Sometimes when I am busy making a paddle I wonder what this particular paddle will get up to? Will the person love it as one of there best toys ever or will it just sit in the garage never to be use like a bad reminder of wasted time niggling at you!


I hate to think that the love and care I put into the final product just goes to waste! That’s why when I do spot one of my paddles being used I almost light up like a mother at a school play! Sad but true, I think perhaps the resin might be going to my head.


Sometimes I know who I am making the paddle for and I have a good idea already what the paddle has in store for itself. I have to say that the most exciting person I have ever made a paddle for must be Riaan Manser!


So if you don’t know who he is I don’t blame you but he is defiantly  a guy worth checking out! Pete was given his book “Around Africa on my bike” for Christmas and as he read it I got a running commentary on what was happening and how he was doing. So when Pete finally finished with the book I dived in! By the end of the book I felt like I knew Riaan inside out! He is an open relaxed kind of guy who shares just about everything and with my slow pace of reading I felt like I was living with the oak! Strange feeling, never having actually met him!


But as luck would have it things changed! I happened to be reading Riaan’s book while flying to Molokai last year. I was sitting next to a good friend Daantjie, (who the Americans quickly dubbed as Donkey, not being able to master his name!) But there I was on the plane when Donkey started chatting about doing a paddle in Kenya. We were both lost as to exactly where Kenya lay on the east coast of Africa so I flipped to the front map in Riaan’s book. Donkey almost did a double summer salted back flip! “I can’t believe you reading that book!”

“It’s good! Have you read it?” I replied

“No, I got given the book, Riaan is a good mate of mine so I get all the stories first hand!


Now I had to stop myself from diving in with a million questions and sounding like a strange stalker, so I limited myself to a few “oh so where does he live? what’s his girlfriend like? What does he eat for breakfast..” no jokes I thought I had stepped out of a movie and into real life! Wow this really made things real now, how could I get to meet him!?


Luck again on my side a few months later I heard that since recovering form his epic solo cycle around Africa, Riaan was now about to, wait for it… paddle solo around Madagascar! Flip First thing that came to mind was, he has to use my paddle! So with that thought in my head and a little encouragement from Pete I phoned Donkey, to phone Riaan to ask him for me! No way I was brave enough! But to my horror Donkey says “sure here is his cell number! He knows who you are, I was just talking about you the other day with him” Wow that was all a bit much! I realize he is not Brad Pitt but good heavens I felt like a school girl on the other end of the phone.


Riaan answered the phone and in my bravest attempt I said “Hi I’m Alexa you don’t know me but …”

Riaan zapped in “of course I know you! How are you doing?”

Well that was me, dumbstruck. Catching my breath I quickly fitted in a “please will you use my paddle?”

Riaan didn’t even flinch “defiantly, just on principle I will use it but I am sure they will be good! Let’s meet for coffee.”


So there I was having coffee with Riaan! Turns out he was using a hideous glass flat paddle with a metal shaft! So although he opted to stay with the flat paddle he now has a light weight carbon adjustable paddle! Man I felt proud. Stuff Brad Pitt he probably doesn’t like getting his hair wet! Riaan is my new greatest guy ever! (Second to Pete, of course!)


So if you want to check out his progress in Madagascar go to . Riaan is round the Southern tip and now heading up the East Coast.