Monday, May 9, 2016

Norm Hann Joins Nikki Rekman Sales Team and Kokatat Global Ambassador Team

At Nikki Rekman Sales we have the privilege of meeting and working with some of the industry’s best ambassadors and Norm Hann is one of those people. I can’t remember the first time I met Norm, I think most likely in the early days of the Kal Classic. (Hosted by Werner Paddles FIRST land-locked stand up paddle dealer, Kalavida Surf Shop). He had already started his Standup 4 Great Bear conservation initiative and the documentary, STAND was filmed (you can view it here) and EVERYBODY knew Norm and his red shorts (part of his SUP race attire). 

I have wanted to work with Norm since this time and in early 2016 the stars aligned. Kokatat announced that Norm would be a part of our team as a Global Ambassador. The fit is perfect. Norm is a person of high integrity and loyalty. He also has a desire to paddle safely, comfortably and most importantly stay dry. As an instructor and guide, Norm needs to have the best gear possible whether he is touring up in the Great Bear Rainforest or Belize, introducing folks to river SUP on his home river in Squamish, the Mamquam or making his morning coffee run down Howe Sound.

Norm’s Kokatat gear list is as follows:

PFD – touring – Orbit Tour/river – Maximus Centurion
Insulation - Woolcore
Paddling Suit – Goretex Surge Paddling Suit

*his much loved red shorts have been replaced with the Men’s Destination Surf Trunk

If you are lucky enough to take some instruction from Norm ask him about his gear and why he trusts Kokatat. I could tell you why I do but I’m not as cool as Norm.

Norm, thanks for being a part of the Nikki Rekman Sales team and the Kokatat family. We are thrilled to have you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Yukon River - Prepping for the Adventure

Anyone that knows us, knows that March is the start of the busy season for us, April is crazy and well after that it's full on and there is never a dull moment until our last event at the end of October. This April has been particularly busy with phone calls, emails, dealer visits, clinics, community river cleanups and a LOT of prep.

In June we will be living, working and playing remotely in the Yukon. We couldn't be more excited but the work that needs to be done before our departure is epic. This is because we have such a variety of things that we will be doing that month, clinics, a 2 week canoe trip and our involvement in the Yukon River Quest as a support team for World Champion, SUP paddler and new Mom, Lina Augaitis and film-maker, conservationist and SUP explorer, Norm Hann.

I thought it would be fun to show you a little bit of the prep for the canoe trip. We will be paddling from Whitehorse to Dawson City, 735 km over 15 days. This is the same route our friends, Lina and Norm will paddle in probably less than 3 days!!!

We have had paddling adventures all of the world, Grand Canyon, Antarctica, South Georgia, Green River, British Columbia's West Coast and more but none have been this long in duration or distance.Out came the dehydrator, the Excalibur (recommended by our late friend, Pat Peacock - the Queen of camp cooking!) and it's been running quite a bit the last couple of weeks.

Purchased on line from Green Health Canada

In the photo below you can see a little of what we have dehydrated.

bananas, apples, red/yellow/orange peppers, jalapenos, cabbage, leeks. The black beans and pinto beans we purchased from a great shop in Victoria called, Lifestyle Market
The menu has been made, a lot of the food has been purchased and now it is time to switch over to gear organization. I will save those details for another blogpost.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thrills and Spills: Cowichan River Youth Kayak Fest 2016

Big thanks to Liam B. Ellis (Class of 2016 at Brentwood College) for this awesome write up on the Cowichan River Youth Kayak Fest (CRYK) held on Vancouver Island recently. (previously posted on the Brentwood College blog)

Spring’s sunny weather heralded the arrival of the annual Crykfest, an unforgettable whitewater kayaking and camping festival at Skutz Falls, Cowichan Lake. Organized by ODP Head Mr. Norman, the event was attended by students from across the province, from Nanaimo to Chilliwack to Mill Bay. Seasoned paddlers and beginners alike, our Outdoor Pursuits team used this opportunity to break through the Brentwood bubble and make connections with fellow BC students and the natural world.

On Friday, we were bused to Horseshoe Bend campsite to set up our tents before heading to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, where we launched our kayaks into the swimming pool to get accustomed to rolling upright from a capsized position. Saturday was the first day our kayaks were moistened by the mighty Cowichan River. We set off from Duck Pond, a relatively calm stretch of the river, and worked on “eddying out” and proper paddling technique. Our muscles grew weary as our bipedal bodies adapted to incorporate large plastic vessels onto our torsos, but the idyllic wild beauty of the river inspired us. That night we ate supper around a campfire, swapping riddles and singing loud, repetitive campfire songs as we sipped our hot chocolates. 

We got our first taste of whitewater (both figuratively and literally) on Sunday, as we paddled through a more daunting section of the river. I found myself inverted and careening downstream on more than one occasion. Our wet suits proved their worth as we battled rollicking rapids and feisty back-currents. Finally, all of our small groups joined forces for a final run as we barreled down the Cowichan as one unit. At the end of an adrenaline-fueled day, we packed up our tents and cooking gear to head back to the mundane realities of overdue homework and sinusoidal wave calculations.

Mr. (Dan) Norman talking to the crew!

Our friend and local Chilliwack paddler, Darcy Wilkins

Thanks to Joe K. Whittal for the photo

Happy winner of the Kokatat Maximus PFD! THANKS KOKATAT!

Crykfest is a fantastic way to flee the glow of computer screens and the pressures of humdrum everyday existence. For a moment, nothing matters but you, the river, and your battle against nature in a tiny plastic boat.

Liam B, Ellis ‘16

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Werner Grand Prix Review

Welcome to our guest blogger, Werner Team Paddler, Mike Darbyshire.

After hearing about the changes to Werner Paddles SUP linefor 2016 I was eager to get the paddles into my hands and into the water.  I placed my pre-order at the end of last year for 3 new paddles to replace my current paddles and so far I have not been disappointed!

Werner has always staked their reputation on making the highest quality paddles that perform at a high level. 

Hand-crafted in Sultan Washington, their paddles have for a long time been the standard in kayak paddle quality and performance.  This quality and performance is maintained through their SUP line and my favourite part is the design that goes into making specific paddles for specific uses.  

A wise man once told me that the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to outdoor gear usually means you are going to get the worst of all worlds.  While this isn’t always true, a paddle that ‘does it all’ will likely ‘do it all’ poorly rather than provide excellent performance in a particular area. 

As a gear junkie and somebody who loves products designed for specific purposes I have always appreciated Werner’s dedication to putting a lot of thought, design and testing into specific shapes, materials and sizes that would provide the best performance in the specific discipline.

I get a lot of questions asking what paddle I use? What size is the blade? What length are you using? And my answer varies depending on which area of SUP I am being asked about.  Here is a breakdown of the 4 paddles I am using now. (I am about 5’11”)

a.    Dedicated racing paddle
b.    Length: 78”
c.    Blade Size: 86
d.    Weight 413 grams

a.    Surf Paddle
b.    Length: 74”
c.    Blade Size: 79
d.    Weight 454 grams

a.    Whitewater Paddle
b.    Length: 76”
c.    Blade Size:
d.    Weight: 535g

4.    Werner Soul S (for 2016 check out the Flow 85)
a.    Teaching Paddle
b.    Length: 78”
c.    Blade Size:

For this post I am going to focus on the Grand Prix.  This paddle will be in my hands for the majority of the season. I log a lot of hours training and racing through the season and the paddle is the one constant throughout the season. 

Since I started racing 5 years ago my race paddles have gradually been getting smaller and smaller. My first race paddle was a Kialoa Shaka Puu which was 82” in length and had a blade.  As you can see from above, my paddle this year is 4” shorter and smaller in the blade.  This change is fairly common through the SUP racing world and seems to be driven by a couple of factors.

The first reason I moved to a shorter paddle with a smaller blade was to take some stress off my shoulders.  I found myself getting a sore right shoulder after racing and even had a couple close calls in the surf where I felt like my shoulder was close to dislocating.  The smaller blade and shorter shaft has reduced a lot of this stress.

The second reason I moved to a smaller paddle was to focus on my strengths.  I love how inclusive SUP racing is and by that I mean that it lends itself to all sorts of body types, weights, heights etc.  It’s all about how you move your own body across the water.  I found that the best way for me to move quickly and efficiently was with a higher turnover and quicker strokes rather than focusing on longer stronger strokes, I seemed to be better suited for a higher cadence with a bit less power.

This is where the Grand Prix fits in so nicely. It has a generally narrow blade which allows for a quicker turnover and a cleaner entry and exit from the water.  The smallest blade size has been reduced from a blade in 2015 to an which results in a little less stress on the joints and a quicker stroke turnover. The Grand Prix also has what I would consider a ‘softer’ flex in the paddle shaft which can also help in keeping some stress off the body.

So far I’ve logged about 60km on the new Grand Prix and it feels great.  The feel of the paddle remains much the same as it has the past couple of years but the smaller blade is definitely noticeable, especially this early in the season. Werner has also maintained the relatively high 12 degree offset angle in the blade which results in a cleaner exit and a more vertical blade throughout the stroke. This off-set is an excellent efficiency feature but can feel a bit different for paddlers who are used to a more tradition 8-10 degrees. The Grand Prix continues to be one of the lightest race paddles on the market while still maintaining the high level of durability you can find with all Werner Paddles. The Grand Prix comes in a straight shaft or a benth shaft and can be purchased in 3 different blade sizes:, 93, and

If you are in Deep Cove you are more than welcome to give my paddle a try or use one of our many Werner demos!  Or stop by our retail store Deep Cove Outdoors to chat with one of our staff who can help you pick the right paddle for yourself.

Keep checking back in for more product reviews!

Mike on the Slocan River with Werner Paddles, Western Canadian Sales Rep, Nikki Rekman photo: Mark Klein

Friday, March 18, 2016

Routes of Change Expedition - Canoeing from Hope, BC to Vancouver, BC with Canadian explorer, Markus Pukonen

Mark and I had discussed doing a winter paddling trip down the Fraser River this year but we never expected the impetus would be a guy, we had never met, circumnavigating the planet without the use of a motor.

When life and the paddling community comes together - cool stuff happens and being a part of the Fraser River leg of the Routes of Change expedition was no exception.
On a dark, cool morning in late January a group of paddlers, who didn’t all know each other, headed out from Chilliwack, BC. We had arranged to meet, Canadian explorer and adventurer, Markus Pukonen at a pre-arranged put-in on the Fraser River in Hope, BC.

What were we thinking?

We were thinking, “Let’s have an adventure!”

As we were loading up our Clipper Canoes (thanks to WesternCanoeing and Kayaking in Abbotsford, BC) we see a tall, blond haired guy with skis on his back, walking towards us and our piles of gear, it’s Markus and the adventure is about to begin. He had recently skied from Kelowna to Hope to begin the next leg of his expedition.

After the obligatory pre-trip photo, we were off.

Our first day we logged 57 km and were forced off the water due to crazy-winds, just downstream from Island 22 near Chilliwack, BC. The wind was so strong, that this would be the only time of the trip that SUP paddler, Jason Bennett would be found sitting down! We had hoped to make it past Chilliwack on day 1 but alas the weather had other plans for us.
Camp #1 ended up being very comfortable and we were able to enjoy our evening without wind and rain to spend a little time around the campfire. That was about the only dry spell on the trip.

Day two was also wet and cool but our crew was well-dressed and comfortable in our Kokatat gear (can’t imagine doing any kind of paddling trip at this time of year without a drysuit! Thanks, Kokatat). It was another long day, 56 km bringing us to Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley, BC. The Fraser River is tidal below Mission, BC so our current had slowed significantly in comparison to what we experienced on the Hope to Chilliwack section of the river and so far the tides had been in our favour.

Camp #2 ended up being quite decadent given the wet weather as we hijacked the kitchen shelter and set up ALL of our gear, including our tents to have a dry night’s sleep. We were a bit nervous about getting kicked out of the park (it’s closed after dark) but we were tired, cold and hungry and we had arrived by canoe and SUP board – what were they going to do? Thankfully, the park ranger never showed up.

Kitchen Shelter at Derby Reach Regional Park. Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

Our 3rd and final day was surprise, wet and cool but the change in scenery was different than what most of us were used to on trips and kept things interesting. The lower section of the Fraser River is very industrial and of course, goes right through New Westminster, North Richmond and South Vancouver. We saw a fair bit of commercial traffic and paddling underneath all the bridges was very cool.

The Port Mann Bridge is in our sights. Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

There were a few things that struck me about this trip, #1 it was amazing how competent and cohesive our small group of 7 paddlers was given that we didn’t really know each other before the trip. We really left the trip having made new friends and #2 how unexplored the Fraser River is by paddlers and #3 and possibly the most important, how one person’s dream (Markus’ dream to circumnavigate the planet) brought a group of like-minded people together for an amazing paddling adventure! THANK YOU, Markus!

Our goal was to help get Marcus to Vancouver and after 44 km on day 3 the sun came out (seriously, that’s how it happened) and greeted us just below the Arthur Laing Bridge at Fraser River Park.

Photo Credit: DamGood Trips

We did it and we had a blast being a part of the Routes of Change expedition.
If you have a chance to join Markus at some point in his journey, do it, you won’t regret it.

Paddlers: Markus Pukonen, Jason Bennett, Christina Chowaniec, Nikki Rekman, Mark Klein, Peter Brennan and Laura Demers.

Special thanks to our shuttle drivers, Len Zilkowsky and Monica Demers, to the folks that met us en route with hot beverages and timbits – Lynne Smith and Marlin Bayes from Clipper Canoes and the friends and family that welcomed us at the end of our journey to help us pack up and get Markus on his way again, this time via bicycle. We could not have done it without you!

Gear generously supplied by Kokatat and Clipper Canoes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Werner Paddles Rip Stick Review by Mark Temme

Mark Temme, is a SUP Surf athlete based out of New York state, check out what he had to say about his Werner Paddles Rip Stick

Got my Rip Stick! Big Thanks!!! Used it today in some good surf here in Surf City, New Jersey. Hands down the best SUP Surf Paddle I have ever used! Whether paddling thru whitewater or spinning around to catch a wave it gives me the quick bursts of acceleration needed to maximize performance. The light weight, progressive blade design and surface area also allows for the most efficient handling I've ever experienced while riding a wave. It allows easy paddle transfers and the smoothest, cleanest interface with the slope and shape of the wave. Definitely the best paddle i've ever used to SUP Surf!!! Already showed it off to the crew hanging out at the top of the dune after my first session using it! Big Mahalos!

The Rip Stick is available in two sizes - 79 & 89 and designed from the ground up by professional surfers, one of which is Fiona Wylde. With it's unique double concave and strong dihedral you've got great power pockets and a self-centering blade that makes every stroke count!

Fiona recently came in 2nd at the 2016 Waterman League Turtle Bay's Pro Women's Competition. This was stop #1 of the Stand Up World Tour and you can expect to hear more about the Rip Stick as the premier surf event in the US, Santa Cruz Paddlefest takes place THIS weekend.

Contact Mark at New York Kayak Co. in Manhattan to find out more about SUP paddling in NYC or on the surf in NJ.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Q & A with Esquif Canoes

Here we go! Round 2 of the Esquif Q & A about T-Formex!

Q: Can I use the same vinyl adhesive to install outfitting in a T-Formex canoe that I used on Royalex canoes?
A: Yes. T-Formex has the same type of inside skin that Royalex has.

Q: Will T-Formex canoes be repairable using the same techniques that I use to repair Royalex canoes?
A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: Can skid plates be installed like on Royalex Canoes?
A: Yes. In addition, self-adhesive skid plates that we now see in the market will also work on T-Formex canoes.

We want to hear from you too so please post your questions in the comments section below. We will then compile them and post the answers in the near future. If you wrote us a question in the comments last week and it has not been answered this time around, please don’t worry - we will address them all in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

T-Formex is Happening!!!

Each week, for the next few weeks, we will be posting answers to the most commonly asked questions about T-Formex. We want to hear from you too so please post your questions in the comments section below. We will then compile them and post the answers in the coming weeks. Please follow Esquif International on-line for all the latest updates on Facebook.

Jacques Chasse, owner of Esquif International inside our autoclave
Inside the Esquif International headquarters in Frampton, QC

Chaque semaine, pour les prochaines quelques semaines, nous allons poster des réponses aux questions les plus fréquemment posées au sujet de T-Formex.  Nous voulons également vous  entendre , alors s’il vous plaît poser vos questions dans la section des commentaires ci-dessous. Nous allons ensuite les compiler et publier les réponses dans les prochaines semaines.  Suivez-nous sur internet pour toutes les dernières nouvelles!

- What is T-Formex?
- C’est quoi T-Formex? 

T-Formex is a high tech ABS plastic laminate, specially designed and built for canoes and other products requiring structural memory.  It integrates a foam core, layers of ABS, and a UV protectant skin. It was developed to provide the same resilience, mechanical properties, and strength to weight ratio as the proven Royalex.

T-Formex est un plastique ABS stratifié de haute technologie spécialement conçu et construit pour les canots et d’autres produits qui requièrent une mémoire structurelle.  Il intègre un noyau de mousse, des couches d’ABS et des couches de protection contre les UV.  Il a été développé pour fournir la même résilience, les mêmes propriétés mécaniques en conservant le même ratio résistance / poids qui ont établi la réputation du Royalex.         

- Will T-Formex be stronger and lighter than Royalex as initially suggested?
- Est-ce que T-Formex sera plus fort et plus léger que Royalex comme il été initialement suggéré? 

T-Formex will have a similar weight and strength compared to Royalex. T-Formex is, as Royalex was: a customizable vulcanized sandwich with structural reinforcement and additional impact resistant substrates. Each canoe model will have a specifically designed sheet that achieves the perfect balance of durability and weight reduction. We always used the strongest sheets of Royalex that were available so we will match that with our new T-Formex sheets. It will be at least as good, if not better, than Royalex.

T-Formex aura un poids et une résistance similaire par comparaison à Royalex.  T-Formex est, comme Royalex était: un multi-laminé vulcanisé et personnalisé avec les renforts structurels et des substrats de résistance aux chocs supplémentaires. Chaque modèle de canot aura une feuille spécialement conçu qui permettra d'atteindre un équilibre parfait entre la durabilité et la réduction de poids.  Nous avons toujours utilisé les feuilles les plus robustes de Royalex qui étaient disponibles et nous allons faire de même avec nos feuilles de T-Formex.  Il sera aussi bon, sinon supérieur, que Royalex.

- Will there be a lighter weight version of T-Formex, similar to Royalite?
- Est-ce que il y aura une version plus légère de T-Formex, similaire à Royalite?

We are working on reducing the weight of the T-Formex sheets for the models that can benefit from a lighter weight construction.

Nous travaillons sur la réduction du poids des feuilles T-Formex pour les modèles qui peuvent bénéficier d'une construction plus légère.

- Which models will be available in T-Formex?
- Quels modèles seront disponibles en T-Formex?

All of the models that we were producing in Royalex will be produced in T-Formex. On a related note: we have a stock of Royalex solo canoes remaining in inventory – being sold at the 2015 prices. We will not be producing those solo canoes in T-Formex until we have sold them all. Please contact your local dealer for solo canoe pricing and availability.

Tous les modèles que nous avons produit en Royalex seront disponibles en T-Formex.  Sur le même sujet, nous avons encores des canots solos en Royalex en stock qui seront vendu au prix de 2015.  Nous ne produirons pas ces canots solos en T-Formex jusqu'à ce que nous ayons vendus tous ceux en Royalex.  S'il vous plaît contacter votre revendeur local pour le prix et la disponibilité des canots solos.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Paddling and Doing Good - The Two Go Hand In Hand

Paddling and doing good - the two go hand in hand, at least in the Western Canadian Stand Up Paddling community.

Logo created by First Nations Artist, Roy Henry Vickers
Recently I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Ken Larsen's grade 8 classroom to hear all about the, Take a STAND - Youth For Conservation Program and how it aims to educate and engage youth to protect the environment around them. It also looks strongly at our BC Coast and the Coastal First Nations culture. The program exists because of a small but passionate group of people, Nicholas, Anthony, Norm, Allison and Natascia. I have known Norm (Hann) for a few years now and it was a pleasure to attend the presentation which also included the viewing of 2 of his Stand Up Paddling films, Standup 4 Great Bear and STAND.

You can view Standup 4 Great Bear below and STAND is available on NETFLIX.

As a member of the stand up paddling community here in Western Canada, Norm has been a huge inspiration to many, many people, myself included. My reaction to the films was quite emotional; it evoked in me and others who have watched it, a desire to do better and be better in our communities. The stand up paddling community is very inclusive and members are very engaged; environmentally and socially. It's fantastic. 

A few folks worth mentioning are of course, Norm and Standup 4 Great Bear

Kevin O'Brien from Kalavida Surf Shop and his work with the Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake (SPrKL) 

Ken from Pure Life Paddle Boards in his support of many different organizations (SU4GB, Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society, Vancouver to Nanaimo for Youth at Risk)

Trevor Petersen raising awareness about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) through his expedition, Paddling with PTSD.

Harry Saini and his crew with Vancouver to Nanaimo for Youth at Risk 

Chad Guenter raising awareness and funds for mental illness through Keep Calm & Paddle On (KCPO)

Please check out SU4GB below and STAND on Netflix. Get inspired and then take action! If you don't know where or how, contact myself or any of the guys I mentioned above. There is always opportunity to do GOOD.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin