This is James Dunbar, my wife and I did a small boat coaching session with you a few months ago on Easter weekend. You taught us how to surf, read waves, and generally paddle better in bigger water. That coaching really paid off last weekend -- I just did a 20-mile race in Massachusetts called the Blackburn Challenge where I was neck-and-neck with another paddler for 19 of those miles. I was only able to pull it out in the last mile by catching a series of big bumps that he couldn't, which allowed me to snag 1st place. I don't think I would have been able to pull that off without the time we spent with you. Getting first at this race has been my goal since the start of our paddling season, so just wanted to say big thanks for helping make that a reality for me.
As our plane was climbing out of Honolulu, Barbara and I were looking out the portside window at Waikiki and Diamond Head. Then—as the coast turned northwards, we spotted the Mokuluas. What a big old flood of memories.
We will never forget our week in Kailua—and the great adventures you led us through. At the outset, my hope was that Barbara would get some professional coaching—mostly to make her safe on the cold waters here in California. You gave her more than I could have hoped for.
By the time our week was finished, I was hugely relieved at her ability to self-rescue and to feel more comfortable in the canoe. But you also helped refine her stroke and in working with her in the double, gave her the experience of how to brace an OC2 racing through breaking surf. I have a vivid picture of the two of you plunging through the surf at Flat Island—with her bracing as you flew the ama. Couldn’t be better.
Beyond all of that, she so enjoyed being out there, having fun, and becoming a paddler—thanks to you and the great Pete Binney.
For me, I learned more in five days than I have in my last two years of watching YouTubes, reading books, and tentatively paddling out of Santa Cruz Harbor wondering if I knew what I was doing.
I learned a huge amount. Learning how to catch waves correctly and having the thrill of seeing my canoe diving forward and riding waves will stay with me forever. My day with Pete outside the Mokes in the bigger water was at first, kind of startling. (That was big water for moi.) But learning how to ride ocean swells and especially finding out that I could easily self-rescue in large waves, has opened some doors of confidence for me. That’s pretty big. Paddling outside Santa Cruz Harbor has often been a little daunting for me. Now, I feel like I can read the conditions with a lot more knowledge and have a better understanding of how to keep improving as a paddler. (And thanks to you, how to keep it fun.)
Barbara and I have been married for going on 40 years and have done a lot together. This week working with you and Pete was a real keeper. Thank you so much. Barbara and I were impressed that you treated us more like family and friends than clients. Never for one moment did it feel like you were mailing this in. You were really there for us. Thank you.
MAY YOU BE HAPPY
MAY YOU BE WELL
Jocko (and Barbara)