By Kyle Smith

Sometime around the spring of 2013, I joined a workout group made up primarily of paddlers that call themselves the North County Paddlers or NCP. I knew very little about the group except that the members seemed to be on the podium at all the paddle races around town. Just like starting anything new, it was intimidating at first and I was instantly shocked at the speed of the top paddlers and the intensity of the workouts. I quickly realized that all the paddling I had done up to that point had been pretty lame.

As I got to know the members of NCP better, I began to understand why the workouts were so intense. The group included Ironman World Champions, Molokai legends, Catalina lifers, big wave surfers, lifeguards, triathletes, world class runners and professional trainers. Each of these paddlers disguise themselves as business men and women, engineers, teachers, techies, parents, etc. on a daily basis. Since meeting them, I’ve grown to admire the suffering they experience training and competing at our niche sport — all without very much mainstream recognition.

Fast forward to present day, and we’re once again readying ourselves to start workouts for the upcoming paddle season. I’m looking forward to training, paddling, and suffering again with this group of incredible friends and mentors. As usual there will be some new crafts on the water for 2019 and I’m excited to bring my Shearwater boards into the group so my friends can give them a spin.