SUP FOCUS: An Interview With Mike Harvey of Badfish SUP

Wanna know what makes us tick?
It's the people we meet. The connections we make. The great companies we work with, and the cool folks behind those companies that create products we can get behind.

Today, we touched base with Mike Harvey, co-owner/co-founder of Badfish SUP to find out a bit more about how he got into the SUP industry.

Mike, tell us a little bit about yourself, your history with SUP, and what made you want to get into the paddle board business? 

Mike Harvey: I moved from Cleveland Ohio to the Upper Arkansas River Valley in Colorado 6 days after graduating high school to become a whitewater rafting guide. I fell in love immediately with the lifestyle and became a whitewater kayaker. I structured my life around whitewater paddling, competing and traveling to paddle.

I owned a rafting business in my 20’s on the Arkansas and then my wife and I settled in Salida in the late 90’s. I wanted to build a whitewater park in downtown Salida on the Arkansas and I started working on that project almost as soon as I settled here. That lead me to an engineer, Gary Lacy, in Boulder, Colorado who was the early pioneer of whitewater parks in the US. I started working for him traveling all around North America to design and build parks. In 2005 I finished a park in Pueblo, Colorado. One of the features in that park became a surfable standing wave at high enough flows. At the time we were designing parks for whitewater kayakers. But when we saw these surfers riding this wave I had built a lightbulb went off.

My partner Zack started shaping river surfing specific surf boards (mutant fish shapes…became Badfish). Then our friend Earl who owned Colorado Kayak Supply brought back the first inflatable Paddleboard I had ever seen on the river and I started playing with it. At some point we decided to blend what Zack was doing with river surfing boards with this new SUP thing and Badfish was born. 

SUP CALIFORNIA: Badfish products have a lot great qualities. What do you feel is the most important aspect of your product line that makes Badfish unique?

Mike Harvey: I think its the fact that we came to the sport at the beginning from a totally unique perspective of landlocked whitewater paddlers. It was a moment of inspiration that would be hard to just fake. We love paddling and all of our ideas come from our desire to create products that our friends would use.

The Selfie Is a good example. Zack wanted to paddle the length of Lake Powell, self-support, on a Paddleboard so he built the board he wanted to use for that adventure. Then he wanted some friends to go so he made 3 of them. A few more prototypes later we had a board that allowed us share our love of self support paddling with our customers. So instead of sitting around trying to think of what someone might buy, we develop products from an authentic desire to have experiences and we hope that will speak to other people. 

SUP CALIFORNIA: Badfish has just introduced the Wayfarer. What differentiates the Wayfarer from your other classic boards such as the Monarch or Surf Traveler?

Mike Harvey: The Wayfarer is the natural evolution of the Surf Traveler and Monarch. We think of the Wayfarer as the 2nd board in the progression for those paddlers. It has removable fins so you can customize it for the paddling experience you are going to have. Its shape and the new Wiki Rail Tail its significantly more efficient than other inflatable Paddleboards, Its really become my favorite board for flatwater or trips the to ocean. The wiki rail actually makes it pretty fun to surf in small waves too. Also there is enough ability to tie on gear or accessories that it works as a adventure platform in addition to your daily driver. 

SUP CALIFORNIA: What does Badfish have planned for 2022?

Mike Harvey: A whole lot, but I can’t tell you 😂. Nah…just kidding. We launched 2 new boards this year (Flyweight and Wayfarer) and we have some new things in the pipeline but we are also focused on continuing to be a part of experiences like hosting the Colorado SUP Championships for the 4th year in our hometown of Salida over Father’s Day weekend. 3 days of racing and river surfing where we crown the Men’s and Women’s State Champion of SUP. Are we the official state championships in Colorado? Yeah…because we said we are. 


Mike Harvey loves Chicama, Peru for surf paddle boarding

SUP CALIFORNIA: Of all the places you’ve been, where is your favorite SUP spot?

Mike Harvey: Chicama, Peru. The worlds longest left hand wave (I’m a goofy footer) is an amazing SUP surf wave. I also love the Maliko Gorge Downwind run on Maui its the ultimate combination of surfing skills and river running skills in my opinion. But of course my home spot of the Arkansas River is what keeps the stoke alive. The little 4 mile down river sprints or surf sessions with my kids is better in many ways than any exotic destination.