Building a life on the water Anik & Jay Wild

By Tim Hauserman · 

The Wild’s dream is to build a foundation to create world-class standup Paddleboarders.

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Jay Wild enjoying a day on Lake Tahoe · 

Lake Tahoe is home to many world-class athletes who can’t wait to spread their passion for the sports they love. But what happens when two athletes who are bursting with enthusiasm for human-powered water sports end up together? If they are Anik and Jay Wild, you get a couple who are doing so many awesome things for the paddling community that it is hard to fathom there are only two of them.
Anik Demers Wild was born and raised in Quebec and grew up to become a member of the Canadian National Ski Team. She has a long list of accomplishments as a skier including two Skier Cross championships and 15 career Skier Cross victories. Ten months before the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, however, her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion came to an end, and she retired from competitive skiing.

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Anik Wild competes in a paddleboard event on Lake Tahoe ·

She was having difficulty recovering from her ninth concussion, and said that she decided that being alive was more important than being in a race. She became a student at Sierra Nevada College, and one day while working at the Headwall Cafe in Squaw Valley met Jay Wild, who was working at the Climbing Wall nearby.
“I had climbing gear and she had a climbing rope, one thing led to another,” Jay says.
While Anik was busy conquering the skiing circuit, Jay was living in Southern California near the water, but didn’t truly discover his passion for paddling until he arrived in Tahoe. He came here with no plan, just following a friend who was here to spend the summer firefighting. But once Jay and Anik found each other, things began to take off fast.

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The Wilds have created a kids camp to introduce kids to watersports in Tahoe. | annieXphoto ·

Promoting watersports
Jay says that their proudest accomplishment is the Junior Waterman Camp.
“It was created to bring the lake to Tahoe youth,” says Jay. “I saw this giant body of water, and was surprised there wasn’t more activity going on. The kids were not playing in the water.” He said that when he thought about the amazing talent pool of young athletes who spent their winters skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, he knew he needed to get them out on the water. The four-day Junior Waterman Camp’s teaches standup paddleboarding, prone paddleboarding, outrigger canoes and swimming to 8- to 14-year-olds. There was just one camp the first year, but they have three scheduled for this year.
For the kids and adults who want to take their paddling to the next level, the Wild’s developed the Team Tahoe Waterman.
The Wild’s dream is to build a foundation that will create world-class standup paddleboarders, a sport that is hopefully slated to become part of the 2020 Olympic games.
“We are providing resources for kids to enjoy the lake. We have such a talent pool, per capita, we have the largest number of national level youth paddlers in the nation,” says Anik.
But these two endeavors are only the beginning of what the Wild’s are up to. They also own the Waterman’s Cafe in Carnelian Bay that serves as a home base for the popular Patton Beach.
“It’s the most ideal beach club that we can create in Lake Tahoe,” says Jay.
The Wild’s also run the nonprofit Lake Tahoe Waterman Association, which provides education, mentorship and coaching to support human-powered sports on Lake Tahoe.

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World-class competitors
The Wild’s compete in World Class level paddleboarding competitions around the world. In September, they are headed to Southern California to compete, and then on to Tahiti in November and December. But they don’t just compete, they win.
In 2014, Jay was first in the Ta-hoe Nalu race, the Tahoe Waterman’s Challenge, the Tahoe Classic and the Battle of the Bay in San Francisco. This year, he has already won the Bar Rocce Race in Sausalito. They also sponsor and help organize the Ta-hoe Nalu and the Jam from the Dam in Tahoe.
To be a top-notch competitor, you have to train, and the Wild’s are out on the water just about every day year-round. In 2010, they decided that a few hours was not enough, so they paddled around Lake Tahoe. They stayed within 50 feet of shore and paddled for 22 hours without touching land (unless you count the boulders they ran into in the middle of the night along the East Shore).
All that training and fitness led to Paddle Elite Fitness, in which Jay trains top-notch paddlers. Oh, and they are also Crossfit Instructors. How can they accomplish all these tasks while raising a 3-year-old child? Perhaps their motto is helpful: “Get up, get out and get going.”
“We have passion for active, water-based lifestyle,” says Jay. “We want to teach the lesson of how to train, work hard and achieve your goals,” and then with a laugh he says, “And, I didn’t want to work in construction.”

For more information, visit laketahoewaterman.org or watermanslanding.com.

Tim Hauserman
Tim wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, as well as “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and the children’s book “Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventures in Time.” Most of the year he writes on a variety of topics, but you will find him in the winter teaching cross-country skiing and running the Strider Gliders program at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. He has lived in Tahoe since he was a wee lad and loves to be outdoors road and mountain biking, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking and cross-country skiing.