Cali Paddlers are lucky to have such a great state to paddle in and we tend to make friends with folks who come from many different places to enjoy our waters and paddle alongside us. Ever wonder what they enjoy most about it here? First impressions, and funny tales? We reached out to our friend 'Aussie Steve' from Melbourne to hear his take on things here and remind us how great our home state and community are. Enjoy!
CP: Steve tell us how you ended up coming and paddling in California.
Man that’s such a cool story and it goes to show the power and importance of putting yourself out there and making yourself open and available to interaction with other humans.
I heard this strange accent on the beach of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands back in 2012, which also happened to be my first paddling race. It was this rocking lady from San Diego trying to put a team together for the sprints. Naturally I was in!
We got chatting and I committed to coming out the following year and checking out SoCal.
The great thing about this one conversation is when I look back now to all the people in the USA and Hawaii that I have met and paddled with none of that would have happened or happened to the extent that it has, if I didn’t put myself out there and start the conversation!
CP: Any funny stories of your first experiences here?
The USA is so so so so cool. That being said you drive on the wrong side of the road. My first driving experience was in LA and I ended up stopping at a red light (which is what you do in Australia) Then the guy behind me blasted me with his horn and loudly suggested I should turn right. He then got out of his car and asked what was wrong with me. I said “Nothing I’m just waiting for the green light!” - apparently you can turn right on a red. Weird!
Other funny things like the measurement (miles and gallons and feet) and my personal favourite… Chips and Fries, Cookies and Crackers and Biscuits. So many words means so many different things and who would want potato chips with their burger ever?
CP: What crafts, regions and races have you done here?
Races! Have done Oceanside’s 9 man Race, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Catalina, Queen Lilio, Molokini Race on Maui, Molokai, Blackburn (Boston) and at time of writing a few weeks from Na Pali. Unreal experiences all over the place.
CP: What is the best thing California has going for it compared to other places you have paddled?
Cali rocks. The world is painted a perception of America just as you guys may or may not think we ride Kangaroos to work (only when the traffic is bad) we don’t associate America with healthy, active and simply amazing humans. And that’s what rocks about California. So much water, amazing climate to paddle in and a variety of conditions.
Its also less intimidating to get involved at local SoCal races than it is to get involved over in Hawaii. Everyone is filled with Aloha Spirit and willing to go out of their way to make me and other visitors feel welcomed.
CP: How have you met so many folks in our state?
Again it’s all come from that one conversation back in 2012 but I mean the paddling community is so RAD and us Aussies don’t mind a chat so I mean it’s not difficult to one minute be talking about burgers and beer in SoCal then to reconnect with paddlers you met briefly in NorCal and then jump in the car or on a plane and go and paddle their waters.
It’s all about being willing to take opportunities when they present themselves.
CP: Any place here you think we should each strive to go paddle that you have come across?
Get up and support the NorCal race scene. Alcatraz and Angel Island are amazing races and some seriously cool waters to paddle.
Cook Islands and the Vaka Eiva Paddle Festival is another must do for all paddling enthusiasts. Think Kona but a week long and everything from one man, 9 man, 6 man and sprints.
CP: Anything else to share about your impressions?
What I love most is wearing the Cali Paddler gear back home and people asking me what its all about. The paddling community has the ability to make paddling accessible to so many people from so many different areas. It just comes back to a willingness to connect and a desire to have new experiences and make life long friends from all over the place.
The more craft you try, the bigger this thing can become and it’s exciting to see how big and how much reach these hats and this movement can get.
If anyone is thinking about coming down under, hit me up with a message and I’ll point you in the right direction.