Stagecoach Wake business under new ownership, focuses on surfing
Steamboat Springs resident Tony Distrola learned early the secret to life.
“I have a passion for sharing the things I love,” he said. “I do snowmobiling in the winter. I was a pro snowboarder and a coach in my 20s. I realized that whenever you share your passion with people, it gives your life purpose.”
In the summer, the passion he shares is wake surfing. Distrola runs Wake, a watersports outfitter based at Stagecoach Reservoir. He bought the business last year from Kim and Ben Saari when they left town for Tennessee. Distrola had worked for them previously and has been in the Yampa Valley since 2014.
He has about 34 years of watersports knowledge and experience. He grew up going to lakes and rivers in Western Pennsylvania. Through his skills and his years of coaching experience, he is confident he can teach anybody how to wake surf. He’s taught people, age 8 to 73, how to stand up and surf behind his boat.
“I kind of have a knack for it,” he said. “I ask people their background, and I have a lot of sports knowledge. So, I’m able to compare what they’re doing to something they’ve done before. That goes a long way for people.”
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The Saaris offered multiple wake options, but Distrola is focusing on wake surfing. It’s a safer and more accessible wake discipline. Distrola has a surfing-specific boat that generates the perfect wake for learning to surf. He also has 10 different boards to offer participants.
Distrola is pivoting away from the other disciplines because he believes surfing is the best one.
“It’s very personable,” he said. “You can communicate from the driver to the rider and actually coach. You can see people’s facial expressions. You can hear their body hit the water. It’s just a very up close and personal sport for the spectator in the boat, and you’re so close to the boat, as the rider, you’re able to get instruction and progress quicker.”
Wake has exclusivity at Stagecoach and has been busy. He met his two-month revenue goal in six weeks. He’s able to work more than the previous owners did, as he is building a house on the shore of Stagecoach nearby. He can accommodate almost any schedule and spends most of his mornings and evenings working on bookings. He loves that Wake is a small business and he hopes to keep it small but busy.
Distrola has a family that comes three times a week to wake surf. They are all different levels but enjoy spending time on the water together. That’s the type of business he wants to attract.
“I would like to cater more to the locals, and do something more beneficial for the community and not just focus on tourism,” he said
The biggest challenge in taking on the business is being a one-man show and learning to keep the books and manage the schedule. The best part of the job makes that all worth it, though.
“The best part is sharing what I love with people,” he said. “And seeing the look on their face when they get up (on the board) and their excitement.”
The best way to book with Wake is by calling or texting Distrola at 970-367-3822. Rates and more information can be found at WakeWS.com.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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The iconic cone-shaped building on the corner of Yampa and 11th streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was once a wood-waste burner before being moved to become the home for Sore Saddle Cyclery and Moots Bicycles.