41 thoughts on “Testimonials

  1. 2019 was my first Texas Water Safari. My partner and I completed it in 85 hours. Let me assure you that we would have never made it without the fantastic training of Holly Orr. I have been flat water canoeing for 64 years but never ventured into white-water or fast rivers. And most of my time was as a stern paddler. Holly not only helped my racing stroke she made me into an expert “draw” paddler in the bow. we made every rapid on the San Marcos look easy and even ran Broken Dam Son of Ottine at night flawlessly. We never flipped once in the entire 264 miles. Thank you Holly you are a real gem!!

  2. Our oldest two kids adore attending paddling camp. They love spending a week on the river, learning invaluable skills. Holly is knowledgeable and a wonderful instructor, who demonstrates a sweet rapport with kids. We will continue to sign the kids up and our younger kids can’t wait to be able to join them.

  3. We took a Girl Scout troop kayaking at night. It was beautiful and peaceful. We didn’t see much nightlife except for a lot of bugs and maybe a turtle, but it was still worth it.
    The guides were knowledgeable and nice.

  4. I have had (2) skirts custom made from Paddle with Style. Service was great, on time, and with high quality.

    Thank you!!!!

  5. It has been many years since I paddled. While planning a reunion with old college buddies I contacted Holly for a re-introduction to paddling. We started with basic strokes while on dry land and after a couple of hours on the water Holly had subtly taught me more knowledge on controlling my canoe than I had ever known. She has a quiet and patient style of teaching and shows a wealth of experience.

    Thrilled with the first lesson, I scheduled another in a kayak. Andy took me from Martindale to Staples and we had a blast. Starting on land with basic strokes and safety like before, Andy would pull us over in the eddies of small rapids and teach different techniques all the while teaching river awareness. This young man with vast experience on class IV and V water showed genuine happiness to be with a beginner on this gentle section of river.

    You will not be disappointed with Paddle with Style.

  6. I just moved back to the area and wanted to reorient to my kayak and the San Marcos river. I have taken two awesome classes with Holly. She is a really positive instructor, and takes time with each student. I would highly recommend Paddling With Style.

  7. Awesome instruction, took the crash course to racing in preparation for the Texas water safari. Helped us figure out a lot of information and was willing to answer all my questions. Gave us plenty to work on and I hope to take more lessons in the fall. If you’re considering the Texas water safari you should definitely put a lesson with padding with style on your check list.

  8. I am planning on doing the Texas Water Safari. I wanted to prepare by working on my paddling and boat handling skills so I took the Crash Course/Intro to racing course with Holly. Holly is a great instructor. It was really helpful to go over the basic stokes and practice steering and working as a team in a tandem canoe. We put all the skills we learned together and slalomed through some logs in the river which was fun and built up my confidence. It was also nice just being out on the San Marcos paddling around. I plan to take more courses in the future.

  9. I’ve now completed three different paddling excursions with Holly and Paddle with Style–two with Holly and one with her colleague, Drake. Each time has been enjoyable, relaxing, and fun!! I have learned my basic paddling skills from Holly. She is patient teaching me and I feel confident on the water. I plan on taking more trips with Holly until I gain enough skills and confidence to take to the water on my own. Holly is the bomb.

  10. We took the float trip with Holly from Martindale to Staples over Spring Break with 2 adults and 4 youth. Holly was acclimating some new guides (experienced paddlers) to her structure and style — a great thing to see!

    Holly and her guides were fantastic as always — patient and encouraging, meeting everyone at their level, from the exuberant teenagers who just wanted to GO, to the newbies who needed extra coaching and time. They want everyone to have a enjoyable and successful experience and it shows.

    Thanks also to Holly, who was patient and encouraging to me earlier in the morning, when it was cold and windy and I wasn’t sure if the trip was still a good idea. It turned out to be a beautiful day on the river and I’m glad we went.

  11. I booked 2 hours of Holly Orr’s time to help me perfect my kayaking paddling. We mainly worked on my forward stroke, but I also learned some other strokes that I didn’t know – mainly draws to use while moving forward.

    Holly was a great instructor and a very pleasant person to work with. I came away with numerous specific actions I can take with respect to my paddling form, boat set-up, and physical training – on and off the water.

    I strongly recommend her for this sort of activity.

    Phil Salvador

  12. I had booked a tour for my son, granddaughter and myself after doing a lot of research. I wanted the best tour guide, as we were totally new to the kayaking sport. I was surprised to find outfitters that just dropped people and gear off, basically abandoning them, without kayak knowledge or skills on a river they had never been on! Scary!! Ms. Holly made exception in order to get us booked and we were really looking forward to the experience. Unfortunately, my son got seriously injured with major head laceration requiring stitches, concussion and badly wrenched knee the day before the tour. I was forced to contact Holly and cancel. She was very gracious about it and showed concern for my son. She is professional but also has a heart. I am very grateful for her response and when my son is healed , we will ABSOLUTELY re-book with Paddle With Style. My advice: Book with the Best – Holly.

  13. In 2015 I found interest in Canoe racing, soon after I found Holly with Paddle With Style. Since that day, I have gone to Holly for Every lesson, boat purchase, accessory and river/boat related question. I even found my current racing partner at her class back in September of 2016, who I would have looked right over had she not pulled me aside and gave me her professional advice on our compatibility. This last week, June 10th 2017 my partner and I took off on for our Novice attempt of the “world’s toughest canoe race” The Texas Water safari. It is 260+ miles of river racing to the bay for the final 6 miles of the race. It tests you in everyway you can and cannot imagine, the race has a 100 hour cut off along with 10 different check points that have time cut offs as well. It took us 95 hours and 45 minutes to complete this race. I can say without a doubt that Holly/Paddle with Style 100% to thank for being able to complete this race. The stroke style she uses and teaches is long and powerful, it allows for more than enough power behind it to get you up and moving, to be fast enough to win, while still being able to preserve muscles strength and plenty of recovery time to be able to paddle for 96 hours of almost continuous paddling without my muscles failing. On top of that she also teaches how to use all of your body to move forward vs just your arms/shoulders which in means you can go for longer with less effort. She’s also taught me how to read and navigate water and how to get through fast moving water safe. Her knowledge on self care on the water also gave me the ability to come home from 96 hours of paddling without even a blister on my hands and very little unmanageable muscle weakness. (Some is to be expected after such a grueling race). So no matter if you are looking to get out and enjoy the river for a day or weekend with a guided tour, sharpen up your skills as a recreational paddled so you can spend more time enjoying the water vs hurting after or you’re ready to take on your first attempt at the Texas water safari, Holly at Paddle with Style is the place you want to stop first. She is the. First person I call for any water need and one of the few I truly trust to guide me in my river adventures!!

  14. Holly is great to work with. She was very accommodating when we want to rent equipment for our boy scout troop.

  15. We greatly enjoyed our tour from Martindale. Holly gave great instruction and had great patience with those who were inexperienced. We enjoyed the whole trip – beautiful scenery and weather away from the bustle of other spring break events.

  16. Though not on her schedule, Holly put together a moonlight trip on the San Marcos River for us. She’s the perfect guide – from her knowledge of the history of the river to knowing where every stick, tree, and current are to help make the most out of our paddling trip (btw- I sat up front, and my guy did all the paddling…). We highly recommend Holly if you’re interested in a canoe adventure!

  17. I took a private lesson with Holly to help me prepare for the 2016 Yukon River Quest. She quickly reconstructed my stroke to make it more efficient and powerful (and was fun to paddle with as well!). After practicing what she taught me I improved my flatwater speed by about .3 mph, equating to several hours of time saved in the YRQ. If you paddle with Holly you will get positive results.

  18. Holly is great! I have rented canoes and equipment from Holly for both the 2015 and 2016 Texas Water Safari and have taken classes with her to prepare for the race. Starting with precious little experience, I finished both years with Holly’s help. Her instruction and advice was critical to our Safari success. She’s a champion racer, but will patiently deal with those of us who don’t know so much about water sports. So whether you are thinking about a 260 mile canoe race or a looking for a canoe camp for the kids, I could not recommend her more highly.

  19. Holly was great. We were two 30 year olds that thought we knew enough to get down river and fast. OH HOW WRONG WE WERE. We rented a boat from her, she talked us through all the questions we had, she coached us where we needed help, and she did all that while we were out of town.

    We signed up to do the TWS and rented our boat from PWS and the service was awesome. We never would have done as good as we did if it weren’t for her. If you are a first timer to running the TWS and, especially if you are going in coming in from out of town or are new to the sport, Holly will make your experience better.

  20. We took several lessons from Holly and rented a canoe from her as well. This ended up working out great as we won the novice division of the Texas Water Safari. Holly was a wealth of knowledge and was happy giving us advice throughout our training regimen. We would highly recommend.

  21. I highly recommend Holly as an instructor and guide. I have used her multiple times for our church youth camp canoe/kayaking adventures. Our group always enjoys their time on the water with Paddle with Style,and parents feel confident knowing that we are in her care.

  22. “Thank goodness for Holly I never knew I needed a guide till I got on the river Even a tiny current needed a bit of guidance And not having to cook afterwards was the cherry on top We had an amazing time and would recommend to anyone Great little trip for beginners Really loved seeing my boys active and enjoying nature”

  23. GRADE: A++++++++
    What an amazing San Marcos River trip!!! Holly provided great equipment and more importantly great instruction.

    This was all delivered in the package of: Great Communication, Patience, Prepared, and enthusiasm.

    She took a group of West Texas boys with no river experience and taught us how to “Paddle With Style.”

    From the moment she started we were comfortable, because she and her team works with a smile on their face and a kind and gentle spirit. and she helps you get there quickly and with a kind method. Holly know the river and possibly knows all the rocks, trees and fish in the water. The Paddle With Style team would calmly take control of any problem and help us fix them as well and teach us how to keep that situation from being a problem in the future.

    Paddle With Style made our 4 day river trip so fun.
    Thanks so much for being flexible and fun. Trail Life Troop 619 could have not asked for a better experience. Holly knows her business.
    GRADE: A++++++++

  24. Ms.Holly taught us Canoe lessons at Hope Christian Academy on Fridays. We loved our canoe lessons because we didn’t spend hours and hours listening to rules and lessons (like we do in school), even though Ms.Holly did teach us safety lessons seriously, we got into the water almost right away!

    Each class had something new and exciting, never boring. We didn’t just paddle around. Ms.Holly knew a lot about the wildlife and wild flowers too. So we got to explore those things along the way which was really cool. We saw dear, turtles and lots of different types of wildflowers.

    Ms.Holly was good at making sure no one got out of control but she always kept calm and positive. She encouraged us to explore and discover new things and to challenge ourselves.

    The best part about the lessons was that we were not just LEARNING what to do we were actually DOING it. She didn’t just TEACH us, she helped us EXPERIENCE new things. It was the best!

  25. Being a true novice paddler looking at racing the 2015 Texas water safari ive been able to pick up a lot of the basic information from just paddling with others and watching what they do. However my partner and I decided it wouldnt hurt to take a course from Holly just to make sure we were doing the best we could. We spent a few hours on the water with her, and goodness it made us worlds better. She was kind and caring in her instructions on what to fix or work on with our stroke, she explained the benefits of making the small changes. On top of that she was able to teach us more advanced skills that later have helped us navigate through much more difficult waters. With her instruction we have been able to train smarter and not harder. I would highly recommend taking lessons through Holly no matter what your skill level is. I know I will be going back soon for her next lesson!

  26. After floundering for 2 years in a C1, I finally took a personal, one-on-one lesson with Holly. Four weeks later I paddled a training run from San Marcos City Park to Staples and, with virtually identical water levels, bested my 2013 Jr. Water Safari race time by 20 minutes. Thanks Holly!

  27. As a newbie to paddling and the safari in ’14, Holly was a Godsend. I have to say….I absolutely would not have finished the race if it had not been for Holly’s training. Here’s what we had working against us: 1)no paddling experience, much less the safari; 2)my partner lived in Singapore and we were only able to train together a grand total of 3 hours; 3,4,5)no paddling experience. So, my wife did some research and found Holly as she knew I would not be prepared for the Safari without Holly’s help. My wife (one of our team captains) and I worked with Holly on multiple occasions. She is an awesome teacher….very patient with us when we were clueless. She taught us all of the basics and watched us practice and could easily pick up things we were doing right and wrong. She taught me enough that I was able to give my buddy a crash course in paddling when he arrived from abroad the day before the race. Also, she has infinite knowledge about the safari as she has multiple finishes (and holds a new Safari Record….Go Holly). Her knowledge about race nutrition, gear, strategies,etc was priceless. There are so many nuances to that race that you don’t consider as a first timer, and she makes sure you are aware of these things and are prepared to deal with them. She also is available….I called her many times to ask questions when they came up during training. Also, if your a newbie and need a boat (or other rental gear) for the race….she has some great ones that you will have a hard time finding elsewhere. So….if you want to learn to paddle…Holly can teach you….if you want to finish the Safari…Holly will most definitely give you all the knowledge and encouragement you need to do it. Thanks Holly. You are awesome!!!
    Proud 2014 Safari Finishers Boat #0001 Novice class: Ed Ray and Wade Krause
    Finished in honor of our fallen brother 1LT Clovis T. Ray

  28. The key characteristics I look for when getting instruction is Patience, positivity and preparedness. Holly exemplifies all of these. She understands that when you first get in that boat, you aren’t comfortable, and she helps you get there quickly and with a kind method. She stays positive, helps you see what you’re doing right and helps your identify and correct your opportunities quickly. She’s prepared for anything. This comes from the fact that she’s so experienced on the river. She is prepared for anything you face on the river. For example, another pair of paddlers in our group tipped their boat and got it stuck in a sweeper. She was able to calmly take control of the situation and teach us all how to handle this situation and recover the boat and stay safe the whole time. This key learning saved me and my partner just a few weeks later.

    If you want to learn to paddle, go with Holly. If you want to finish the Texas Water Safari you should take multiple lessons from her and ask her all of your questions. Then you need to listen to her and follow those directions. She’s not pushy, but she’s right!

    We owe a great deal of our finish to Holly. She was an awesome instructor and a great person to just get to hang out with on the river. You’ll be better off for knowing her!

    Team WestWard Dynamite – 2014 Safari Novice Finishers!

  29. Two years ago I became interesting in racing the Texas Water Safari and found Holly Orr who gave me the most support I’ve received in achieving my goal of getting to the finish line. Thank you so much for your help with lessons, rental equipment, and the support I needed to succeed! Melissa James

  30. I got to spend a couple hours with Holly this week paddling on the San Marcos to help me learn steering down river and understanding the water: where to go when etc. She not only had great patience, she was clear in her communication, and ensured I understood before continuing. I have very little experience in twisty rivers and even tho I enjoy flatwater best, I am learning to enjoy the ripply stuff too. Holly helped me create some success and therefore confidence to get out there more often. Thanks Holly –

  31. My husband and I have taken several lessons from Holly and have learned SO much! We are truly novice canoers and would have been “dead in the water” without her!!! She not only helped with canoeing and paddling basics but also helped us with rack placement for our truck, best tie-downs, where to purchase them, as well as showing us how to tie down the canoe!!!! She even scheduled an impromptu lesson for us with hardly any notice!!! We’re thinking about one of her guided day trips and maybe even an over-nighter!!! We can’t think of anyone we would rather go down the river with!!! You’re in good hands with Holly!!!

  32. Thank you so much for putting on the kids canoe camp. My boys had a wonderful time and will most definitely return. I can’t get enough of their stories and the way they present them – priceless!

  33. I have had Holly work with me three different times and I have benefited each time. The first was a lesson my partner and I had just prior to the 2011 Texas Water Safari. Trust me when I say that this absolutely saved us because we were so out of sync with each other we were on the verge of a serious fracture in our friendship. Holly quickly realized and corrected our differing strokes and then taught us how to work together to get the boat do what we wanted. That made all the difference in the world as we went on to finish the Safari that year and really enjoyed our experience. She is currently working with me in my attempt to solo in The Texas Water Safari for 2012. Her lessons on how to “RACE” a marathon instead of how to just “FINISH” a marathon are making a huge difference in my training and racing in preparation for the 2012 Texas Water Safari. I highly recommend spending some time with Holly and you WILL notice a difference.
    #2112 Team N.A.D.S.

  34. I have raced with two of my kids in several races. They are 10 and 12. They also have been taking canoe lessons with Holly Orr (paddlewithstyle.com) for about 6 months and it has really helped them.
    You should really contact Holly if you are serious about getting the kids into the sport. She does a great job and is really good with the kids.

  35. Anyone considering entering the Safari for the first time, lessons with Holly should be ranked number 1 on the list. Her knowledge of race prep and paddling technique proved invaluable to our success.

    2010 Inglorious Bastards
    Successful first time safari finish

  36. Holly,
    Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for todays lesson. Although we do have experience on the water, the whole paddling a canoe will take some time to perfect. However, after your lesson today I’m sure that time will now be greatly reduced. To anyone considering a lesson, dont consider,…..think Nike and just DO IT!!! very well worth the money. Again, thanks.


  37. After finishing the Tx Water Safari this past week I have to come on and say AGAIN how much Holly has helped us!!! It did not stop with the lessons: She not only helped us with our strokes, but helped us with our food, outfitting our canoe and general support. She was there at almost EVERY check point cheering us on- and with 2 BABIES in tow!!!! I cannot say enough about this lovely, spirited, generous woman. ANYONE with the opportunity to work with her should ABSOLUTELY do so!!!!! I am at a loss for words!!!! Thank you Holly!

    First time TWS finish: 2nd place Women’s
    Team: Hot Sweaty Blondes #746

  38. Whether you are looking for recreational paddling to elite canoe/kayak racing instruction, Holly is an invaluable resource. If you have never touched a paddle before or are looking to brush up on your technique for a race, she can assist you on your way to “paddling with style”. She can also give training suggestions, gear recommendations, nutrition information, and other advice that will definitely come in handy, no matter what your goals are.

    A note to beginner paddlers for recreation: Paddling can bring a lot of fun to a weekend adventure, however, it can also bring a lot of frustration if your group does not know the basics for going straight, turning the canoe, etc. I guided river trips for 7 years; it is essential to equip your group with the basic understanding for canoeing technique no matter what age they are. Holly can teach those essential techniques and turn a potentially frustrating and negative experience into something that will be positive, fun, and not soon forgotten.

    A note to canoe/kayak racers: Reading on the paddle24seven forum will only get you so far — you need hands on experience in order to learn. What better way than a one on one instructor?

    9 safari finishes – multiple class wins

  39. Whether you’re a beginner or already have some experience under you belt, Holly will help you become a better paddler. Not only was she able to improve our technique, but she has given us great advice on every aspect of canoeing. She is knowledgeable about it all, and can provide helpful hints about the various rivers around Texas.

    First Texas Water Safari finish: 2010 Second place women’s
    Hot Sweaty Blondes #746

  40. I highly recommend Holly as an instructor. She is very patient and enthusiastic about her teaching. She is currently teaching me to single blade and I feel I am learning so much from her.

    First Texas Water Safari finish: 2010 First place women’s
    Hippie Chick #1969

  41. I learned so much from training and racing with Holly last year! I would highly recommend Holly as a canoe instructor.

    First place women’s in Texas Water Safari
    2009 Chick Boat # 279
    2010 Hippie Chick #1969

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