TRAK Unleashed: DANCING IN WILDNESS

By Amy O’Connor. All images ©2014 Ray Wheeler and Amy O’Connor used by permission.

Large swells were rolling at me from my right, having crossed a 200 mile reach of the Mediterranean Sea between Lybia and the southern coast of Crete. Choppy reflection waves came at me from the left, rebounding off multi-hewed, jagged cliffs. And a quartering tail wind pushed a third set of wind waves diagonally across my course, continually pushing my bow to the right. My husband Ray and I were paddling with all our might towards the tiny town of Scafion on the southern coast of Crete, even as wave peak heights increased and we temporarily disappeared from each-other’s view in the deep troughs.

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

It was the last day of a five-day paddle along a mountain-walled coastline penetrated by a series of thousand-foot deep canyons including world-famous Samaria Gorge, the deepest in Europe. The gray and buff mountain wall looming above us was carpeted in places by the brightest spring-green-colored pine forest I have ever seen. By day we threaded a steep and boulder-strewn coast line dotted with magical coves of turquoise water, while in the evenings our camp sites were bathed in magenta sunsets.

Ray and I love the exhilarating intimacy of exploring intricate coastal waters by kayak. We have paddled on the Alaska Gulf Coast, the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia, and among the islands of the Gulf of California. It is the call of wilderness, beauty, adventure, and self-reliance that keeps us coming back for more. It is what drew us to the Greek islands in the first place.

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

But for me, this trip had an added element of challenge and adventure. On previous trips we had always used a double sea kayak, with me in the bow and Ray in the stern, doing most of the navigation and steering. While I have some experience with whitewater kayaking, I am the less experienced kayaker and always ended up in the bow, helping to propel the craft and enjoying the ride, but having to do nothing to steer the boat, read water, or in any way handle waves. This time around, I had my own boat, a brilliant yellow 16-foot TRAK Seeker. And all of the steering and balance was up to me.

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

On the last day of our paddle along the southern coast of Crete, I benefited from the experience I had gained on several previous paddles among the Cyclades islands of Greece. I had come to trust the Seeker, a versatile and efficient performance kayak, and had learned to handle it well. One of the lessons I had already gleaned from videos on the TRAK website was that the boat could remain upright in some very turbulent conditions. As a new single sea kayaker this gave me courage. And when I began encountering some of the larger, rougher waves of the Aegean, I learned some important lessons.

The first lesson was that increasing paddle frequency improves stability because every time you push your paddle into the ocean, you are in effect bracing. So even if unpredictable waves catch you, you will likely stay upright at increasing paddle speeds. Of course, you have to be judicious in using this technique because it takes energy. I reserved my most intense bursts of paddling for the times when all three types of waves described above came together. In fact, it became a fairly automatic response to any dicey situation.

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

In my experience, kayaking also helps you find strength you did not know you possess. After having paddled for several hours in the difficult conditions along the coast of Crete, I thought my paddling powers were waning and was not sure just how long I could keep up intensive paddling. We had finally rounded a seemingly endless headland and were considering the option of finding a beach and camping for the night, not an easy task along this rugged coast with few and often unfriendly, steep beaches. The downside: we knew that worse weather was on the way and did not know how long it would last. If we did not reach Scafion before dark, it might be days before we could attempt the final leg of the trip. And at that precise moment we looked up and saw Scafion swing into view, a small dot of whitewashed houses huddled together, a welcome refuge from the whims of the sea. My strength and optimism returned. Scafion or bust! I knew we could make it!

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

It may have taken two hours, but we did reach Scafion just before nightfall. A rising tail wind pushed us along. Sometimes it was as if we were on a smooth, slow roller coaster, sliding up and down large swells with the wind at our back, an unforgettable feeling of freedom and ease. We encountered a few more rough spots with the three-wave phenomenon confusing matters. But as the wind and waves were clearly building, we finally slid into the protected harbor at Scafion, to the safety and comfort of a tiny, irresistibly picturesque Greek island village.

© 2014 Ray Wheeler

Perhaps the final lesson of the trip, one I re-experience with every kayaking adventure, is the importance of full immersion in the natural beauty of a wild coastline, stretching my limits both mental and physical, experiencing new and exhilarating places, and gaining perspective on the rest of my life — in short, of dancing in wildness.

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TRAK Unleashed: OPPOSITES ATRAK

By Keith Braun. All images ©2014 Keith and Anne Braun used by permission.

It may sound cliché, but opposites truly do attract!  When you think about it in terms of a magnet attracted to metal it seems pretty simple.  When you consider the scientific equation that defines the cause and effect:

Formula

It gets more complicated! When you look at it through the eyes of two naive kids in their 20’s preparing for marriage it becomes infinitely more complicated! Or, so it seemed! On June 20th, 1992 Anne and I shared vows to commit to a life together which was so exciting and yet filled with uncertainties. We both had great jobs, an amazing little home in a great community. We shared a common faith, had amazing friends and fabulous OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfamilies and we both had our youth and our health! What more could a young couple need or want and yet where in all of this could any uncertainty come from? A week prior, our Pastor and marriage counselor congratulated us on redefining the term “opposites attract”! Apparently in the long questionnaires we completed as part of our marriage counseling and preparation, we couldn’t have been more opposite in the final results. He assured us not to worry and just be diligent in exploring commonalities as well as giving each other freedom in those areas of interest we don’t share. He said over time we will offer a healthy balance to one another and grow together. Good advise that has served us well after almost 22 years of marriage!

IMG_7512Throughout those years we’ve stayed very active always exploring new interests and activities along the way that we could share together. Hiking and backpacking became our main staple for our summers. We can never get enough time in the mountains and nature! One year while hiking the West Coast Trail, Anne injured her knee and we 100_0013needed to retreat back to Bamfield, a small coastal town on the north end of the trail to mend her knee. We stayed at a B&B in Bamfield where the owners also have a dive operation and small kayaking outfit. We knew very little at a time about sea kayaking but we were eager to try! The company was taking a family into the Broken Island Group for a day trip and invited us along. They outfitted us in a large double kayak complete with all the necessary gear and we set off for the most amazing experience on the water! Anne and I decided to turn a one-day see kayaking excursion into 5 days self guided, which was absolutely incredible! Backpackers are traditionally minimalists being that everything they travel with they must carry on their back. We could not believe the amount of gear these boats could carry, which offered luxuries we never experienced before! We were also blown away by the visual buffet that Sea Kayaking offered where every moment of every day offered something entirely new! Looking back in knowing what we know now, we understand that our first trip lacked the skills and experience needed to do multi-day sea kayaking and navigation. Although we were blessed with incredible weather and perfect sea conditions! This trip solidified in our hearts and our minds that we found a new activity which we could enjoy together for many years to come!

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After a few more trips we decided to buy our own kayaks and I began to research whatthe perfect kayak could look like for us. I wanted a kayak that was versatile enough so that we could tour with on multi-day trips as well as play in the local rivers around our hometown of Calgary Alberta. I also knew that I wanted a kayak that we could travel with to Coast Rica and many OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAother warm destinations we enjoy going to. P7250034After scouring the Internet and talking to experts on kayaks I finally discovered TRAK Kayak ironically manufactured right in Calgary! Meeting the team at TRAK was like being welcomed into the family but most impressive was the kayak itself. I could not believe how diverse the kayak is in the water! By adjusting its three hydraulic jacks I could turn it into a efficient touring kayak to a very nimble whitewater kayak! Since we purchased our kayaks several years ago we have spent countless days exploring the endless rivers, lakes, ocean inlets and archipelagos of Western Canada as well as abroad in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, Belize, Panama and many more on the wish list!

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Each time we spend together on the water draws us closer together as a couple as we tackle the challenges and reap the many rewards that the sport has to offer. Yes opposites may attract, but along the journey are new amazing discoveries that challenge us to stretch our imaginations and our perceived limitations to become much more than had we remained in our own “status-IMG_7631quo” of familiarity. Anne and I are much different people from when we first said those vows years ago. Little did I know how right the advice of our Pastor was at the time! Would we re-do the past 21 years? Not a chance….. We have the next 21+ years to look forward to and plenty more waters to discover together!!

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TRAK Unleashed: PADDLERS IN PARADISE

By Whitney Sanford. All images ©2014 Whitney Sanford and Kevin Veach used by permission.

After the motorboat drove off, leaving Kevin and I, our boats, and about one hundred pounds of gear off on Big Major Cay (near Staniel Cay), we were on our own for a honeymoon paddling and snorkeling adventure in the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas. This was day 1 of a six-day self-supported kayak trip from Big Major Cay back to Barreterre, where we had started. Although we had done several self-supported kayak trips before, the remoteness of this trip called for new levels of teamwork and flexibility; we were each other’s back up and safety.

We had brought our TRAK kayaks and paddling gear from the US and then rented stoves, camping gear and a local cell phone from the Out-Island Explorers. Our shake-down trip through Florida’s 10,000 Islands demonstrated just how much the boats can carry, so our gear, food, and water fit easily in the boats. (And if we can survive dragging all our gear through the Miami Airport, I think we can survive almost anything.) Getting to the island itself was an adventure, requiring several evenings in the Peace and Plenty hotel bar until we found a local boat owner who agreed to ferry us and our gear north towards the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. (Hint: check local calendar for national holidays and majors events first.) The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is one of Bahamas’ National Parks, and Big Major Cay lay just outside of its southern boundary. Three days in an island paradise–what a terrific way to start a marriage!

ThunderballWe snorkeled for hours just off our own beach campsite, but we were less than a mile from Thunderball Grotto, where scenes from the James Bond movie Thunderball were filmed.

StanielKeySharkWe paddled over, anchored our boats on some rocks, and swam through the entrance to this underwater cave. Light streamed in from above, and we saw hundreds of fish, including sergeant majors, and a variety of coral. Later we paddled over to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and tied up our boats alongside the yachts. Although we had brought plenty of food for our trip, our dehydrated foods were no match for beer and fish sandwiches. After we ate, we watched them feed the nurse sharks that congregate around the dock.

Bar

The club also gave us a chance to refill one of our water bags. None of our campsites had fresh water, but there were several restaurants and yacht clubs along the route. We brought plenty of water, but planned to continually refill, just in case.

Paddling with the Pigs

We planned to circumnavigate Big Major Cay the following day, and we heard that the south side of the island held one of the area’s other tourist attractions: the swimming pigs. The next morning, as we lingered over our coffee, we heard a rustle and a snort. A little pig… Then lots of little pigs! They must have smelled our coffee. We jumped and stomped, and Kevin shooed them away with a flipper. We didn’t realize that we had just met the swimming pigs’ little brothers.

After breakfast and a snorkel, we began our trip around this wild tropical island. We carried a picnic lunch and several loaves of bread. When our waitress at the Yacht Club heard about our plans to visit the swimming pigs, she gave us some day-old bread to feed them. About three quarters around the island, we saw several anchored boats and a small wood hut on the beach with several sleeping pigs. OK, we thought, these must be the swimming pigs we keep hearing about. They sure look pretty lazy, we thought.

We paddled closer and called out to them until they began to stir. They looked at us, waddled over to the water and swam toward us.SwimmingPigs We threw them some bread, and they swam faster. Oh oh, those pigs are big and fast, much bigger and fast than we thought. I’m not sure I even knew that pigs could swim. Most people feeding the pigs are in big boats, not skin on frame kayaks. I was throwing bread and trying to take their picture, while Kevin was yelling at me to back paddle–which I did, quickly. We got away with no punctured boats, but the pigs certainly got my adrenaline flowing. And I got some great pictures as well.

Waterspouts and Weather Adventures

After three days, we left our island paradise to head south towards Barreterre. For the first few days, we had ideal weather, no rain and no clouds, but the weather had began to resume its normal patterns of midday storms. To adapt, we got up early, listened to the weather radio, and tried to get into camp by early afternoon. The water was so blue, it felt like we were flying. As we headed south, the islands became more developed, and we had heard that country music singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill owned Goat Cay. We sang them a lovely duet as we passed, but never knew if they heard us.Whit

We continued paddling, as the skies darkened with telltale anvil shaped clouds. We stopped to take a quick stretch break on a shallow sandbar, then suddenly the weather took an ominous turn. The wind picked up, the water churned, and we saw a waterspout in the distance, heading towards us. I have never paddled so fast in my life. We sprinted about a half mile to an small cay and dragged the boats to a protected spot under a ledge. We crawled up the rocks to watch the storm pass which fortunately veered away from us. The weather cleared up after that, but we both recognized the importance of being a good team.WaterspoutRefuge

This leg of our journey ended several days later at Norman Cay when the boat brought us back to Barreterre, and we returned to the Peace and Plenty in Georgetown. I would do this trip again in a second, and I hope we can get into the Land and Sea Park itself.

BoatsinWaterSince this trip, we have done a number of self-supported trips in the southeast, and we both recently passed our ACA Instructor Level 4 Open Water certifications.  We love to kayak surf, and now we’re looking ahead to paddling in Wales. As we improve, we can take more exciting trips together, and we’ll be bringing our boats with us. Our paddling honeymoon launched a lifetime voyage of love, teamwork, and fun.

Our motto: live our lives like a Jimmy Buffett song.

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Across the Atlantic and On the Water in France (in 5 Days)!

Packs Arrived

Ordered Monday, received Friday in France!

We received an order from a new customer in France last Monday. We shipped his two new kayaks from our TRAK HQ in Canada on Tuesday. FedEx delivered them to Jean in France on Friday. Then Jean set them up in his living room! On Sunday, the TRAK had its maiden voyage on the water! Less than one week, full circle! If you speak or read French, you can follow his stories here.

Living Room

Set up on Saturday in Jean’s living room

On the Water

On the water on Sunday!

Here is what Jean said on his blog (first impressions, translated from French using Google Translate): “The TRAK (Seeker) could be considered the ATV kayak (in addition to its ability to be stored in a bag) as it can be two kayaks at once. Through an ingenious system of hydraulics, this Canadian kayak can be more or less a banana! To each his own settings, according to taste, depending on the state of the sea, and everything can be done without leaving the kayak; a great thing! The kayak must be adaptable. Mission accomplished!” ~ Jean, new TRAK owner

We’ve heard that Jean has a lot planned for his TRAK Seeker kayaks. He and his son have a lot of ideas and excitement about their kayaking journeys ahead.

Welcome to TRAK, Jean! The world is your (paddling) oyster…now! We look forward to following you and your son as you paddle beyond borders in France and beyond.

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Our Extended Family: The TRAK Team in the Philippines

Bataan PacificWith family there’s no real distance that separates. We are all related in a family,whether we’re in the next room or in our case, 11,000 km (7,000 miles) away! That’s the distance between TRAK HQ in Airdrie, Alberta, in Canadian foothills and the coastal town of Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines. Half the TRAK extended family, ironically, is halfway around the world, across the largest ocean on the shores of the South China Sea. There’s a lot more open water over there and so fitting, because that’s the side of the family that actually builds our kayaks.

Nestled under the lush jungle-covered mountains and in the shadow of a towering dormant volcano, Mt. Mariveles, is a world-class outdoor gear factory and the manufacturing facility for the TRAK Seeker ST 16. This company is internationally respected and sought after by reputable brands. What was important to us, however, is that they have a reputation in the local Filipino community as an ethical and integral employer that invests sustainably in the well-being and professional development of its employees. The result is unsurpassed trust and loyalty.

Housed in a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled room, the most demanding and skill-intensive production process in the creation of a Seeker is quietly taking place. This is where the skin of the TRAK is born – where the precisely cut hull and deck fabric pieces are hot-air welded and seamed by the skilled hands of our Filipino extended family.IMG_0385

The TRAK Team of about 20 in the Philippines has been training and refining the manufacturing process for almost 2 years now. We had another chance to visit and work with them in December 2013. It is always a joy. There’s such a wonderful balance of beaming smiles then intensely concentrated focus. Filipinos love life. That much is clear. But when it comes to working as a team, the traditional principle of Bayanihan runs the show and everybody works together in concert to build a TRAK. That’s pure magic. That’s actually what it takes to create an exceptional product.

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While the Filipino culture seems to celebrate life in balance, having fun and being in community, there is a different reality in such a developing Asian country, that nothing is taken for granted. A job represents much more than personal career fulfillment or being able to get ahead and be successful. It represents fundamental security for all members of the family and it makes a much bigger difference to life when that security is present. IMG_0491It makes the difference between food being on the table or a roof being over your head, or not. That relationship to “job security” is not the same in most of North America, where it might make a difference between a one car garage or a two car garage. In simple contrast, for what we spend on one latte, your average Filipino will buy lunch for a week.

So, ready to meet our extended side of the family? Let us introduce you to most of the gang: Danilo, Fernando, Jerome, Jimmy, Jojo, Joshua, Lee, Lhevie, Mark, Michael, Myla, Nelson, Nikko, Rachele, Raffy, Ralph, Reineer, Reymond and Vincent.

TRAK Team PN Portraits

Some of them work on the aluminum frame, some on the hydraulic jacks, some on the skin or maybe quality control and final inspection… the bottom line is that they all have a part of themselves in each and every Seeker that gets shipped to us at TRAK HQ. We’ve worked with them side-by-side, face-to-face to make sure they are supported in producing the very finest product possible. We are like family now.

IMG_0349If you’re reading this far, then you can probably feel how proud we are to have this unique relationship with our TRAK Team in the Philippines. We’ve brought some perspective and balance to the fearful perception that offshore factories are all “sweat shops” and the reactions to the pervasive economic damage of “outsourcing” to recognize that the world has shrunk and our family is global now. In fact, for as long as we’ve had canoes (and kayaks), sailors and merchants alike have been navigating across the Pacific and trading all kinds of goods, exporting and importing everything from shells to Seekers. The world is richer for it and it is a direct way we’re connected globally.

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Here in the Philippines, we’ve found a unique manufacturing partner with integrity and compassion. We’ve seen it with our own eyes and felt it in our hearts. This is a work environment that truly values every individual and the unique skills they can bring to the final product. It’s also a facility where you could eat off the floor and where the job gets done so that we can, in turn, make promises to our customers. It is a company that takes care of people, that, in turn, has made every employee into an extended family member with the rights and the values we expect in our own society.

IMG_0419If you’ve recently bought a TRAK or you’re thinking of owning one, there’s a piece of the Philippine Islands and the Pacific Ocean, of that massive volcano and the tropical jungle, of the minds and hearts of the TRAK Team through the many hands that had to work together to make the ultimate high-performance portable kayak to help unleash your life.

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“I’m not gonna make it”

This is a realization that I have always feared in certain things I’m up to or commit myself to. Most everyone feels this every now and again, that feeling that “I’m not good enough” or “I’m just not the right person to do this well or effectively”. I grew up playing hockey and baseball, and have always been very competitive and set high standards for myself. In hockey, I was the team’s goaltender, and in baseball, I pitched and played shortstop, where I was once named “the General” for how I conducted my game from the shortstop position.

Nolin - Lake Louise

Paddling solo at Lake Louise, Alberta – 2013

I have always been a leader on my sports teams, and set a high bar for myself in terms of my contribution to the team’s successes or failures. Nothing changed when I set out to run TRAK and bring this amazing product to the world. I recently recognized that I had a simple fear of failure, and even worse, the fear that I’m the reason for the failure.

Just imagine how I felt when I found out that this was TRUE! (…sigh)

As I completed my 2013 year and prepared myself (and TRAK) for 2014, I found myself in a difficult place emotionally. I wasn’t sleeping as well, and I found this constantly on my mind. With my team, I completed an updated business plan for TRAK as we enter 2014. When I finished the update, I couldn’t help but be extremely impressed with its contents. From a pure business perspective, the company has every opportunity to be a top brand in the outdoor industry, with its ‘game-changing’ innovation, with so many unique ways of approaching the market and with a global market footprint. Also, I constantly experience the same reaction from people that come into contact with TRAK and this venture. That common reaction is, “Wow, what a cool company and what a great product.” So why had it not been flourishing to the level that I believe is possible? Could it be me? Oh, I hope not!

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New TRAK Paddler Allie Carroll in Panama

Like many entrepreneurs, I got the company started and do what I do because of the passion I have for what these products and what this (ad)venture can offer the world, one passionate paddler at a time. I also believe in the vast potential of the pursuit of kayaking, knowing that TRAK kayaks have the unique characteristics that could help open up the market and give people interested in paddling the reason to do it and be transformed by the experience!

I have always been the kind of person that gets a lot of personal “juice” from the stories of people out there living a life, journeying and paddling in a way that elevates their existence and gives them an indescribable joy. I got an email from a TRAK owner last week who said that he was able to go paddling last week (due to a combination of unusually mild weather and the portability advantage of the TRAK Seeker) and was gifted with a visit from two sea eagles off the coast of Estonia. He described this magical feeling of being intimately connected with nature due to this “lining up of circumstances” and what the TRAK kayak made available to him… I got goose bumps! This type of thing happens regularly.

I believe that each positive experience like this reverberates and spreads, and that when you commit to every owner experience, that over time, the venture succeeds and the experiences spread like wild fire. That has generally been the case with TRAK.

What I have discovered though (several times over now!) is that running and growing a small business is challenging, and it requires many elements to be navigated simultaneously and sometimes just having things happen in a way that seems like the universe aligned itself. This is especially the case when navigating “rough water”!

When the company first brought our kayaks to market in 2006-07, we tried to do too much, too quickly, and got ahead of ourselves, and ahead of the market (acceptance and volume). Enter Failure #1. It was the end of 2008 and 2009 when we came to this realization. It was a very tough time for me and many others. I was determined to do it differently this time. I set out to ‘reset’ TRAK in 2010-11, and wanted to do this in a smart, frugal fashion, and believe in a “crawl, walk and then run” approach. So after putting a solid foundation in place from late 2010 until 2012 and 2013, we were ready for growth. Well, it came, but not near as quickly as I had hoped for and not in a way that would make the venture ‘sustainable’ financially in the short term. So, I asked: “Why is this?”

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My Family at TRAK HQ – Summer 2013

One night a couple weeks ago, I talked to my wife Holly about it. I rely on her in so many ways. She is an amazing wife and a phenomenal mother. We got married in 2008, and have had 2 children since. Logan is now 4 years old and our little girl Eliah is almost 2. Being a great father and husband is a VERY high priority to me. For me, being an extraordinary family man is about providing for your family, and also showing your children to follow their passions through your actions and choices. So my choice to be an entrepreneur and create a life that I love is important to me… first for me to feel lit up about my life, and secondly to show our children what is possible if you follow your dreams and do something very cool and do it successfully. It has to “provide” though. There is always a fine line that an entrepreneur has to walk in terms of the economics of a situation, the timing and the commitment to your family. I am a Chartered Accountant by training, so my profession would offer me a healthier immediate living than the choice of running an early-stage venture. For this I thank my wife. Holly is extremely understanding of this, and has supported me “more than” fully over the past 6 years.

So this is why I rely on our partnership, and why I check in with Holly about these things from time to time. When I told her how I was feeling, her immediate response was, “Well, it can’t be you…you are doing so much and you are so good at what you do. But what is it? You need to look at what is missing in the business plan and what might be behind this fear. You should talk to Nicholas about this!”.

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Nicholas and I in Peru –  2008

I called Nicholas. We got together the next day! Nicholas has been a long-time friend, business partner and owner in TRAK. He and I work together very effectively, and I always come away with a greater sense of self and empowered when we work together. He has an uncanny ability to “see things” and to help people see what’s working and what’s not working, and see how you can take responsibility personally for what has happened or not happened. In that way, it is sometimes a bit scary to meet with him! But I was ready to produce a breakthrough here. Something had to shift.

After I shared “the world” of what was going on with me and how I was feeling fear that I might be the cause for some pending TRAK failure that I had created in my mind, we took a short break and asked for some answers to surface and break through. We reviewed and discussed some of the elements of the business plan and the sales and marketing programs and strategies, balancing that off with reviewing actual results and getting grounded in what has really been happening (working and not working).

Then Nicholas said: “You’re right. You’re not gonna make it.”

Heart stop.

Me: What?!?!

Nicholas: “Well, what’s missing from the TRAK business plan is PEOPLE. Specifically a sales team. You have set yourself up in a game that can not be won… by yourself. You need to recruit a sales team.”

What a revelation! You need people to scale a company, increase sales, and to give the venture the best chance of success. But how do you do that on a limited budget? Isn’t this a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” conundrum? Well, it’s the conundrum that practically every entrepreneur needs to solve at some point along the venture’s path. Some people say it’s the point that the ‘solopreneur’ evolves into an entrepreneur that successfully grows and scales a company… or faces the possibility that the venture fails.

Well, I can’t do it myself. Then how do I do it? I need to build a team of people. From where do I start? How about starting with the people that know the product best, and have been given the experiences that the TRAK kayak provides: our owners!

Nobody's River Expedition

TRAK mobilizes Nobody’s River Project in Russia!

So, 2014 is the year to MOBILIZE… if you are a TRAK owner and wish to share your experience with others as an ambassador, then we have a program for you. Also, TRAK is now building a Global Mobile Sales Team! We are looking for passionate TRAK paddlers that want to build a sideline business as a TRAK sales agent in their area with their unique flavour, set of circumstances and approach. We know how important it is to have people out there that are living it (paddling their TRAK and exploring), then sharing it (through their circles and with other interested paddlers), and then selling it (for returned reciprocity).

This program will support and help us grow our Dealer network around the world. Our product is uniquely positioned to do this, as it’s a higher price point item (good-sized “commission”) that is literally portable. The Seeker is a full sea kayak that packs down into a travel golf bag in 10 minutes! Perfect! This combination of “features” allows TRAK paddlers to build their influence in their local paddling communities, and help build a Mobile Paddling Community within their circles. These folks will guide, navigate and offer their expertise and experience to potential TRAK paddlers and will be offered great benefits to do so! It’s a program I’ve always dreamed of, and now is the time to have it come into fruition.

Sometimes facing your fear of failure is just an opportunity to plant a seed of something that creates a thing far bigger or better.

Napolean Hill once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

I’m so glad “I’m not gonna make it”… on my own!

~ Nolin

Nolin Veillard, Owner & President TRAK Outdoors Ltd.

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TRAK Unleashed: Vanuatu

Back in the winter of 2012, 4 good mates from Australia set off on adventure to the South Pacific in the Vanuatu islands. One of the most stunning paddling destinations this planet has to offer. Here is what Mick wrote to us when they got back from their trip:

Traveler

Hi Nolin, nice to hear from you. We thought it should be illegal for 4 middle aged men to have so much fun, so we tried to get the rookie (Bill) arrested so we could sell his kayak. It didn’t work.
– Mick

Here is their story!

As written by Mick Shankie:

The planning for the 2012 Vanautu trip took place over a couple of beers one year earlier. The three of us (Grant, Brian & Mick) had just returned from a two week paddling trip through the Gilli island group. Each of us had folding kayaks. Brian & myself had TRAK kayaks and Grant had a Feathercraft. The Boss (Grant) proposed Vanuatu after reading a blog about Tranquility Island Resort. So early May 2012 four of arrived in the picturescue Vanuatu islands.

IMG_0184Now we had a rookie named Bill to carry our bags, or so we thought. He had different ideas. Transporting the kayaks was hassle free, no excess baggage fees. That night we settled in with a few wild turkeys and a good nights sleep. Next morning after a hearty feed of bacon & eggs, we assembled the kayaks, and planned scouting trip. Beautiful crystal clear waters and blue skies greeted us, as we set out on a 20km trip, to assess the tidal flow at the top of the island. Arriving at our destination at the bottom end of the tide, it was apparent that any trip planning would depend on the tidal flow. One hour before the bottom of the tide and our passage was blocked by exposed reef, which spanned across 300m to the main island.

The next day we planned to circumnavigate the island; a total of 32km. Again the conditions were ideal, it is Vanuatu custom to ask permission of the village chief, to land on their beach, or snorkel on their reef. With this in mind we paddled along the coastline, looking for the village. The first settlement we came across was the island primary school, thinking this was the village we landed to ask permission.

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We were greeted by a small group of school kids, which quickly turned into a very large group of school kids. Then their teacher and the principal, all of whom were happy to see us. They must have thought we were crazy. In Vanuatu the canoe is a method of transport, or for fishing. Here we are paddling just for the sake of paddling. The kids were so excited to see us; I offered to take one kid for a quick trip in the kayak. I towed the TRAK along in the shallows while the kid attempted to paddle. The other 90 or so kids were in fits of laughter. As we left to cheers and waving, I pretended to fall out of my kayak, then rolled over all together, the kids loved it.

We arrived at the top of the island with the tidal stream running flat out. This was like a fast flowing river. As we passed through the narrow opening we were greeted by the most amazing site. A volcano rose out of the crystal blue waters some 16km away.

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We were all astonished by the pure majesty of this towering volcano. Lunch was on what was arguably the most idyllic beach in the world.
The water has such a high salt content that you can float with no effort. We sat there and watched the locals snorkeling and netting fish for dinner.

That was the largest distance we traveled during the trip. The following day we were joined by a couple more friends, whom were on their kayaking honeymoon. (Congratulations John & Tina). They were paddling 3-piece Valley kayaks, they had brought with them from Melbourne. To celebrate their union we headed for a luxury resort (Havana resort) on the main island, some 2.4 km away, cold beer, great coffee & the best toasted sandwiches in the whole entire world. Another 2 km further along we found the Wahoo bar, good food, cold beer, and a deck which is counter-levered over the water. From this point on the day trips were shorter, but always seem to end at Havana or Wahoo. Great trip, fantastic location, good people, and value for the money!

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