Paddle Articles

SoCal Winter Series Preview - La Jolla Invitational

SoCal Winter Race Series
This series of race previews is an 'unaffiliated' effort to share experiences from each of the races that comprise Southern California's Winter Series of Races for OC1, OC2, Surf-Ski, SUP and Prone Paddlers. - This week we spotlight the La Jolla Invitational! All ocean. Beach Launch. A great opportunity for those first timers wanting to try oc1, surfski, prone or sup.
And be sure to check back for other race previews as they come up this winter. Gonna be a fun season! NorCal, if anyone is interested in contributing similar paddle and race previews, we'd love to team up!

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CP Explorations - Monterey to Morro Bay

Monterey to Morro BayJoin us on a Cali Paddler Exploration journey along the Big Sur Coastline. 4 day, 120 miles from Monterey to Morro Bay. From socked in fog, to gorgeous sunny days. Hillsides, cliffs, dolphins and sea otters. Helpful tailwinds to horrible up-winds. And a finish for the ages!

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CP Review - SharkBanz Shark Deterrent Band

Shark Banz Review
Sea-life is something I love. Including sharks! My respect for sharks and their importance of our ocean balance goes hand-in-hand with me being in their home when I paddle. So the last think I want to do is disrupt their habitat or harm their ability to thrive. So when I heard about SharkBanz I was interested to learn more. Their goals are to "develop simple, effective and affordable strategies to reduce the risk of a shark bite".

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CP Spotlight - The Wa'a House and Will Reichenstein

CP Spotlight - The Wa'a House

[ 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.

Wa'a House Shop

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.

Puakea Designs Kahele Repair

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.

Outrigger Canoe Repair

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.

Outrigger Canoe Restoration

Will Himself

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.

Will Reichenstein Wa'a House Rudder Cable Repair

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.

Wa'a House Collage

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
(949) 701-8647

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

Cali Paddler Puffy Vest

Why Change Season is Outrigger's Best Paddle Time!

Change Season Outrigger CanoeChange season. 9-man season. Whatever you call this amazing time of year for outrigger paddles, it marks the best part of the season in our opinion. And so we wanted to express our enthusiasm for all of you entering in to the dungeon of awesome because this part of the year is what truly makes you a bad-ass paddler.

Why? Because everything is fluid and you have to adapt and overcome. Traits that the best paddlers find themselves able to do. You have to be a pro out there and roll with whatever happens. What you might ask it so unique vs. sprints or long distance season? What makes it so fluid? Glad you asked!

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OC1 Essay Contest - How Has Paddling Changed Your Life?

How has paddling changed your life?

Winner Announcement:

Please watch the video above to understand the true depth of this gift. And the legacy it leaves. That said, It is a great honor to announce the winner. We were so blown away by the entries. We read each one, and voted with multiple judges, but we all but agreed it was very difficult to choose. Every one was beautifully written with talent and heartfelt sincerity. And we felt after each one that that person was certainly worthy in their own way. We encourage you to read these entries and be reminded about how powerful our sport can be, for the mind, the body, and the soul.

Congratulations to Jessica Struble who entered not for herself, but for her unsuspecting mom who she will be giving the canoe to. Jessica saw from her perspective the life-changing impact paddling has had. Truly as generous, selfless and moving as the donors gesture. Read her story here. And then read the others from 6 states, and 2 countries. Some as young as 7 years old. We promise, you will be moved by each and every one.

Original Essay Backstory:

We were recently approached by a VERY generous paddler and friend of CP. They have an OC1 in great condition but she does not paddle it anymore. It is in wonderful shape, but needs someone to make it glide again!

They asked if we knew anyone that would be worthy of being GIVEN the canoe, instead of trying to sell it. As you can imagine, we were blown away by such a generous thought. Immediately we thought how every paddler we knew was pretty awesome. And we know they would all appreciate the gesture. But picking just one would be too hard. So, in partnership with the donor, we decided to create a contest.

Thank you to all the entrants. We invite you to read them ALL below, as they were each moving tributes to a sport we love and the community as a whole. You will be a more grateful paddler learning their stories. We promise.

Choosing a winner was not easy, but involved the donor and Cali Paddler choosing their top three and then assigning points (3-2-1) based on their rank. Then combining results and points to determine the winner.

Essay Requirements:
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?”

Official Posted Rules

  1. Entries must be received no later than Sunday, June 16th, 2019 at 11:59pm PST. To be emailed to
  2. The donor requests that they be given the honor of presenting the canoe.
  3. 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, that they “give” it to the next owner, and make its story known to future owners so they also give it to a deserving paddlers. Cherish, paddle and then pass along!
  4. 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.
  5. Pickup and transportation is the responsibility of the winner. Donor lives in greater San Diego area.
  6. Winner will be contacted directly and announced no later than Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.
  7. Winner entry will be determined based on compelling content, and presentation.
  8. All ages may apply. If under 18, parent/guardian permission and acknowledgment must be provided.

All eligible entries will be mailed a Cali Paddler sticker and $5.00 1-time use discount code to the store (expires December 31, 2019).
About the Prize and Canoe
Package includes:

Huki V1-Z OC-1, Canoe cover, Rooftop transport system, Leash, Cali Paddler hat. (paddle shown in pictures not included)

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)

OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Jessica Struble

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?”

< View all entries


Jessica Struble, California

A Canoe is Worth a Thousand Words

I am meant to describe how paddling has changed my life, and I intend to do that. It may seem strange, but I have never picked up a paddle in my life and somehow I find myself describing it’s life-altering effects. I find that the strongest life alterations are those made through the lives of loved ones. If I am to accurately describe how my life been changed by the sport, I will have to start at my own birth.

When my mother was very young, she fell in love with her high school sweetheart. They were wed, they led a peaceful white-picket life, and they introduced myself and my brother to this beautiful planet. They were married only until I was two years old, and prior to that my older brother was plagued by many sleepless nights as he lay awake listening to their desperate bickering. When I was too young to remember, both found new partners. My dad quickly fell in love with a wonderful woman whom he has retired with, and my mother experimented with her fair share of women. My mother is a wonderful person, but she is insecure, and she is lost. She often feels powerless, and her features are often arranged into a sad, regretful smile. I can see it when she watches me succeed, or when she sees my dad with the love of his life, or when she fails in her own adventures. She has learned to accept powerlessness

That is until she found herself in a canoe. When her current partner Barbie moved here from her tropical Hawaiian paradise, she convinced my mom to have a taste of what Hawaiians do for fun. They joined an outrigger club together and, much like Cinderella and her shoe, the paddle fit. My mom’s whole persona changed, her eyes were brighter than the sun reflecting on the ocean, her arms stronger than any oncoming wave, her skin salty with sweat. And finally--I’m lucky to have been able to see it--she found her power.

She took control of her life in much the same way she could take control of the boat. All of a sudden, she found herself leading, encouraging, pushing toward a better horizon. Her paddle was the key to open countless doors of opportunity. The salty air seemed fresh to her, and the dolphins and whales were better friends than she had ever had. She had described this competition to me in passing, and I have taken it upon myself, with her permission, to bring a little more light to her future. She paddles recreationally, but sometimes it is just not enough. She would paddle in rain or shine, in murky or clear waters, she would slice her way across a frozen lake if it meant she could paddle. The power she finds in paddling is medicinal to her joy. Her joy, in turn, is my joy. I live with her, and I have supported her through the ups and downs of her beautifully flawed life. So here I am, describing to you how amazingly strong the influence of paddling has been, and how it has strengthened my mother to the core. It taught her that when her canoe or her world is turned upside down, she can always get back in again with a little help. I am merely a bystander to this magical growth, but I now realize that I can make a difference in her life

This canoe, if I win it, will go to my unsuspecting mother.  If it ever comes time to part with the canoe, I will personally make sure that the new owner can see the magic as well as my mom could. She does not know that I plan on giving her the canoe, and I believe that the surprise will not only inspire her to focus on her personal growth, but also to share in her joy. She had always wanted to paddle with family, and now she would have that opportunity. They plan on retiring near a river or lake, that is my mom’s only wish in terms of location. So, with this constant water access, we will be able to take the whole family out. My mom, myself, Barbie, my grandma, my cousins, aunts and uncles, and even my dog buddy. He’s got his own life vest so we could even go swimming in the lake together. We are a water play family, and we would all love the opportunity to paddle together, my mom most of all. It would warm her heart to see me, her daughter, paddling the same boat, experiencing the same beauty which had changed her life.

I would like to take a moment an thank you for this opportunity. I think that this is a wonderful thing you are doing and I sincerely hope that, if it does not go to us, it will go to someone who can find the magic in it as well. We certainly have.


My name is Jessica Struble, I am a seventeen-year-old recent high school graduate who has an aspiration of being an author. My mother is Trisha Struble, and she is a member of the Makaha outrigger club in San Pedro, CA.


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OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Ashlyn Graves

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?”

< View all entries


Ashlyn Graves, California

how has paddling changed my life?
When I  first got my paddle & bord I was so EXIDED .I started paddling it to my heart contentent!!! I also learnd a few things and then some more! Then, WOW!!! Having my own bord and paddling my own bord whith my own paddle changed my life!              
what would i do with this canoe?      
If i
        had the canoe,  i would paddle it ,sooo much! and when i let her, Jamie can have a turn!!! 
i ❤ paddling!!!!


[ editors note: Ashlyn, 7 years old, understood that she would be ineligible to win due to knowing the judges but wanted to write her first essay regardless and share her story. Plus she was very excited to have it posted on the internet. So there ya go!:) ]


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OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Christine Culver

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?”

< View all entries


Christine Culver, Virginia

After 26 years together, and four years looking for an escape hatch, I finally left, driving a busted minivan filled with clothes, photographs, crappy coping mechanisms and not much else. He swore he’d never grant me a divorce.

The guys at work, the combat veterans, said I had PTSD. They knew, because they’d seen it in their fellow Soldiers. The family advocate in the courthouse said the same, and so did my doctor, my OB/GYN, my dentist. Sometimes, when people see damage, they have to find the right way to tell you that your determination and bravery and grit, no matter how useful they were in the worst nights of your life, aren’t always helpful when things calm down. Constant High Alert will get you through, but it’s no way to live. Not forever.

By the time I moved out, I had learned to ignore my body completely. I didn’t notice pain. I didn’t notice exhaustion. I sprained my ankles so many times that they just stayed sprained. I couldn’t really taste my food. Sleep didn’t bring rest. I read about the physical toll of emotional stress. I lived the physical toll of emotional stress.

I shied away from most people. I couldn’t handle being complimented or cared for or touched, usually. I always sat facing the door, just in case.

A weightlifting injury finally sidelined me. Standing, walking, driving - all of it was excruciating. A trip to the grocery store had me crumpled and panting by the time I got back to the car.

I rested, and worked, and went to counseling. I went back to school. I built a new life.

Sometimes, I try things and I don’t know why. Usually, it turns out to be the best thing to do. A few months ago, I joined the DC Dragon Boat Club. I am the only new person on the team, this season.

And I am really new. I’ve never done this before. But with every catch, with every paddle, with every ounce of leg drive, I hear the drumbeat inside my own head: MY boat. MY boat. MY boat. I am going to learn this, because I already love it.

The first few practices, all I did was try to pay attention, and be present in the moment, in my own body. Know where my arms were, in relation to the boat. Know where my hands were on the paddle. Listen to the coach. Watch the paddlers in front of me. Try to keep up. Try not to jump out of my skin if anyone said my name. Push aside my deep conviction that any minute now, they were going to tell me to quit.

I’m still the newest person on the boat. I don’t know what I’m doing. But a few practices ago, the coach walked up to me and moved my arm. “Like this,” he said. Gently, kindly, without a speck of malice, he showed me how to improve my technique. “You’ll get this,” he said. “It just takes time.”

Every practice, I’m learning where my body is, how it’s moving. Afterward, I sit on the dock and review what I heard and saw, and what it felt like. I’m getting better. This month, I’m competing in a beginners race

I wrote this essay because I want more time on the water, reintegrating my body and my mind again. I want to share that calm, physical moment with other survivors of domestic abuse, to reach back and help women who’ve had to shut down their bodies to escape terror at home.


Chris Culver is a technical editor and writer in Northern Virginia, where she lives with her boyfriend. She loves to garden, walk the city streets, help women find their future, and plan her next international trip (See you soon, South Africa!). She’s the least coordinated member of the DC Dragon Boat Club. But, you know, not for long, because deep down, it’s her boat.


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OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Melissa Ulrich

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?”

< View all entries


Melissa Ulrich, California

Looking back on my life, I was very quiet and introspective. Although I wasn't outwardly expressive, it was all deeply internal and came out in my art and writing. I never felt that brave or that strong, and I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I grew up on a farm in Missouri, and I spent my childhood exploring the woods and the pastures and the little creeks around our house, writing stories, drawing, daydreaming, sitting in trees reading books, and snuggling the animals on the farm. I had two favorite places, and both allowed me to be in the midst of life, but not visible: the hayloft in the barn and the tree-house on the wide, rolling lawn facing the pond. Nestled in the arms of the branches, all around me millions of shades of green, my place in the tree was perfect peace.

When we sold the farm and moved to California right after I graduated from high school, I knew I had to keep moving forward. I opened myself to new adventures and did everything that was just scary enough to grow my courage muscles: I joined a swim team my first year in college and later won the California Female Pepsi Scholar Athlete of the Year Award (which only one female junior college athlete can win in California). I then finished my last two years of college at UCLA. I loved the literature courses of my major and graduated with highest honors. The world seemed to open up wider and wider: I studied abroad in Ireland, explored Scotland, England, and Wales, moved to Taiwan and taught English to children for one year, and later moved to Australia for graduate school for two years. Throughout all of this change, I was still searching for where I belonged. Deep down, I longed for a place that was home.

After all of that traveling and school, I ended up in Monterey in 2013. I had my dream job writing and editing educational materials for National Geographic Learning. I spent each Saturday walking along the Rec Trail by the ocean to the library to get my books for the week. One day, I saw it - a beautiful, white canoe gliding out to sea. I immediately felt drawn to it. It was calling to my soul. I went to the next recreational paddle, and I knew that I finally found the sport that thrilled me and woke up parts of me I never knew I had. I joined the Ke Kai O'Uhane Outrigger Canoeing Club and went to every practice and race. Uncle Les taught me how to paddle as one, and how to trust myself and how to trust others; this vulnerability was a good lesson to learn. Coach Dale taught me how to paddle OC1 and encouraged me to keep being brave. Because of that support and training, I won the 2015 OC1 NorCal Sprint Championship. Those first two years as a novice paddler was a magical time of growth for me and it has shaped how I have approached other challenges in my life.

Canoeing helped me bloom in ways I never imagined. I found my voice, my courage, my passion, and my strength out on the water. The same feeling I had as a kid, sitting in the tree while watching storm clouds pile up, running as fast as I could down pasture hills in the warm, spring rain, and watching life from the warmth of the barn -- that same peace of belonging and peace of my true nature -- I finally found again when I would paddle out on the ocean, sit on my SUP or watercraft, and just be. There is a strange wildness in my heart that paddling on the ocean has brought out, or maybe that wildness and savage courage was always there, and was just too shy to come forth. I feel my Viking ancestors in my blood when I paddle down steep waves, chase the horizon, and feel the push and pull of the wind, tangling my hair into knots even as it untangles the knots in my soul.

The anchor that has kept me in Monterey the past five years, throughout various jobs and living situations, has been the ocean and the Ohana I found because of the ocean. Being able to go out on the ocean has been such a blessing. This Ohana is true family and true belonging. Being out on the water is my home. This is how canoeing has changed my life. If I were to win this very generous canoe, I could continue to grow and find my strength out on the water, and I could not think of anything more beautiful than to be able to pass this gift along to someone else who loves and needs the ocean. If I ever won the lottery, or even got a book published so that I could bless someone else with the freedom to get out on the water, I would love to buy my club an Unlimited. :-) The one thing that is always there is the ocean, and this sport draws in people of depth, generosity, and passion. It takes a strong heart to paddle on the ocean.


Melissa Ulrich grew up on a farm in Missouri, but found her true home when she first stepped into an outrigger canoe 5 years ago. She has raced surfski, SUP, OC1, and OC6. In her spare time, she likes to be creative by composing music, writing poetry, and painting. Someday, she hopes to get her children's books published.


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