A NATURAL HIGH

BY BARRY WALDMAN

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Package up fun and adventure, put it on one of the coolest islands on the East Coast, and you have Sealand Adventure Sports in downtown Sullivan’s Island.

Described as “a lifestyle store for healthy addictions” by owner Scott Hyland, Sealand has everything kite, paddle, surf and skate that you could want, along with apparel and related necessities for skimming a wave or gliding down the street. The store also offers lessons and rentals.

Sealand hums with a cool vibe, from the locally made jewelry for sale to the PASAcertified instructors with gnarly nicknames, like El Jefe and Eggroll. (PASA stands for Professional Air Sports Association.) Customers, a mix of tourists and locals, are eager to chat up the staff about wind speed and the thrill of flying. No matter their backgrounds, they have in common a desire to leave their troubles behind and feel the wind in their hair.

That dream is what prompted Scott Hyland to open Sealand years ago. An avid boater until 2006, Hyland realized that lounging on deck with a beer wasn’t feeding his athletic desires. When he took a lesson in what was then the newfangled sport of kiteboarding, his whole world changed. “It’s amazing to jump 20 to 40 feet in the air and glide across the water,” he says.

Hyland’s obsession is such that he walks around with an app on his phone that alerts him to the speed and direction of the wind and a host of other metrics that tell him when to drop everything, grab his gear and hit the water.

This passion is what compelled Hyland to open Sealand, a store for addicts like him, who can’t go long without flying, rolling or sliding. The name of the store says it all: Sealand isn’t just about the sea—paddleboarding, surfboarding and kiteboarding—it’s about the land too—skateboarding and related activities. And the boards Sealand carries come in funky colors and designs that would make Andy Warhol smile.

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Newcomers to these sports needn’t make a big initial investment. They can rent gear and take lessons from Sealand’s experts.

But the store carries one new item that isn’t for rent and doesn’t require a lesson. That’s the unique OneWheel, a board that appeals to skateboard enthusiasts who seek an all-terrain experience. OneWheel is a motorized, gyroscope-guided skateboard with a fat, rubberized tire in the middle. It looks like the front end of a scooter and feels like freedom. OneWheel’s inventors call it “snowboarding on land.”

The deluxe model cruises at 19 mph on nearly any surface, making it perfect for urban transportation as well as beach cruising and all-terrain recreation. The machine senses when you get on and off, and directs its white front light and red back light in the proper direction, depending on which way the operator guides OneWheel to move.

Want to try one out? Don’t go anywhere else. Sealand is the only shop in South Carolina selling OneWheel. Although some people might be intimated by it, Hyland says he can teach anyone to use it in five minutes.

Sealand is a local business in the purest sense of the word. It boasts a local owner who sells locally made products and gives back to the community. As president of Wind Sports for Wounded Warriors, Hyland takes a handful of vets to the beach each year, puts them up in a donated house, feeds them at Home Team and Poe’s, and teaches them kiteboarding.

Last year, a paraplegic veteran learned how a kite and a board could free him from his disability, at least for a few hours. Another warrior who lost a limb not only took the lesson but returned as an instructor. “Their faces lighted up!” says Hyland.

Barry Waldman is principal of Big Fly Communications, a PR/marketing firm for nonprofits and small businesses.