Keeping Cool With Island Water Sports

posted by / Blogs / August 17, 2010

Island Water Sports

By Taylor Paul


Every Saturday morning at 7:00am, two hundred people converge on Island Water Sports surf shop in Deerfield Beach, Florida. They come for their free surf lesson. No catches. No hidden fees. Boards are provided, thank you.

“It started in the early 90’s before paid surf lessons became popular,” says Island Water Sports Owner and pro surfer Cheyne Cottrell. “We do it to get people stoked on surfing and keep them from doing…other stuff.”

“Other stuff” like partying, causing trouble, or other activities that subtract from the well being of the community. Because the community is what makes IWS. In addition to the surf lessons, they host free movie nights and concerts in their parking lot. The shop, just a two blocks from the surf, is a hub for local surfers.

Big deal, you say, I hang out at my local shop too. But IWS has street cred beyond the groms that hang there. It’s more than just the place you go to lie about how your wave was.

“We work with the city a lot with different events,” Chris says. “ In fact just yesterday I met with the teen center here in Deerfield. They said, ‘none of the kids are hanging out in teen center, can you help us make it cool?’ So now we’re going to help them do events so they can attract more kids.”

IWS is a force. Chris’ dad, Kirk Cottrell started it in 1978 in a 500 square foot building in a bad part of town. Nine robberies and one year later, they upgraded to a bigger shop. Then a bigger one. Then a few more shops. By the end of the ‘80s, IWS was “going the Pac Sun route” and had more than 30 shops. But Kirk soon realized two things—the bubble was bursting and running surf shops wasn’t as fun as it used to be. He was spending more time in the office and less time in the shop and water.

Back to his roots Kirk went. He sold off all but the shop that stands today. The shop that’s 7000 square feet. The shop that has over five hundred boards. The shop that carries all the big name clothes and accessories. The shop that shares a property with a local shaper, so customers can go out back and watch their boards being made. The shop that sponsors the best surfers around and is sponsored by perhaps the biggest sponsor of all—God.

“We have bible study every Friday night,” Cheyne explains. “It used to be at the shop but it got too big for that so now we have it at the church down the street. And that’s the main reason we have the shop—to make a family friendly atmosphere and keep kids on track with the Lord. Or at least out of trouble.”

Family owned and operated. Free surf lessons. Bible studies. These things sit well with most people because Island Water Sports is giving gifts to the community. Positive experiences provided with good intentions. And while they do these things for the people, there’s a large perk for IWS, a payoff for bleeding goodwill into the world. The people from the surf lessons and movie premiers and bible studies need cool clothes and accessories. And we know where people in Deerfield turn when they need help being cool.

IWS Videos

Cheyne Cottrell in The Pursuit

Cheyne Cottrell, David Richards, Alan Van Gysen, and Brendon Bosworth surfing Skeleton Bay.

IWS Photos

Cheyne Cottrell

Cheyne Cottrell


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  • Jack Hicks

    Pretty Rad story on this shop! The owner rips right?

  • JohnO

    Surf shop Bible studies? Super cool. That’s what surfing is all about: buying some retail shit and getting down with J-dog.

  • scotty

    hypocrites…., the whole pack of ’em. rich kids with the opportunity that not many other’s have, nor will they ever. it’s easy to be sponsored by hurley and j/c, and oakley and so forth and so on when your pops owns a surfshop. just look at sterling spencer, perfect example. as far as the bible studies go, been to em, been around the core group, it’s clicky, nothing more than a place for the cool kid’s to copare clothing, and laugh at the less fotunate who wear hand me down’s or lesser known brands. one thing florida has less of other than the quality surf, is quality surfers. dont be fooled, 90% of the surfers in s. florida are kook’s. the one’s that are good or half decent are rich, spoiled brats, or blue collar extremely hard working. that is if the drug’s dont get em first. S. florida is a joke as far as surfers go. Dont be fooled. and dont be a sheep

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  • Alex K.

    I don’t know how to feel about this. I feel tricked.

  • TweeterMonkey

    How much does it cost to run one of these ads?

  • Taylor paul

    @TweeterMonkey It’s totally negotiable. Contact me directly and we can work something out.

  • Mikey R

    Free surf lessons now, and plenty of gear for sale later when you decide to upgrade. Guess where they’ll go for a first board? Smart business…bad for crowds.

  • Brianna

    Unfortunately there are always going to be haters! I know plenty of kids not labeled “rich kids” that are just great surfers because they rip!! Scott its obvious you just don’t know what your talking about. Matt Oberman, Cappy Cheshire, Keahi Kam, Greg Taylor, Tanner Stromenger, Wesley Desuza….. just to name a few. All Florida surfers, not rich kids and their “Daddy’s don’t own a surf shop. So Scotty I hope you find love happiness in your life. Hating people will just make you a bitter, grumpy, cold old man and my prayer for you is to find your gifts and feel good about yourself. Peace to you dude!

  • EB&D

    @Brianna — your religious condescension is adorable. You lace your words with anger and bitterness of your own, yet veil them in a passive-aggressive shot at false compassion. Suppression of true feelings and motives — it is the essence of your Christianity. Peace to you Brianna!

  • Love IWS

    Yes, Cheyne & the IWS crew are into Christianity. So are some of my best friends. Some of my other friends are Muslims, Hindus and jews. Don’t knock them down, unless you get to know them. This shop has one of the most loyal friends, fam, customers and people who come back year after year on vacation. MOST importantly, most of the best surfers from S Florida come from humble backgrounds and have made the most of their lives, not advertising their upbringings or lack their of – but are fueled to allow their surfing talent to take them through their careers.

    Challenging religion should be left among close friends and with intelligent debates. Additionally, it sounds like both EB&D and Scotty are either close to IWS or jealous Florida surfers.

    Too sad you guys wasted your energy in seeing the negative in this article, vs the positive: Showcasing the youth of an under 30 crew running a shop that’s about as old as they are

  • Jesus Christ Superstar

    I went in there a couple months ago and some chick that must weigh 250 was telling me i needed to get a dumpster diver…

  • Too Funny
  • KayakSale

    hi dear sir,

    real info ..thanks for sharing…

  • Nina

    Feb08Bradley Hook Haha – thkans Capkiko. I don’t know what you’rew talking about but I love it.