Meet the SUP Instructors at Yolo Board Adventures. (New to SUP Lingo? Learn what it means here!) Lead by the Chief Board Schleppers and owners, Mark and Dalia. Their years of experience make them favorites for lessons and tours.
Mark Melancon, Chief Board SchlepperIt could be said that Mark Melancon was born to be a waterman. Born in 1964 in New Orleans, Louisiana, a state synonymous with water, Mark found his sea legs before he could walk. The Melancon family spent almost as much time on, or in, the water as they did dry land. Mark grew up paddling pirogues (the South’s version of a flat bottomed canoe) through Louisiana’s bayous and waterways, learned to read the waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard small powerboats, and does not remember a time when he couldn’t swim.
As an adult living in port cities like San Francisco and Miami, kayaking, scuba diving and water-skiing became passions. Since moving to Southwest Florida in 2005, kite boarding has topped his list of “best things EVER to do on the water.”
So when a long-time friend and owner of YOLO BOARD, Jeff Archer, introduced him to the world of stand-up paddle boarding, it seemed only natural that Mark would take to the sport –well, like a fish takes to water.
Since taking up paddle boarding several years ago, Mark has turned his love of the sport and desire to share it with others into a profession. In 2011 he started Yolo Board Adventures Sanibel and is a SUP instructor certified with The World Paddle Association and Paddle Fit. He is also a distributor for YOLO BOARD who runs SUP demonstrations and fitness classes, and offers lessons, rentals and tours to the general public.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he donates his expertise organizing local races including two benefiting the Special Olympics in 2011 and 2012 in Ft. Myers Beach. He is also a regular participant in coastal cleanups helping to keep Southwest Florida’s waters pristine.
When not pursuing his passions on the water, Mark owns and operates two Planet Fitness gyms –one in Ft. Myers and one in Naples. The Naples facility was opened in 2005 while the Ft Myer’s gym was launched in 2007.
Before he called Southwest Florida home, Mark lived and worked as a fitness trainer in Miami for 15 years. There, in addition to his pursuit of watersports, he also indulged in the painful but rewarding sports of triathlon and adventure racing. Prior to his time in Miami, Mark spent over 3 years in San Francisco where he owned retail kiosks that sold workout clothing.
He currently lives in the waterman’s paradise of Sanibel with his wife Dalia, a dopey but loveable chocolate lab named Beaux, an ornery little parrot called Yazee, and Charlie, an elderly, peach-faced lovebird.
So far, all of his life experiences on the water and in business seem to dovetail nicely into the sport and lifestyle that is stand-up paddle boarding and can be summed up with his life philosophy. “This isn’t a dress rehearsal,” he says. “You only live once!”
Dalia Jakubauskas, Chief Board SchlepperLike her husband Mark Melancon, Dalia Jakubauskas shares a passion for aquatic environments and says she can’t recall a time in her childhood when she didn’t know how to swim. Born under a water sign (Scorpio) but growing up in land-locked Pennsylvania, Dalia says she mourned the end of summer at the Jersey shore.
“As soon as I was old enough to decide for myself where I wanted to be, it was someplace warm with an ocean,” she says.
A resident of Florida since 1986, Dalia left a job as a newspaper reporter in the late 80’s to teach scuba diving in the Caribbean. There, she lived on boats and islands with plans to work her way around the world until she met Mark in Grand Cayman in 1991. Having found the “best playmate ever,” they are now satisfying their curiosity for the planet and its wonders together.
A fitness instructor since 2000, teaching Stand-up paddle boarding seemed like a natural progression. Certified to teach SUP with The World Paddle Association and Paddle Fit, Dalia partners with her husband to give lessons and eco-tours for Yolo Board Adventures Sanibel.
When not on the water, Dalia teaches Spinning and core-strength training classes at the Sanibel Recreation Center. She is also an active volunteer in the Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva, part of an international organization of professional women dedicated to advancing the status of women locally and around the world. She has volunteered her time at Clinic For The Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.) on Sanibel.
Before moving to the coast of Southwest Florida with Mark, Dalia lived in Miami for 15 years where the couple pursued their love of scuba diving, kayaking, triathlon and travel. Sooner or later, she hopes to master surfing, a sport she first tried on her 50th birthday in Kauai in 2011.
She currently lives on Sanibel with Mark and their menagerie consisting of chocolate labrador Beaux, parrot Yazee, and lovebird Charlie.