Who's Your Favorite Paddling Partner and Why? 17 Women Share


In last month’s newsletter (sign up on our home page) we asked recipients to tell us about their favorite paddling partner and why, to enter into our monthly gear raffle. The 5 raffle winners won two Vapur water bottles and 10 packets of the wonderful Emergen-C Vitamin Supplements. The entrants all spoke of supportive, fun, inspiring people who keep getting them out there and make their paddling experience better. Thank goodness for these adventurous guys and gals! It is great to honor these people and to think, you’ve probably inspired someone else on the water if you know it or not. Read on to see if you or a friend was mentioned. They are in no particular order.


Blake Holland is my favorite kayaking buddy because he is my friend, a good teacher and has helped me accomplish so much in a short amount of time. For example, he encouraged me to go down the falls, where I was able to overcome my fear of swimming, and get my combat roll on the Nantahala. Recently, Blake helped me progress to running class III whitewater, Pigeon River. On the Pigeon, Blake refocused me (my mental game) when things didn’t go as planned. It was then that I discovered that I can be aggressive and punch through bigger waves.

Even after a long work day, Blake never refuses to help me practice. He will stand in the swimming pool, deliberately flip me over in my kayak and help me find confidence in my roll. In the same hour, he will act like an obstacle cone and let me carve a turn around him. After a few goes, when I feel like my draw stroke is decent, and I think he’s bored watching me, I’ll hear him say, “Your forward stroke is not excellent.” Listening to this, I know he’s my favorite kayaking buddy because he’s honest, pushing me to pay attention to the small details, while at the same time making kayaking fun and inspiring me to achieve my goals. // By Karissa Stewart
My best paddling partner is Katie. She and I have gone on so many excellent adventures together. We always enjoy the beauty of the water and mountains. Love seeing eagles soaring above us and feeling the adrenaline when we hear big water ahead. She always has a smile on her face and we giggle like kids when we are together! // By Megan Searl
My favorite paddling buddy is Ingrid. She is fun and inspiring because:
-She is always smiling. Happiness is inspiring.
-She doesn’t get to paddle as often as I do but is still confident on more challenging moves
-She always is there for me for my safety even if it means waiting while I attempt surfing over and over again. It is great for inspiring me to learn new moves when I have safety and encouragement, with no pressure of being too slow and needing to get down stream.
-She is confident in my skills. Having someone trust your skills is very inspiring.
// By Laura Zeafla


My favorite paddling buddy is my husband. We had just moved to Asheville when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a huge shock! Once I healed from surgery, was done with chemo and was starting radiation treatments, we would hit the French Broad every Friday afternoon. By this time in my treatment I was over it all and a mess. It was the only therapy we could afford! I can’t thank him enough for taking me out for water therapy and helping me (and him!) clear our minds. // By Brynn Barale


Cat- she always has my back and never makes me do anything I don’t want but always manages to make me gentle push the edges of my comfort zone each time I paddle with her. // By Heather
My favorite paddling buddy is Nigel…..he inspired me to get into a white water boat, continues to encourage me, and provides opportunities to grab time on the water.  He also helps me with getting the boat over rough terrain& into the water! // By Sue Stackhouse


My favorite paddling buddy is me – I just got a SUP and don’t have anyone else to go out and play with, so I go by myself. Always have a good time and meet and talk to other people. Would be nice to have others to paddle with, but for now this makes me happy. // By Marcia Stanton


I can’t pick one person I have paddled with that inspires me…every person I spend time with on the river brings new skills and fun to boating for me. // By Gina Brown


My favorite paddling buddy is my boyfriend, Andrew, because he’s tons of fun to watch! He plays in every wave, tries to boof every boulder and always wears a smile on the river! // By Katy Joy


My fav paddling buddy is Darren as he makes me laugh and pushes my to try new things! // By Krista Hughes


My favorite paddle buddy is Mrs. P! She inspires me to be better person. I think she’s a BA and still get awed by the way she glides effortless across the water. Most of all being there for each other when the river reminds you to be humble. // By Jennifer Sockwell


Rod Hunter is my favorite paddling buddy because he challenges me. We make it fun for each other. We try until failure & than we get to test our roll. ;o) My skills & confidence has increased a lot. He told someone “she’s not the same paddler anymore” that made me smile big. // By Ruth Steel


Even though I don’t get to paddle with her very often, Nora Whitmore gets my vote for best local paddling buddy. Nora didn’t start WW Kayaking till she was in her late 40’s and quickly found that she loved it. She set herself a goal of becoming a proficient play-boater by age 50. We’ve had a few discussions about getting “old-ladied” in courses and the paddling community in general and how discouraging it can be, and how difficult that makes it to get the information and input needed in order to progress. Not one to let other’s attitudes get in her way, Nora has far surpassed her original goal and consistently inspires others in starting their whitewater lives. She’s gone on to become an ACA certified instructor, teaches with our local club, and goes out of her way to mentor, encourage, and all around back up new paddlers, regardless of their background. It seems like anytime I make it the local play spot, Nora has someone new there and has completely outfitted them with gear and is helping ignite another new whitewater passion. If they want to paddle – Nora is there for them! Of course, a lot of these paddlers are good looking young guys! It’s a sure bet that she doesn’t get old-ladied anymore. // By Natalie Griffith


My favourite paddling partner is my boyfriend Mike. He inspires me because he is a sponsored paddler which makes me want to improve my kayaking so that someday I can paddle all the rivers he does instead of just being the photographer. I am a beginner to whitewater and it helps to have someone so supportive and encouraging to paddle with. He is my best friend and my best paddling partner. // By Michelle Eady


My favorite paddling buddy is my friend Matt because whether I feel like taking it easy or challenging myself, I get 100 percent support from him and zero judgement. // By Marsea Nelson


My favorite paddling buddy is my sweet husband, Chris. He continues to support and helps me grow as a paddler every single time we are on the river together. He is so patient with me and is constantly cheering me on when I am surfing, taking a killer boof, rolling or even with my Olympic swims. 😉 I am so fortunate to have my best friend and husband as the best paddling partner. // By Heather Woodward


My favorite stand up paddle buddy is my dear friend Danny Mongno.  He taught me how to SUP 3 yrs ago and I was hooked. This Spring I launched Southern Tier Stand Up Paddle Corp. And I feel his encouragement to embrace this sport was my inspiration. Though I must say, he is always on the road so I am lucky if we get to meet up twice a year. He is still my biggest inspiration!!! // By Tina Fetten

If you’re interested in making some new paddling friends, join us for one of our women’s whitewater kayaking clinics or better yet, spend a week in Costa Rica with some amazing ladies. You’re bound to build friendships there.