Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 16, 2012

Paddle With Style

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

This morning, my friend Doyle and I drove to TG Canoes and Kayaks in San Marcos, Texas to pick up our brand new safari-rigged Alumacraft canoe. This is the boat we will use to compete in the 2013 Texas Water Safari, the world’s toughest canoe race. Perhaps the word compete is a bit strong. Doyle and I will participate in the race with the hope of making it to the finish line in less than the 100-hour time limit. We chose to do the race in an aluminum canoe because we are still in the ranks of novice canoeists and an aluminum canoe is rugged enough to take the punishment that this 260-mile race dishes out. But, as long as we keep paddling, we can make it to the finish line in this boat.

Veteran safari racer Tom Goynes made the spray skirt and sleep sling that we will use on the race. Tom competed in his first water safari in 1968 when I was just 12 years old and Doyle was 8 years old. He is a highly respected multi-safari finisher and a really nice guy. The last five miles of the race are across open water from the mouth of the Guadalupe River across San Antonio Bay to the finish line at Seadrift, Texas. A spray skirt is essential for keeping water out of the boat on this open water crossing. The sleep sling is a convenience that will allow one of us at a time to take a nap while the other keeps paddling. This way we can get some rest along the way without having to stop. Movement means progress on this race.

Doyle and Tom snapping in the sleep sling on our new canoe.

Saying goodbye to Tom and heading off to meet Holly Orr for our first lesson.

Doyle and I also had our first paddling lesson on the San Marcos River this morning with Holly Orr (a great name for a paddling instructor) of Paddle with Style. Holly is also a multi-safari finisher and is a respected paddling instructor. She gave us some great advice and helped us to work on our basic paddling strokes. Doyle and I could tell the difference in our paddling after our almost two-hour lesson with Holly. After our lesson we spent another hour on the water practicing what we had learned. It’s amazing the difference that good instruction can make. We still have a lot of work to do to perfect our technique but we made a lot of progress today and can’t wait for our next training run in two weeks. After today, we have fourteen more training runs scheduled before the Texas Water Safari next June. If we expect to paddle with style and make it to the finish line next June, then we must pay the price one training run at a time. Now that we have our own boat and have finished our first lesson, we are more excited than ever about the great adventure ahead of us. I’ll keep you posted on our progress throughout the coming months. Thanks for following our journey.


  1. I was swept up in the excitement of following you and Jonathan in theTWS 2012! Following your movement on Spot-Tracker, posting video on Facebook to keep friends updated on your progess, staying up until 3am on that last night/morning texting and calling Niki and Cheryl to find out what they knew of your whereabouts when Spot-Tracker showed no movement for hours and finally praying for safety. I learned quickly that it’s not called the world’s toughest canoe race for nothing.

    I’m excited to follow the journey that leads two friends to compete in and complete the TWS 2013.

    • Thanks for following our journey last year. It was the experience of a lifetime to reach the finish line with Jonathan. Looking forward to crossing the finish line once again in 2013. Doyle and I are excited about sharing this adventure.

  2. That canoe needs a name…. Dos Amigos?

    • Hmmm … sounds like a possibility! Thanks.

  3. So excited to follow again–& was so thankful for Niki & Amy’s updates last year!! I’m on the edge of my seat to hear the name of this canoe!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Kristin. Hope to settle on a name for our boat very soon. Thanks for following our adventure.

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