Joe O'Blenis

Greenland Paddles, Straightshaft Canoe PAddles, Bentshaft Canoe Paddles

     Vancouver Island 2010 Sea Kayak Speed Record:                              



Canoe & Kayak Magazine Report:

Click on the photo below for the Canoe & Kayak Magazine report... 



September 04th Update:


Thanks to all of you for your support, as Joe would say, this wasn't a solitary effort but one that included sooooo many fantastic people!  He couldn't have done it without you.  THANK YOU ALL!  And please enjoy a beverage of your choice on his behalf.  You've earned it:)  Let the party begin!!!

 Diane, Joe and Darby



September 04th Update:

Well folks, Joe is on his way to breaking the record of 17days 4hours and 49minutes with an epic paddle of 16days...(the rest is yet to be known until his finish tonight)  WAY TO GO JOE!!!  Barring a run-in with a Ferry or something redonkulous like that, he has brought the record back to Canada!!!!  I bet he's really looking forward to that beer tonight (not to mention the 100 or so person greeting party that Robin Thacker arranged for the honorary guest).

 Since Tofino, which was my last update, I've only spoken with Joe once.  He expressed his desire to get this thing over with and said that he wasn't going to drag this out until Sunday. A saturday finish was a sure thing, in his mind.  I can't even imagine what he's been going through, but he did it and I'll be soooo happy when he's home.

After Tofino he experienced a bout of exhaustion and did a short day, but he managed to "get his head on right" and quickly got back on track the following day.  He mentioned that the headwinds were horrific and that visibility was less than 100ft for most of that morning. I'm sure he'll fill you in on what happened that day when he gets back.

It was great to see that Joe's journey was covered by the local Victoria t.v. station.  It's quite an epic journey that Joe is doing and it's always nice to see "good news" on the news.  It was also wonderful to see Joe "in person" as I haven't seen him for a couple of worryful weeks.  Thanks www.checknews.ca  for the coverage! (for those interested in seeing it, go to their website and type in "round the island kayaker" to watch it.

 Joe will be SPOTing on a more regular basis today.  This morning he had 91km to go to the finish and as of his last SPOT he has conqured 1/3rd of that.  He's well on his way!!

Joe had one request for those who are following this record breaking adventure and this is, and I will quote, " when you see my last SPOT crack open a beer and repeat when necessary".  So, there you go...




August 31st Update:

Sorry for the delay in updating this but yesterday was a bit, well, let's just say, "FREAK'N CRAZY".  So, here's what happened.

Seconds after I clicked the "update" button on yesterdays post I received a call from Joe.  He was in Tofino to pick up his food drop.  For some bizarre reason, the package never showed up, but Joe took this in stride and headed for the grocery store to re-stock the fuel.  As he was shopping he was telling me how the last few days were, and in a word, they were TOUGH!  He had 65km tail winds for two days straight which he described as "NASTY" furthered by "it was white knuckle paddling the entire way".  At one point a giant wall of water came at him as he peered over his right shoulder.  Steadying for a brace, he took it right on his head. No brace was going to help him with this one, so, as he flipped over, he set up for a roll and popped back up. He was quite happy that this happened because prior to being knocked down he was getting ready to call it a night, but after his refreshing dip he was rather energized and continued on for another 20km.

So all went well in Tofino, food was puchased and packed and he was on his way in record time.  Then, about 20 minutes out, he realized that he had no skeg control.  More like, there was NO SKEG to control (or repair).  Here is Joe's understanding about what happened here:


I think I know what happened with the skeg assembly. Small thing (one tiny screw) failed. Result afterwards was a small piece protruding out from the hull that, when impacting something under the surface, sheared a second screw off, allowing the assemble to work free and come apart.  
Bad result but likely a very rare, isolated thing. No worries at all, the new kayak arrived hours later and I'll continue on in the morning with only a loss about 6 hours paddling today. Still time enough to make that up. :)




So with a quick phone call to Robin Thacker, Joe arranged to have another boat delivered to him.  Although it is possible to have finished the race without a skeg, there were other options that were better, safer, and faster.  A big THANK YOU goes out to Robin for being available to pick up a couple of boat options for Joe in Nanimo,  racing across the Island to Tofino and saving the day!!!

Although Joe's spirits were high when he first called and his body's ability to recover is even amazing him, I'd have to say that he was sounding a little down as he waited for a new boat and saw the hours of paddling slipping away. So what does one do or say to lift Joe's spirits, well...they enlist Helen Wilson, the funniest lady I've ever met, to give Joe a call and get him laughing and to encourage him on.  Aparantly it worked!  Thanks Helen!!

Joe ended up staying overnight in Tofino, fueled up in the morning with one of his favourite breakfasts (sausages, eggs, hash-browns, toast and coffee) then finished loading up his boat (a Tahe Wind 585 this time) and was on his way by 11:45am EST (Thunder Bay time...it's just how I think).  When I spoke with him this morning he was in TERRIFIC spirits and more than ready to paddle as long as it takes to get this record back (which are going to be some VERY long days and nights of paddling).

Joe's goal???  Well, he's still hoping to arrive in Nanimo on Saturday which will be extremely tough, but doable for a machine like Joe.  But, as he well knows, it's all weather dependent so he says he'd be happy to make it "home" by 12:56am on Sunday, which would give him a one minute lead on Sean's record.  I sure hope it doesn't come down to that though...this is stressful enough! 

I'm not expecting a phone call from Joe until he get's to the finish line so keep watching his SPOT posts, Wavelength magazine updates, West Coast forum updates, our facebooks and wherever else you are keeping track of him and root him on.






August 30th Update:

 Okay folks, it's down to the wire now and I'm so anxious it's redonkulous!  I thought that watching the Olympic Hockey game was stressful but this??  Holy man!!  I'd like to thank all of those who are watching his progress and wishing him well, I know that if he could read your comments he'd realize how many terrific people, from all over the world, are behind this challenge and this would mean so much to him.  I suspect that he is physically and emotionally exhausted by now so I'll be sure to pass on your kinds words of encouragement when I hear from next (hopefully this will be today/tonight sometime).

Robin Thacker, West Coast Paddler and Wavelength magazine have been doing a fantastic job of keeping us informed of Joe's progress.  I can't thank you folks enough.  It's comforting to know that so many people are keeping a close eye on him, especially when I'm so far away.

Over the last few days Joe has been battling some pretty strong headwinds and in spite of this, or perhaps to spite this, Joe has been making remarkable headway.  We were hoping for a break in the weather so he could bank some time but this hasn't been the case, YET!  The next few days are looking GREAT weather wise, so maybe this is when he gets his break.  But it's still going to be a tight race nonetheless.  As it stands, as of last night's SPOT location, Joe has approximately 350km to go, which roughly translates into 80km days to beat the record.  This most likely means some night paddling which I know he was anticipating.  If there is one thing I know about Joe, it is that he has the mental and physical stubbornness to pull that off (which often makes him difficult to live with hehehe).  But with all kidding aside, baring some unforeseeable mishap, Joe DOES have what it takes to get the record back onto Canadian soil.

Sean Morley's official time was 17days, 4hours and 49minutes.  To match this Joe needs to return to the same spot be began by September 05 at 1:04pm so we are hoping for something well before that (but I'd take seconds before that if I have to). 

So everyone, keep your fingers and toes crossed (mine are cramping so he better get this thing done soon before I become and invalid), continue with sending your energy his way and let's see what happens.  And, like many of you are saying, PADDLE STRONG, PADDLE SAFE AND GIVER' JOE!!

Until next time,



August 26th Update:

Joe is now around Cape Scott, which is where I believe Joe had to pull out on his first attempt 3 years ago due to some lost hatch covers.  I'm sure that will NEVER happen again.  So far Joe looks to be on schedule, let's just hope the weather gives him a break.

 You can also follow Joe's journey on www.wavelengthmagazine.com . John Kimantis, editor, is doing a fantastic job of following he race.

Until next time, keep your fingers and toes crossed for some kick-ass days and good weather.



August 23rd Update:

I received a call from Joe last night after a 58km day (one of his shortest days thus far).  He decided to pull in around 7pm , make a ton of food and rest up.  So far he's right where he wants to be, pulling off days of 65km, 95km, 75km and 58km.  If this keeps up he'll be sure to make his 16 day goal.  Let's just hope the winds keep blowing favourably.

Over the last few days he's seen about 50 killer whales, several just meters from his boat, ton's of jumping salmon, lots of fishing boats and cruise ships and was treated to a fantastic cruising speed of 16.1km/hr in the tidal rapids of Seamour Narrows, yahoooooo...sounds like fun!   He also mentioned, with a giggle, that he could barely sit up in the tent the other night because his abs were so sore,  well at least he's using proper technique;).  Oh, one more thing, he told me that he "made a bear cry" last night.  Apparently the beach that Joe was planning on camping at already had a resident, but that soon changed when Joe fired off a couple of bear bangers.  The poor little bear ran for cover into the bush.  I just hope the furry mass didn't come back.

So, that's all for now.  Joe may have cell covereage tonight but after that there will be no phone calls until he reaches Tofino, which is also where his next food drop will be.  I'll write more then.

Happy paddling everyone,




August 19th Update:

8:00pm update:  Joe just called and said he has been battling horrific headwinds but managed some good mileage anyway.  He stopped to make some dinner and the winds have changed in his favour!!  Yahooooo!  He'll keep going for as long as he can tonight to try and make up some time.



Noon update: 

I'm Joe's "other half", Diane, and I'll be trying my best to update you on Joe's travels around the Island.

Joe finally was on the water around 7'ish, Western time, and was bid farewell by a group of folks from Wavelength Magazine and others.  After a short interview and some videos, he was on his way.  The winds still aren't in his favour but he had to head out anyway so we will hope for the best.  I'll let you know how it goes as soon as I find out myself.   Joe seemed very excited and ready for the challenging days to come.  

Look on Joe's home page to see how you can follow him on his SPOT messenger.

Until then, keep your fingers and toes crossed for favourable winds.



August 18th Update:

It is almost 11:00 PM as I type this and the launch is now roughly 8 hours away. Full reports, photos, maps etc to be posted upon completion. Weather forecast looks "decent" for the start. We are pretty much packed and ready to go. It's going to be fun, be sure and follow along ;)




August 16th Update:

Finally I'm back on Vancouver Island! Just arrived today after an awesome trip across half the country over the last few days. Travelling by Via Rail (private cabin, all inclusive) was like a holiday in itself and I enjoyed every minute of it!


Now in Nanaimo, it is time to put the finishing touches on the trip planning and to make sure that everything is set and ready to go. Two boxes of food and equipment that I shipped out last week arrived just hours earlier as well. Still waiting for my two Greenland Paddles, also shipped on the same day. HOPEFULLY they arrive tomorrow as I'm planning a Wednesday launch. 


The new kayak is here as well, a Greenlander Pro from Nigel Dennis once again. Thank you Nigel, I appreciate the help and support!




August 5th Update:

Well, my new sea kayak was scheduled to be picked up this morning by the owner of Wavelength Magazine. John K will pick it up from Don at Comox Valley Kayaks on Vancouver Island. John will then take it to his place in Nanaimo for me to go over when I arrive in just over a weeks time.

Many thanks to Nigel Dennis of Seakayaking UK for the support once again with another new Greenlander Pro sea kayak.




   Marine Forecast for Vancouver Island region. If interested in watching what the weather is doing, just click the link and follow along.  





    I am happy to announce that, once again, Kokatat is on board as a sponsor for my sea kayaking expedition this summer around Vancouver Island in an attempt to reclaim the speed record.



 March 2, 2010:

Here is a recent artcile that went up on the Canoe & kayak Magazine's online site:


This was just after I was interviewed regarding this Junes expedition to reclaim the record. Getting close now, just over three months to go!!

Watch for the June issue of Canoe & Kayak Magazine for a small piece on the expedition.  The magazine should be out a couple weeks before the start of the expedition (aiming to launch around the 15th of June).




The goal of the expedition? Roughly 1150 kilometers in under 17 days! Included in this are tidal rapids with currents of up to 16 knots. Areas prone to high winds (last time I did this I encountered headwinds for 18 of the first 19 days), and the highly exposed, rugged west coast of the island with the full brunt of the Pacific rolling in...sound like fun? Sure does to me. Bring on the Pain!!!



The launch date is tentatively set for June 15th, depending on weather conditions. Ideally,  this would set me for completing the expedition and getting the speed record back on July 1st... Canada Day!



POSTPONED until June 2010.

     Originally planning an early September launch to reclaim the speed record, I've had to make the decision to postpone the expedition until June 2010.  As some of you may or may not know, I recently made the plunge by quitting my "Day job" and concentrating on building up my paddle business. I'm building custom Greenland Paddles as well as canoe paddles, both straight shaft and bent shaft, and have been shipping paddles as far away as the U.K., California, Alaska etc. I'm now building a pair of paddles to send to a customer in South America as well so sales have certainly expeanded. In order to make this venture work, right now I need to concentrate on building paddles and getting them into peoples hands. 

    The expedtion around Vancouver Island will be a great way to promotoe the Greenland Paddles as well but it must now wait until next June.  The expedition is most certainly NOT cancelled, just postponed.


Cheers...Joe O' 


16 Days of PAIN!  




      Well here we go again. Back in 2007, I had set out to beat the old solo record for circumnavigating British Columbia's rugged and exposed Vancouver Island.  Mission accomplished. In 2008, British kayak sensation Sean Morley lowered the bar and set a new mark. Looks like it is time for me to head back to the West Coast and go for another lap around the Island!

      For this years expedition, I'll be paddling exclusively with my own Greenland  Paddles and will count on their superior perfomance in helping me log the distance required, day in and day out as I make my way around the island. The fact that these paddles are so much less fatigueing and thus much easier on the body are one of the key advantages of this style of paddle. In fact, not only will they help me on the water, they will also partialy finance the expedition this year. As some of you may know, I sell a few paddles here and there so will be taking a portion from every paddle I build and sell this season to put towards the expedition. 











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