News and Events

2022 Winner and Entries for Christmas Canoe Giveaway Contest

Please find below all of the wonderful entries we received (and were not asked to withhold from publishing). As you can see, our community is full of amazing people. Not only deserving of such a gift, but filled with selfless individuals who consider others and take the time to thoughtfully share their praises. Enjoy these well written tributes, and know that we at Cali Paddler are so honored to have met these individuals through their nominators!

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2022 Christmas Canoe Giveaway Contest

(This contest has ended. The entries and winner can be seen here.)

T’was the night before paddling season and… is that a Canoe I see? Under the Christmas tree? Give the gift of sun and sea this season! Want to win an OC1 canoe for someone special? And just in time for the holidays, too? Then join us for this very special opportunity!


We are hosting an essay-writing competition - the winner will earn a very special canoe worth several thousand dollars. But it’s not the monetary value that makes this canoe so special, so what does? Well, back in 2019, Cali Paddler hosted a very similar essay competition with this canoe at it’s heart. The owner of the OC1 at the time, a very generous donor, wished to pass along the canoe to someone who would cherish it. So, in partnership with Cali Paddler, they brought the idea for this competition to life!

In an effort to pay this generosity forward, the winner of the original competition, the current owner of the OC1, has proposed we host another! Talk about amazing generosity!?!?! Isn't the paddling community great? This competition has a very unique rule though: the essay must be written not by the individual who will be using the canoe, but rather by someone who wishes to gift the canoe to someone they care about. 

This competition depends on an honor system, so please, in the spirit of the holiday season, be sure to write truthfully and from the heart.

Essay Rules:

  1. The essay must be written not by the intended recipient, but rather by someone who wishes to give the OC1 as a gift
  2. The essay must describe how the intended recipient
    - is involved in the paddling community,
    - and how paddling seems to have changed their life for the better

Official Contest Rules

Entries must be received no later than December 15, 2022 at 11:59pm PST. To be emailed to

The recipient/winner promises not to turn around and sell it. This is a gesture from the heart to the paddling community, so someone can enjoy the freedom and joy an OC1 can bring. They ask that, should the winner ever decide to part ways with the canoe, they “give” it to the next owner. Also, that they make its story known to future owners so that the tradition can be carried forward, to cherish, paddle, and pass along!

All entries are submitted with permission to Cali Paddler, LLC to publish in any medium (print, web, social media). Full authorship credit would be given to the author.

Pickup and transportation is the responsibility of the winner. If the winner is local to the San Diego area, delivery may be available. Donor lives in the greater San Diego area.

Winner will be contacted directly and announced no later than December 18th, 2022.

Winning entry will be determined by the current OC1 owner and Cali Paddler with invited input from the original canoe owner. Judging will be based on compelling content, and presentation.

All ages may apply. If under 18, parent/guardian permission and acknowledgment must be provided.

All eligible entries will be emailed a $5.00 1-time use discount code to the store.


About the Prize Canoe

Package includes:

Huki V1-Z OC-1
NEW Aloha Designs Canoe Cover
Cali Paddler Hat

OC1 is well cared-for. Water-tight with professional level repairs performed as needed.

Full description at:

Dimensions: 21' 10 " LOA, 13.85" BOA 21' 4 " LAW @ full speed, 12.8" BAW @ 190 Lb. paddler 20.5 Lb assembled main hull (Carbon/Kev)

CP Reviews - Meta Leash

MetaLeash Review

We were recently contacted to try out a leash from a new to us company MetaLeash. Completely redesigned with several goals in mind...

  • Made entirely in the USA
  • Swap in quality parts that will not rust or break
  • Factor in every aspect of safety
  • Improve performance by being smaller and lighter

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The Noio OC1 - Interview with Keizo Gates

"The Noio" OC1 Interview - Learning all about the new design with Keizo Gates of Kamanu Composites.
After a very successful OC1 campaign with the Pueo family, the Kamanu Composites team has unveiled their new canoe, the Noio! We sit down with canoe designer Keizo Gates who shares with us the new innovations with this canoe and ama as they look to advance the next generation of Hawaiian canoe designs. We even learn about lighter and hence faster colors, rudder innovations, and how this canoe will work in various surf and paddling conditions.
Check out the canoe on their website at

Draco OC1 Review with Judson Grey

We recently featured an interview with Kai Bartlett on his new oc1 design The Draco. This revolutionary canoe is geared towards flat water environments, can be rigged on both the right and left, or even double ama rigged. And has been a new direction for Kai Wa’a who’s focus in the past has led to excellent performance in surf and conditions. That said, Kai was confident the canoe would perform well in the surf as well, despite its focus and design goals. But reality of a canoe vs the concept don’t always match. So when we saw that Kai Wa’a team rider Judson Gray raced the new Draco at the recent Hanohano race, we couldn’t wait to send him a bunch of questions to get his feedback and thoughts. The first race opportunity for this design came at the biggest race settings we have had in 2 years, with 600+ race entrants across the two courses. And a high-caliber turnout of performance-focused paddlers who like to go fast from across the country, across the pacific and an international representation as well.

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The Draco OC1 - Interview with Kai Bartlett

"The Draco" OC1 Interview - Get the scoop from Kai Bartlett!
So many questions answered! We are stoked to sit down with Kai Bartlett of Kai Wa'a Canoes and Kayaks who has shaped some of the most popular canoes and successful over the years. We talk about his new canoe, the Draco which is targeting an entirely new demographic and water type. With new innovations and versatility never seen before, we talk about his inspiration for the canoe, and how it differs from his Ares design.
Can it handle the flats? Can it handle the ocean? Find out!


A Welcomed Return to Paddle Racing | Friday Night Brights Recap

For those who have not been obsessively scouring Paddleguru waiting for a local race to pop up you may have missed out on the Friday Night Brights race at the Newport Aquatic Center this past Friday. Now, if I’m being honest, I missed racing so much that the listing on Paddleguru could have said that we would race on inflatable rubber ducks in a puddle in the parking lot and I still would have signed up. Fortunately, however, I got to use my Starboard Sprint that hadn’t seen a race since I bought it the first week of March 2020. As promised, the race was informal, no awards and no shirts, but still organized and well run. In a rare paddle race feat it even started on time. The course, for those who never attended a previous Friday Night Brights, is a fun five miles from NAC to Linda’s bridge that, at least on June 11, saw up, side, and downwind bumps and the occasional boat swell from a wayward direction to help keep you on your game. Additionally, the free burgers from the TK food truck were just as good as one could hope.

Friday Night Brights NAC Paddle Race

As great as a Friday night race can be, it was not the well planned course or the weather that made this memorable. The first time I ever entered a SUP race I was amazed at the combination of competitiveness and camaraderie that was almost palpable as you walked around the beach waiting for the race to start. Everyone was happy to see each other, but it was also clear that everyone was there to compete, and that plenty of high level athletes were on the beach ready to unleash their weeks/months of training post starting horn.  Never has this been so apparent as it was on Friday night. I could hear excitedly raised voices of greeting even before I got out of my car. Since I live pretty far inland I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in over a year, but there were plenty of OC natives greeting others with happily raised voices and smiling faces that were clear from across the beach.

As was expected, however, this all shifted as we moved to the water. Like any water start, the start line was pretty malleable as we all took half strokes to try to gain a little advantage before the whistle. Then the whistle came, the craft took off and the churn of all the paddle strokes and boat wakes were everyone’s main concern. All the thoughts I hadn’t had in over a year came back. Did I want to try and catch up with that draft train of four teenage/twenty somethings? What kind of pace can I maintain? Am I allowed to draft off this OC-1 in front of me even though I’m on a SUP. Then that rhythm that is equal parts pain and joy set in as I found my place and my pace and remembered why paddling has taken up so much of my brain for so much of my life. There were definitely some bright spots throughout. Not falling off my 21.5 inch wide board in the side chop, trying to chase down the silhouette of the OC-1 that passed me as we turned into the setting sun. (I didn’t catch him, I came close though), finishing and seeing my buddy who I paddle with every Wednesday look as happy as I was to return to racing, and of course, that burger at the end.

In case you all had any doubts, racing is just as fun as you remembered it. I look forward to seeing you all out there, and to the guy in the surfski I bumped into early in the race I’m still sorry. I caught a funny wake and lost myself in the excitement a bit.

Friday Night Brights NAC Paddle Race

(Image and video credit to Kristin Thomas of KT Outside. Thank you!

Team Writer Bret WarnerTeam Writer Bret Warner - Paddling truly got its hooks into me when I, on a whim, watched the 1999 Santa Cruz Paddlefest with my dad. I had kayaked a little before, but from then on the addiction was palpable. My first kayak, a purple and turquoise Necky Rip, came soon after. The following year I was that kid at UCSD who had a surf kayak in the common study area instead of a surfboard in my dorm room. I also taught sea kayaking all through college in San Diego, and up in Santa Cruz after I graduated.

When SUP came around, however, the paddling addiction became even more rabid. The garage started to fill up with different types of boards, and is now more than half full of hollow wood boards I have built myself,both for environmental reasons, and because it’s awesome to get to talk about how you built your own board when people ask you about it after a race. I love the paddle racing scene in California right now. Everyone is so stoked to be on the water competing, and the fierce competition is matched by the smiling faces when the race is over. I have gotten to paddle crafts that I never really considered before, and can see myself getting hooked all over again on something else: prone, OC-1, surfski,whatever, I just need more garage space.

Three years ago I founded the non-profit Stand up to Alzheimer’s. An organization that raises money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research through paddle races. This organization was born from lacking a tangible way of dealing with my father’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, but has now become a way, hopefully, for other to help cope as well. Our next event is on July 9 in Monterey at Del Monte Beach, just a little north from Monterey Bay Kayaks. Visit us at

Heiva V3 - The vision, story and specs of a new paddling experience

Heiva V3 interview

We could not be more stoked to talk to Will Reichenstein of the Wa'a House about the new V3 design that he has created and is ready for the paddling community to embrace. We talk story about the vision, the supporting cast, the successes and some failutres along the way to get to the final release version. Why wood strip? Who he looked to for inspiration and late night calls? Biggest challenges and how fast it has gone so far. Dimensions, weight, transport, rigging....we cover it all! Including some footage of it in action!

[In addition to the many names mentioned throughout the video, Will also wanted to give some shout outs to Brian Dalbey of Ozone and Maika Scott who helped with ideas, the whole Poppler family, his parents Willie and Liz, and of course his wife Bobbie who has been a sounding board for ideas and as well!]

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A 2020 Update from Cali Paddler

Greetings friends and paddling family! Boy this has been a tough season hasn't it? From races being cancelled, teams unable to train and connect. And for many, being unable to get on the water at times. Now mind you, we know full-well that these sacrifices are small compared to the challenges many are facing, but being paddlers ourselves, we just wanted to acknowledge that it has been tough on our paddling psyche. And we hope you are finding some time to get on the water to help provide that Vitamin SEA that can get us through the days.

All that said, we wanted to take a moment and give you a PERSONAL update on Cali Paddler. As you probably know, in-person events are where the majority of our connections are made. Where our story is best told. And where our products can be seen and tried-on to witness in person how your friends gush at how awesome you look wearing it. So with the cancelling of the various seasons we have really missed connecting with you, showing off our newest lines, and hearing how your race went. We have maintained our online website and orders have come in through that avenue, and gosh we are so grateful to you all. We had to make a tough call to hold off on replenishing many sizes and out of stock items that continue to be very popular. Our apologies if you found an item online you wanted, only to see your size was not in stock. Ugh, that sucks - we get it! We also had to hit the brakes on many of our new designs that we planned to launch in May and June for you. The amazing feedback you always give drives our products, and we are sad to not have had them ready for the public as we intended.

All that said, we have found some ways to introduce new items that hopefully brought some smiles. We have added gift cards this year for a little while so paddlers can brighten up the day of their friends. (And a big thank you to a very special friend who bought a bunch for his teammates!) And we also added our PupLid Trucker Hats for Paddle Dogs. Yes we know this is a little unorthodox, but we felt a little levity might bring smiles and part some clouds. :)

Some really good news this year was the addition of Cathie and Daven to our Rock Star Sales Team. It is always fun to add to the energy of the team and these two paddlers will continue to make sure the entire paddling state feels loved and connected. Once we get back to the event scene, expect these folks to represent at events. We can't for you to meet them!

So where do we go from here?
Well at this time, we are doing our best to be in a position to come out next season bursting with more awesomeness than ever. We hope to introduce new designs and bring back some classics. Increase the articles and posts with more great content. And grow our cleanup initiatives and non-profit give-backs to new heights.

Thank you for continuing to be Cali Paddlers. Seeing pics of you rocking the gear, tagging us, and taking the steps to be empowered stewards on your own has lifted our spirits. And held true our hopes that we can come out of this better. We will continue to support all the paddlers out there as best we can with our stoke and mission, to be EPIC (Every Paddler In California).

As grateful as ever,
Your paddling friends at Cali Paddler

2020 NorCal Sales Team Announced!

As we enter a new paddling season, Cali Paddler remains committed to having our booths be a place of great energy, camaraderie and of course epic products. And there is nothing more important that the face that greets you when you arrive. We put a lot of time and thought into these roles, and are very excited to announce that in Northern California we will now have two smiling paddlers to represent us as as many events as we can attend. Please take a moment to meet them here and learn about the roles they will be playing!

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