What follows is the journey of Optimus to make it home to Mike MacKay and the love of a Region IV paddle community. It’s the tale of how his beloved paddle Optimus crossed borders, cities, landscapes, shared time, conversation and a little funk music with the paddle elite, a Hall of Famer no less!!! and even snuck in a vote at the APTA Annual General Meeting, all in the quest to get back to Toronto safe and sound.

Joe Ryan from Rochester, NY :

“Anyone lose a paddle? I seem to have an extra one in my bag.”


Now, the tricky part. How do we get Optimus back to Mike? Paddlers ‘do it all year ‘in Toronto so we couldn’t wait until the Rochester Open in the Fall to reunite the two. A plan needed to be struck – and quickly.

Joe suggested that he bring Optimus to Buffalo the season-ending tournament in that city. Sure someone from Niagara could come to pick it up. I mean, it’s Canada and all of your cities are within a 20 minute drive of each other, right.

Sigh… Americans, can’t live with ‘em, pass the beer nuts. Nope – not gunna work. Plan B was implemented.

The players

  • Mike and Joe, you’ve now met these two.
  • Suzanne, tournament director who suffers from extreme guilt-I need to right all wrongs syndrome.
  • Brad McIlroy, Mike’s friend who has too much time on his hands.
  • Sara & Fritz, whose participation as APTA Board members were key figures in the return of Optimus.

The plan

  • Joe to ensure Optimus is kept in the manner to which he has been accustomed until official hand-off which apparently included a side trip to Buffalo to kibbutz with the locals.
  • Joe to hand off Optimus to Fritz.
  • Fritz to drive Optimus to Boston, ensuring all car safety measures adhered to.
  • Fritz to hand off Optimus to fellow APTA Board member Sara.
  • Sara to fly home with Optimus (which meant making room in luggage, an exercise is significant pre-planning  for Canadians who are addicted to Target).
  • Sara to hand off Optimus to Suzanne.
  • Suzanne to deliver Optimus to Mike in time for First Tuesday Night League Match.

The proof

Joe showing Optimus around town in Buffalo.





Optimus taking part in rehydration ceremony in Buffalo.





Optimus fully strapped in and safety-goggled en route to Boston care of Hall of Famer, Fritz Odenbach.

Optimus patiently waiting for his owner to arrive.

Cue Peaches and Herb “Reunited and it feels so good!”

The aftermatch

  • Joe lost his Tuesday night league match.
  • We had a ton of laughs.
  • We had welcome-back beers (who’s kidding who, we would have had those anyway!)

Thanks for the fun everyone. Here’s hoping Mike gets to travel to tournaments as much as his paddle next season!


What I did on my paddle vacation
What's new with Viking Athletics?

Patricio Misitrano