Our social-sphere was buzzing last weekend, surrounding WSIAâ€™s #PassTheHandle Day on Sunday, July 23. Founded by water sport legends Zane Schwenk and Shaun Murray, this project, designed to cultivate first-time riders, has now reached new heights as thousands of newbies hit the water over the weekend.
Founded four years ago, #PassTheHandle started as an idea but has grown into the largest participation movement in the towed water sports industry, with crucial participation and support from manufacturers, dealers, athletes, schools and people who just love to share their favorite passion with others.
The concept was born through an idea that Schwenk and Murray had over dinner one night in 2013.Â “Growing participation by empowering enthusiasts was the idea,” Murray said. “Not for the end result of making money, but simply to put smiles on faces. If youâ€™ve ever been behind the boat, you know the feeling, and itâ€™s all because of the person who introduced you to the activity. #PassTheHandle is about paying that forward and sharing the feeling that was once shared with you.”
WSIA Executive Director, Kevin Michael, manages and promotes the initiative from Orlando, Florida, and was surprised to see the project moving on its own power more than ever before. â€œWe added new elements in pre-event publicity this year including strategic social plugs,â€ Kevin said. â€œBut the lion share of support came from people and organizations who werenâ€™t even asked to help. For the first time, weâ€™re really seeing this thing run on its own legs, and at this point, we couldnâ€™t even stop it if we tried.â€
People who love being on the water have taken the project on as their own, which is what Schwenk and Murray envisioned from the beginning.
For those south of the equator, (including South America and Australia) help spread the word for the second annual #PassTheHandle Southern Hemisphere Day on December 10, 2017.
As an awareness-driven concept, #PassTheHandle largely relies on social media channels and the hashtag specifically, mostly used on Instagram as well as Facebook by participants around the world. The next step is to be recognized as a year-round initiative, so whenever anyone learns to ski, wakeboard, tube, etc. for the first time, the hashtag #PassTheHandle is appropriate.
If you will be attending Surf Expo, please stop by the WSIA booth and pick up free stickers and possibly score a #PassTheHandle t-shirt.
For more questions, ideas, etc. e-mailÂ ten.aisw@ofni.