OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Jeremy Louie

The following submission was made as an entry to win a OC1 from an amazingly generous donor, who wanted to see the canoe truly enjoyed, rather than turn a profit. Entrants were asked to submit an essay answering the following:

  • Part 1: “Describe how paddling has changed your life.”
  • Part 2: “How do you plan to use this canoe, and perhaps someday pass it along?”

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Jeremy Louie, California

As I quickly surfaced the ocean waters, I gasped for air. I was disoriented, afraid, and barely holding onto life. From a distance, I could see our capsized outrigger canoe. And although I managed to swim towards the boat’s iako despite the unforgiving current, I was at a loss as to what to do next. No one on our crew knew what to do in the event of a huli, and we ended up drifting in the middle of Marin County without a clue as to what to do next.

In the end, our coach braved the freezing waters to help overturn our canoe. Practice was ultimately cut short, and all crews decided to head home. But even after drying up on shore, I was largely unnerved. My hands continued to quiver, and I found myself rapidly downing coffee as a method of coping. I felt largely guilty for putting my crew in danger because, given that I was seated at seat two, I was partly responsible for saving the ama in the event of a huli. I continued to guilt myself for several days, and even hesitated to attend the following practice because I didn’t want to place another crew in danger again.

Throughout the week, however, I realized that pinpointing every mistake during that day reflected my refusal to accept the past. I was placing necessarily excessive guilt on myself – even if it was my fault – on things that I could not otherwise change. As a result, the fear of what may happen dissuaded me from returning to what I used to love, that is paddling.

In the end, I eventually ended up attending the following practice. To my surprise, I was warmly welcomed. When I returned to the water, I was admittedly a bit scared. But after getting a few strokes in, all the stress I had previously accumulated dissipated. Ironically, my first huli experience had nearly discouraged me from the one stress outlet that was necessary for me to move on.

Ultimately my first huli experience was more illuminating, if anything. I learned that what did happen in the past is beyond our control. Additionally, I realized that the past should be used as a tool to fix mistakes rather than fear them. Above all, my first huli experience provided the contrast needed for me to realize how much I truly love paddling.

I hope, given the opportunity to have access to an OC1, that I help ignite that passion for paddling in other athletes alike – particular on my current dragon boat team, San Francisco Dragon Warriors (DW). Having originally come from a dragon boat background as opposed to outrigger canoe, I truly want dragon boat paddlers to experience the difference in being an outrigger canoe. The ability to surf waves, catch swells, and even huli are all things that dragon boat paddlers do not often experience. And I believe that those other factors to consider are what may be enough to re-lit that passion for paddling. With that said, my plans for the OC1 are not so much use it for myself but rather give it back to the paddling community for those who may need it more. I hope that in doing so that I can popularize the sport, even if it’s only among my own dragon boat team, because it may be the one stress outlet for others – much like how it was for me. I know for a fact that, given how many other passionate paddlers there are on DW, that the OC1 will continue to be in good hands.


My name is Jeremy, and I’ve been paddling for over four years now! I actually owe paddling for several great memories I’ve made over the years, ranging from ranging
from being the third best youth team in the Bay Area to Secret Santa’s at our team’s house. More recently, I actually just started outrigger canoeing in order to try other
aspects of paddling.

Outside of paddling, I will be attending UCLA has a Mathematics of Computation major this upcoming fall quarter. I also enjoy portrait photography, and I hope to do
wedding or journalism photography as a small side career while on campus. I’m also an avid powerlifter, which is a strength sport where you lift maximally in the squat, bench, and deadlift. I occasionally volunteer to coach other powerlifters as well as a way to give back to the community. In the future, I plan on competing and hopefully medalling at California State Championships in my weight class.

For the future, I definitely plan on paddling at UCLA – both on the campus’ dragon boat team and perhaps even Lanakila Outrigger Canoe. If given the opportunity, I would like to coach for UCLA Dragon Boat. I would also like to continue to popularize the sport by producing works of media for paddling – whether it’s making cinematic race day or even promotional videos.


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