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Meet the Man Who Went from Broker to Paddle Board Designer

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 6 November 2017
Based as Austin, Texas, Jarvis Boards craft beautiful paddle boards from local materials, ensuring that there is as little environmental impact during the process. Meet the man who left the corporate world to start it all.

Tony Smith’s journey to creating Jarvis Boards started after buying a how-to guide book in a second hand book store detailing how to build a canoe. The following day Smith ordered a table saw and a load of wood and set to work. The end result – even if it did take “a million hours” – was impressive.

“The canoe reignited my passion for building things.” Smith explains, “It was a success. It floated and it looked great – you can’t really ask for much more. I still have it and still use periodically, but now I use a paddle board so much more.”

The canoe, along with an ever increasing interest in paddle boarding, led to the birth of Jarvis Boards, with Smith giving up his job as a stock broker to focus on making these exquisite boards full time. Jarvis Boards craft wooden paddle boards – made using reclaimed lumber and sustainably harvested wood – that are lightweight and durable, using the natural strength of the wood. As well as the wood used, the boards feature a core made from recycled foam, with resins made from recycled bio-waste.

Smith says, “My life now is 180 degrees different to my old career; I haven’t worn a tie in years, and there’s a lot less corporate politics, but I’m still running a business. Work/life balance is a tricky thing – I work more hours now than I used to in finance, but it feels less because I’m more passionate about it. People have to find that balance for themselves. Getting outside in nature is really rejuvenating personally, but the bigger picture is that the more people we can get outside in nature the more advocates we have to protect and preserve our environment.”