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An Open Letter to First Year Racers

May 12, 2016 Megs Phillips

Hello, Novice Paddlers!

We just wanted to let you all know, on the eve before your first race, that you are awesome.  No, we are not just talking to the genetic freaks of nature that were recruited to make the veterans look bad.  And no, we’re not just talking to the land lubbers who decided to face their fears of the open ocean and try this “paddling thing” at long last. 

We are talking to ALL of you; beautiful, bold new racers.

Novice Paddler Eggs

We’re looking at you, noobies who still don’t know how to swim – and to the fresh meat that was coerced (blackmailed, even?) by their friends to “just try it.”  We are talking to the doe-eyed folks who have been hazed by our club’s long tradition of “NOVIE ON THE WHEELS!”  (Making the first years take over cart duty, hunched over in humility.) 

We want to acknowledge the first-years who really have no idea what they have signed up for, yet they just keep coming back.  Practice after practice, good weather or bad, sore muscles, chaffed butts, blistered hands – you have the stoke, and you will soon embark on your first real trial; that first rite of passage.  You may have a solid, tight knit crew of first years with whom you have bonded.  You may be thrown into a boat of complete strangers, but soon you will realize you all have an amazing passion in common.  You may be going a long distance, or you may not be going far at all.  It might be over in a flash, or it may take hours.

None of these differences matter in the slightest, because we, the insufferable know-it-alls, are SO proud of you.  We are more than excited you are taking this step to be EPIC, because there is something about that first race that cannot be described in words.  You will be nervous, you will be exhilarated, and we will be screaming our heads off for you when you cross that finish line!

We have been watching you.  Your skills are being honed; your technique is coming along.  Your cardiovascular systems have been challenged, your spirit tested, and we just want to let you know that we are so happy to have you join our weird little family.  We are thrilled that you have come to love this sport that we all cherish.

Novice Paddler Hatched

After all, now that you paddle, you totally get it!

    - Paddy Paddler and Your Fellow Paddlers

      (Read more from Paddy Paddler in her Paddler Problems Diary)

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      Team Writer Megs Phillips - Raised a Cali beach bum, playing in the sand and surf before she could talk, Megs has enjoyed white water rafting, dappled with OC1's, SUPs, and kayaks, and is a deep lover of all things ocean, river, rapids, and lake related. In 2010 she discovered outrigger canoeing and was instantly hooked; paddling with Ka Nai'a Outrigger in Santa Barbara. Her contributions to Cali Paddler are amazing and  much appreciated!

      Should you have an idea or topic for her, feel free to send it our way and we will pass it along! In addition to following her here at Cali Paddler, we encourage you, no implore you, to visit her personal blog: Paddler Problems, where you can enjoy more of her fun writings and comics.


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