent the summer driving from beach to beach delivering customised paddle boards to holiday makers and water sports enthusiasts, capitalising on the rising popularity of the sport.

Last summer, Gower Waves was renting out up to eight paddle boards per day. By September, the business had made over £2k from rentals, and a further £2k by selling Gower Waves hoodies. This year, Evan and Lewis are preparing for an equally busy season, with plans to invest profits in expanding their rental offering to kayaks and surfboards.

Stand up paddleboarding, alongside other water sport activities like kayaking and surfing, rose in popularity in 2021 as travel restrictions drove locals to their nearest beach. As a result, the number of people paddle boarding in the UK rose from 3,785 to 7,272* and the Gower, with its 25 beaches, became a hotspot for paddling enthusiasts thanks to its calm, clear waters and soft winds.

Evan Richards said: “Lewis and I grew up together. We met at Bishopston Comprehensive School and went to Gower College Swansea’s Gorseinon campus together. We’re very likeminded, so when it came to taking a gap year we both wanted to do something beneficial to our future, but equally fun. We have so many fond memories surfing and kayaking at the beach, so we decided to launch a business that enabled others to have the same experiences and make the same memories.”

Talking about the Gower Waves’ customer experience, Lewis Morgan adds: “We’ve found renting to be very popular among first-time paddlers who don’t want to splash out on equipment to just try the sport. We love getting out there and meeting our customers, sharing our love of the water, our advice and, most importantly, discuss being safe in the waters.”

Evan and Lewis launched Gower Waves with the support of Big Ideas Wales, a Welsh Government funded service that, as part of Business Wales, aims to support young people aged 25 and under to develop a business idea as part of its commitment to the Young Person’s Guarantee.

The best friends turned business partners reached out to Big Ideas Wales early 2023 and were instantly paired with business advisor Michela Bloomfield who helped them develop a business plan, secure business insurance and create a legally binding waiver that, once signed by customers, protects them from lost propriety or accidents.

Michela also signposted Evan, who works part time as a Duty Manager at a local hotel, to the Young Person’s Start Up Grant. The pair put the funding towards customised Gower Waves paddle boards. Evan and Lewis used the remaining funding to professionally print business flyers, which were distributed among local campsites, holiday rentals and shops, and canvas posters that were put up around Gower’s most popular beaches.

Discussing Michela’s support, Evan said: “Having the help of an experienced business advisor has made the world of difference to our start-up. Without Michela we can’t help feeling that we’d be five steps behind. Neither of us had any idea how to successfully run a business, but with the support of Big Ideas Wales anyone can become a successful entrepreneur. We can’t thank them enough for helping us turn our passion into a reality.”

Alongside broadening their rental offering, Evan and Lewis’ long-term goal is to secure enough profits to purchase their own van and physical storage lots on beaches across Gower, making housing and transporting their products simpler.

Business advisor Michela said: “Each day I work with entrepreneurs who have no prior experience of running a business. Evan and Lewis are the perfect example of how, with the right support and dedication, anyone can become successful entrepreneurs and turn their passion into an income. Their story is testament that any passion or hobby can be a thriving business.”