Weekend Wanderer

Wandering the Weekends in California and beyond



Santa Barbara Rig Run 2013

Photo by Chris Silvester

The morning start off at 3:15 am when Bruce and I left the house (our roommates were just going to sleep) and headed up to Santa Barbara with Maddie and Jimi. Reef Runner in tow. We arrived in Santa Barbara two and a half hours later. Looking at the VERY still palm trees and feeling the non existent wind, I braced myself for another flat race.

We didn’t have any kids from the NAC race in the short course, we only had one boat racing in the long course. Three boys , three girls…they absolutely killed it! Even beating the NAC women’s crew that was out there that day by a boat length! Daniella, Kylie, Meghan, Cade, Ian and Liam all had a great time and together it was one of their best races. I get so happy when I see the kids I coach succeed. It’s an silent fist pump when I see them on the course!


It helped that it was probably the BEST downwind we had had all season. I can easily say that this was one of the best races I’ve done in Southern California! The downwind portion was perfectly lined up (thank you Billy Whitford!) and our crew kept it hot! The girls stayed positive the entire time and we RAN. There was about 70 crews in the women’s race that day. The water was perfect, the wind was perfect and the temperature was perfect. I love racing with the girls, and hottin and hollerin at the other crews around us. We are all a big group of sister paddlers all out wanting to do the same thing…BEAT EACHOTHER! The intensity is brought up when passing another crew, the excitement is through the roof when you can feel that swell pushing the back of your canoe and the POWER is so great when everyone is working together; I can’t think of a better feeling right now.


NAC Mens second boat steered by Bruce Schwartz photo credit Chris Silvester
NAC Mens first crew photo credit Chris Silvester

Even though the top mens crew of NAC started late (200 yards behind the start line) they still finished third across the line, out of about 65 boats! My boyfriend Bruce steered a strong group of men in the second boat around all the turns. They had a strong second crew and help their own towards front of the pack! The third boat had a paddler not show up so I stepped in and steered back to back races that day. A good 22 miles seemed like a good idea at the time. I get 5 miles into the first race and i’m like “THIS IS GUNNA HURT”. All in all it was a great day in Santa Barbara! You can’t complain with waves like that! A sun beaming down on you and all your friends around!

Marina Del Rey here we come!

instagram: KelThompson
Twitter: @KelThomp

Kauai World Challenge

I spent an amazing weekend in Kauai this past weekend…

with 10 teenagers.


Here’s how it went down. We flew over Thursday night, cruised Friday, raced Saturday and explored Sunday. THEN FLEW HOME.


“The Kauai World Challenge is the most unique long-distance race on Earth. The stunning Garden Island scenery and consistent downwind bump-running course is one draw, but another big attraction is that at 33+ miles long, the Kauai World Challenge can be paddled and enjoyed without the need for escort boats. As a relay race, contestants shuttle from one leg to the next by car instead of having to spend the day wallowing on an exhaust-wreathed boat. The four legs of this year’s Kauai World Challenge begin at the following beaches:

Kapaa, first leg 6.3 miles

Hanamaulu, second leg 5 miles

Kalapaki, third leg 10.7 miles

Poipu, fourth leg 10.6 miles

Finish at Salt Pond in Hanapepe.”

We took 4 teams, and Kamanu Composites graciously helped us out with getting canoes for all the kids! We had three oc1 boys crews and a two man girls crew. These kids were they ONLY juniors in the junior divisions in this race.



IMG_2167IMG_2162This race was put on flawlessly, the safety committee did a great job.

The juniors were tired.

The juniors were hurting.

The juniors raced.

The juniors finished.

The conditions were not ideal, however the kids made the best out of it. They caught the bumps they could, and worked hard when they needed to. The ten mile stretches were rough patches, but the teams fought on; pushing to the end.

The NAC Jr Team was a crowd favorite on the beach. The kids did a great job representing their home club, and making NAC look good. They all finished the race in great time, proving that they weren’t just any regular junior team form California.

It’s a race to remember.


We took the kids to the Waimea lookout. IMG_2283

Within those three days, we fit a lot of activities in. The race was all day Saturday, but Friday we hiked, swam and body surfed. We took them to the “Queens Bath” which is on the North Side of the island in Princeville (where we stayed).

IMG_2293Until our next adventure…


Instagram: @KelThompson
Twitter: KelThomp

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