A Few of My Favorite Things
If your family exchanges gifts for the holidays, your loved ones may be struggling with finding great paddling-oriented gifts. With the help of some paddling friends, I compiled a list of favorite gifts for dragon boaters. Hint: share this list with your family so they know exactly what you’d like this season. Happy Holidays!
1) A lightweight, carbon fiber paddle with tons of designs to choose from, Hornet Paddle designs are printed directly on the carbon fiber and you can even create your own design!
2) The Dragon Saddle is not only the most comfortable way to protect your posterior, it also comes in tons of groovy colors to help express your personality.
3) A pair of Hydroskin paddling pants from NRS for cold weather are the most amazing pants made of Terraprene (a neoprene material) that will keep your legs warm and happy while paddling.
4) What paddler doesn’t want amazing footage of that victorious moment when you crossed the finish line ahead of all the other teams? Bob Mina, Team USA paddler and film-maker extraordinaire, always has his Go Pro camera and camera mounts with him and makes the most amazing movies we all treasure. Those who already own a GoPro will still be quite happy with any of the multitude of mounts and accessories available for the camera.
5) A lightweight, portable chair is a great way to rest in between heats at races. There can be a lot of downtime on race day, but who wants to lug around a heavy chair? This fantastic chair is sturdy enough to hold you, but light enough to make that gold medal seem heavy.
6) I love the Volcom brand long-sleeved, UV protection jersey. They are lightweight, yet they offer 50+ SPF in the fabric. I wore mine while paddling three days through the Panama Canal and it kept me cool and sunburn-free.
7) A paddle bag is a great way to protect your blade. Full paddle bags and basic blade covers are available, each with their own benefits. Some prefer the full bag as it comes with a strap to free up your hands when carrying all your gear to a race site. Others prefer the minimalist approach to a simple blade cover and, as one paddler suggested, you can stuff it with a light jacket and use it as a pillow for power naps between heats. ContactHornet Watersports to order yours.
8) With polarized lenses, a built-in headstrap you can adjust with one hand, and lightweight frames that float, you really can’t go wrong with a pair of Sea Specs sunglasses. I’ve been wearing Sea Specs for over 4 years and I love them.
7) It’s important to keep those feet warm while paddling with a pair of neoprene booties for that cold weather. Water inevitably ends up in the bottom of the boat and when it’s cold, that can be really uncomfortable. These boots keep your feet nice and toasty.
8) And why not add a pair of paddling gloves for cold spring mornings? NRS makes a pair of gloves that have excellent insulation and flexibility with their own HydroCuff to keep water out and warmth in.
9) While you’re considering keeping out the wet and cold, a paddling jacket will keep you warm and dry at the beginning of the season.
10) What dragon boater couldn’t use an excellent sports massage? All those knots and kinks need to be worked out and now is the perfect time to do it. There are so many benefits to massage!
11) Most races that do require PFDs now allow the inflatable PFDs (personal floatation devices), so many paddlers are abandoning their old, heavy lifevests in favor of the lightweight belt packs that don’t get in your way when you paddle.
12) Team membership fees. Having your team membership fees covered for the year is a wonderful treat.
13) A teammate of mine introduced me to these Nuun electrolyte tabs a few months ago when I was dehydrated at the San Francisco race. I had flown across the country and was already dehydrated from the flight, then a day in the hot California sun and dry climate didn’t help. Thankfully, these tablets certainly did their job and I was back to feeling strong in no time.
14) When all the paddles start to look alike, it’s nice to easily know which one is yours with a custom name decal for your paddle. Have your name made into a decal in the font you choose and slap that onto your paddle so your teammates don’t run home with it.
15) You know that annoying sound on the boat when a water bottle goes rolling around? Or when it bounces back and forth with every stroke and surge of the boat? You can avoid ticking off your teammates with a Platypus water bottle that won’t clank around in the boat, packs up small and is super lightweight.
16) I swear by Rock tape. I’ve had multiple shoulder injuries and, more recently, a sprained wrist. Rock tape has been a lifesaver and has kept me paddling. I am actually known for wearing this tape. In fact, fellow Team USA paddler Kevin McFadden jokingly mocked me in a team skit in 2011 by wearing masking tape over nearly all of his body. What can I say? It helps!
17) We are out on the water in the hot sun most of the time. Obviously we need large quantities of sunscreen. I love Avasol. No toxic chemicals means it’s good for you AND the environment. And with a biodegradable tube, you really can’t go wrong.
18) A waterproof bag for your smartphone. Not that you’d be accepting a business call during practice, but it’s nice to have your phone on board. Who knows when you want to snap a photo of that amazing sunrise or that leaping dolphin? It’s also a good idea to have a phone in case of an emergency. This pouch is a great way to protect your precious smartphone from water. However, it is important to remember that although this pouch makes your phone waterproof, it is not sink-proof. It will still sink to the bottom of the ocean/river/lake faster than you can say “paddles up,” so consider buying a floaty to attach to it.
19) Stonyboater Dragon Wax is made of mostly beeswax, has a high tolerance for heat and also works well in colder water. It’s a great way to keep a strong grip on your paddle.
20) Another way to ensure a strong grip on your paddle, Gorilla Gold is a sticky rag that golfers use with their clubs. Just rub the rag between your hands and/or on the shaft and handle of your paddle and you’ll have a solid, slip-free grip.
And, of course (shameless plug here!), if all else fails a paddlechica tank top, shirt or sweatshirt is always a fabulous gift!
A big thank you to all the paddlers who contributed ideas for this blog post: Suzi Cloutier, Julie Deters, Aimee Edwards, LiLin Gaab, Raquel Gonzalez Riano, Megan Kress, Margie Kron, Gary Langhans, Lis Leist, Laura Maxwell McGinnis, Bob McNamara, Bob Mina, Jim Morris, John Murillo, Aixa Ramos, Emilia Rastrick, Luz Ross, Sonali Singh, Leah Varga, Paul Verscheure, Wojtek Wasilewski, Susan Weinand, Thomas Yoo, Charisse Yudin, and Richard Yudin.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Kristin Stickels is a three-time Team USA member of the US National Dragon Boat Racing Team. She is the coach of the Miami team Puff, the Florida Tarpons women's team and the local Breast Cancer Survivors' Team (SOS).
She is also an avid outrigger canoe paddler and raced through the Panama Canal on a native cayuco boat from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Found out more about Hornet paddles at www.hornetwatersports.com