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Beginning Paddler FAQs

Beginner Paddling

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions for our beginning paddlers which we hope will help provide some guidance and direction.

Please be sure to also review the contents of our Join Us page. If you have more questions after reading these, please reach out to the coaching staff or just  send us an email via our contact page.

What should I wear?

Please come to paddle in clothing that you can get wet in is always the best bet; a bathing suit or board shorts are good choices, as is a “base layer” shirt for warmth and sun protection.  Hats and sunscreen are encouraged for sun protection, too.

Water shoes or flip flops are a must! We carry the boats to the launch ramp and you will not want to wear shoes in the boat unless they are ones made for water.

Will I get wet?

Yes! – especially in your first few weeks of paddling as you learn to balance our tippy boats.  We have more stable boats for beginners to start in however even these are ones that most people tip over in to begin with.

It is also not uncommon to get wet from water splashed from paddles in team boats or paddling near other boats.  While we do not try to get into the water, it’s a part of the sport that you can expect to get wet.

When are the workouts?

Beginner workouts are typically on the weekend and will be announced on this website.  Club workouts are currently every Sunday morning and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 6am.   As the club grows, we will work with the membership to establish times and days that work for the majority.  We hope to have Tuesday and Thursday afternoon/early evening workouts, too.

Winter paddling (November through February) is for the elite and adult paddlers only and we encourage alternative training during this time for our juniors.  Two or more weekends a month is all that our non-elite junior paddlers would be expected to train on the water and the coaching staff will provide other workout opportunities like weight training and running with the club.  While it is possible to paddle year round here in Southern California, we also want our paddlers to be well rounded and ideally participate in other activities for part of the year, too.

How do we communicate?

Club members are given a code to use with our channels in TeamReach – an application for smart phones.  All minors should have their parents also use TeamReach.  All communication is visible to everyone with access to the club’s channels at all times as part of our adherence to the practices of

Adult club members have a separate TeamReach group from our minors.

Team Reach

Do I need to wear a life jacket?

Yes, Coast Guard approved life jackets/personal floatation devices (PFDs) are required for all paddlers in all club workouts.  (The club has some for beginners to use until one is purchased.). During sanctioned American Canoe Association races and regattas, there may be safety boats that permit us to paddle without a personal flotation device but it really is not a big deal to wear one and should be considered just part of your normal paddling gear. 

All paddlers are expected to get their own PFDs and not use the ones the club has for beginners for very long.  We’ll help you get one that fits and through a club discount with

What does it cost to join the club?

Club dues are set by our Board and are currently $20 a month year round.   Our dues permit you to use our club equipment, workouts, and coaching.  To join the club, you must also get a membership with the American Canoe Association which costs $25 a year.  (The ACA membership cover’s the club’s insurance needs and more.)   Please select the Ventura Canoe & Kayak Club as your club when joining!

If you end up going to the Nationals or racing in a National Team Trials event, you will also need to purchase a “racing license” from the ACA.   This is not something we would expect a first year paddler to need as most are not yet ready to race at the Nationals.

As noted above, members are also expected to purchase their own life jacket in the first few months of paddling.  The club gets a discount from NRS for these purchases.   A good life jacket/PFD for paddling will run between $50 and $100 dollars but you may also be able to find one cheaper through other sources.  The main thing is to get one you feel comfortable wearing while paddling!

By the end of your first year, you need to also purchase your own paddle.   New paddles cost between about $250 and $300, some cost much more.   Our club dues are intentionally low compared to the cost of many other club sports so that you can save up for the purchases of your own equipment and travel fees for races.

We also hope that members will continue to paddle and encourage all to buy (or make!) a boat in their second paddling year.   Boats range in prices depending on new vs. used, homemade vs. professionally made, materials, model, and more.  Expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 to as much as $5,000.  (Our coaches have never spent that much by the way.) We have various fundraisers for both supporting our paddlers and the club.

How long does it take to learn to stay in the boat?

As you might imagine, this depends very much on the skills of each individual and the amount of time and effort put into paddling.   Most beginners learn to stay in the boat within about a month’s time and only occasionally falling out of the boat after that.  For adult paddlers, it can take longer depending on their experience and balance skills.

When and where are the races?

The National Championships are each summer — usually the first week of August or last week in July.  The Nationals are often far from California and the races themselves span four days.  It’s not a small commitment to go to them.  The US Team Trails are often in April or early May but sometimes may be part of our Nationals.   There are some races in the spring and fall in California and we plan to host our own races as our club grows, too, as well as consider attending annual races held in the Seattle area or on the East Coast.

Do I have to race?

No.  Racing is optional for all members but we want everyone to train to be the best that they can be.  No one is forced to race but we do expect everyone to do what is required to improve in the sport.

How old do I have to be?

Club membership is open to 12 year olds and up.

What if I’m not a minor?  Can adults join?

Absolutely!  Most adults are more reluctant to pick up a sport where they may fall into the water for the first month of trying but paddling sprint boats is something for all ages.   There are Masters age classes at our Nationals that permit you to compete against others in your age brackets as well as the open Senior events for all ages.  Paddling is a great low impact, whole body, and core workout.

Where do the club dues get spent?

Our club is run completely by volunteers – we have no paid staff. 

Dues cover the maintenance of our club equipment — life jackets, paddles, boats, and trailer — and the rental of the space in the dry storage lot at the Harbor.  (Rental of the space is currently $88/month.) Dues also go towards our annual ACA club dues which are in addition to the individual payments made by members and required for obtaining insurance.  These run about $150/year.

Our Board may choose to increase or decrease our club dues in the future depending on needs.  We actively seek donations (we are a 501.3c non-profit) and rely on fundraising to purchase additional equipment and to offset the cost for paddlers to go to races.  We are fortunate to have a significant amount of boats and equipment already donated to our club and ask that all paddlers maintain and protect these assets.use