[ One of the great things about the paddle community in California and worldwide is that the business owners in the industry are generally paddlers. They saw an opportunity to make the sport better and harnessed their entrepreneurial skills and courage to bring services and products that help us get on the water and enjoy it. The CP Spotlight Series shines a light on paddlers, coaches and in this case, the businesses that deserve to be showcased for all.]
The Wa'a House was started by Will Reichenstein and his wife Bobbie in 2018 to service paddle-craft repair needs. Wa'a (pronounced vah-ah; Hawaiian for canoe) are certainly the main craft he works on, and one stroll through the shop and you will see a variety of outrigger canoes from old Stringrays to new Ares. The shop is located in Oceanside, just 5 minutes east on the 76 freeway in an industrial area that is perfectly centered for the San Diego, San Clemente and Dana paddle communities to drop off a wounded craft and pick up a shiny repaired one.
There are so many stories that cause us to need a repair. Ranging from getting caught in the rocks after surfing your canoe at your local jetty ("you should have seen the awesome wave though!", to getting t-boned by a backyard fence post as you transport your canoe to the car ("I swear it came out of nowhere!"). And everything in between.
At the time we were in there, it was after the Gorge Downwind Champs. During the week the coconut wireless had spread a story about a paddler who's canoe had been ripped out of the hands by a 30mph gust of wind and wrecked pretty badly. Stuff happens. Thankfully, SoCal has The Wa'a House to give us piece of mind that a quality repair (without adding tons of weight!) is possible. Even a canoe that flew off the roof of a moving vehicle is on the list of saved and repaired craft.
In addition to repairs of severe paddle-craft damage, sometimes we just want to get a few more years out of a loyal craft. Spruce the ole beauty up and make it solid and shiny. Or maybe there is a small collection of dings that have occurred over the years and you want to bring the canoe back to its glory days. The Wa'a House does that too.
For those of you that know me from my articles and Cali Paddler in general, the character of people really matters. It is why we love this sport so much. The few times I have had a chance to interact with Will (and his wife Bobbie) as well as watched him with others, it was clear that each paddler is just as cool as the elite paddlers he trains and races with. Never did I witness an ego or someone too busy to share a wave or beer with. Which, considering Will's resume of paddling and his international network of paddle superstars, is even more awesome to see. Not to mention, he has always been approachable and willing to take the time and your call. Know that when you are at The Wa'a House, you will be with someone who will listen to your paddle stories as much as he will tell them.
From a business standpoint, integrity matters too. So often professionals might see dollar signs with each client who walks in the door. But in my personal experience, when my beloved canoe got its first ding and I freaked out, Will assessed the damage and then shared that it was actually not that bad structurally. And it would be more cost-effective to wait until I had more urgent dings to tackle them at one time. He said he would of course make the repairs, but wanted to make sure I understood my options. Even if it meant turning down work in the short term. Will even worked with me to find a time he would be in my part of town to look over the damage to save me a trip to his shop.
Wait, he does more?
In addition to knowing the ins and outs of canoe repair for just about any model out there, Will is the Southern California Kai Wa'a and Fai Va'a Rudderless V1 rep. So if you are in the market for an Ares, Anteres, Gemini OC2 or Fai3x, he can help you find a great canoe! (Read our interview with Will about paddling rudderless v1 here).
One last thing Will offers, is paddle clinics. Group or one-on-one for technique, or as I had the pleasure to join, a downwind run at the Gorge. Will has a great voice in the canoe that helps even an average-joe like me up their game at reading the water and seeing untapped potential (in the waves and in the stroke). There are many talented paddlers in California that offer clinics to improve our abilities. Definitely include Will Reichenstein on this list. Weeks later I am still applying the tips he shared with me in various situations like he was in the canoe with me.
Magic takes time.
No place is perfect and as you can imagine, working on your craft with quality attention takes time. If there is anything we want to stress if you need a Wa'a House repair, is to account for time. At this time there is only so much Will to go around, so his ability to take on your project may require some patience. We suggest you reach out to him with a description of the project, send some pics or arrange maybe to see in person. And then be willing to work with his schedule to take it on. After all, we need to make sure Will still gets his water time so he can continue being one of the fastest and most stoked paddlers in the state.
So, after having experienced the shop, and talked to several other paddlers who have brought in their OC1s, OC2s, and even an OC6 to be brought back to life, we would encourage you to give The Wa'a House a chance on your next craft repair. You will be supporting a fellow paddling couple, who has done a lot to make our community better. And will take amazing care of your craft!
The Wa'a House
326 Via Del Norte
Oceanside, California 92058
p.s. Stand-by for more exciting announcements of how The Wa'a House will be connecting the paddle community to great products. Some pretty exciting things happening