In Recognition of Veterans Day ACK Honors US Military Service Men & Women with Special Promotion

ACK provides free 24-hour kayak rentals and select discounts to US military veterans and current service men and women during a three day event

Austin, Texas (November 05, 2013) – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC announced today their plans to honor United States military veterans as well as active duty service men and women with a three day Veteran’s Day promotion which includes free rentals as well as discounts up to 20% off select items.

“To all the men and women who have volunteered to serve their country, we at ACK want to show our appreciation for your sacrifices and dedication,” said Alan Ely, manager of the ACK Spring Store and Navy veteran, “I encourage veterans to take advantage of this opportunity to get out on the water – it’s an experience that always helps me find a release from the everyday stresses of life and I think it will for you as well.”

From Nov. 9th through the 11th, store-goers who present a valid military ID card or DD-214 will receive a free 24 hour kayak rental as well as discounts on select kayaks and accessories (free rentals and discounts exclude all Hobie kayaks and accessories). Veterans are encouraged to to call their local ACK store for more details regarding this promotion.

About MSP Holdings, LLC

MSP Holdings, LLC operates Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), an award-winning paddlesports and outdoor retailer and Rack Boys a vehicle rack and sports travel outfitter dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. Both retail outfits are based out of the central Texas area, with their respective online stores at and and within five physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, Spring, Houston and San Antonio, Texas.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with MSP Holdings, LLC, please contact Malcolm Holmes at 512-687-3010, or email


ACK at the Houston Summer Boat Show

Houston Fishing Show
Houston Boat Show

It’s that time again! We’re excited to be exhibiting at the Summer Houston Boat Show this year and hope all of you can come out and visit us at the Reliant Center. We are going to be out there in full force with all of the latest Hobie Kayaks as well as a few from other brands, plus a wide range of paddling accessories. As usual, there will be fun, friendly faces and knowledgeable experts to answer all your questions. Here are all the details:

June 19-23 – Houston Boat Show
Location: Reliant Center
June 19-21, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM; June 22, 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM; June 23, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission: $10 Adults, $4 Children aged 6-12& Free of charge for children 5 & under.

Did you miss the show season earlier this year and still don’t know what these boat shows are about? Every year ACK participates in a series of Texas shows all centered around the boating industry. While the majority of other booths and exhibitors will be showing off powerboats, jet skis and other motorized watercraft, we always enjoy standing apart from the crowd with our pedal and paddle powered craft. The Houston summer show marks an opportunity to visit us and get some info that you most likely won’t have until the 2014 winter show season. Hope to see you there!

Hobie Gulf Coast Island Club

Paddlers Enjoying the Tandem Island Adventure
Paddlers Enjoying the Tandem Island Adventure

We’re excited to announce that with help from our friends, the Island Adventurers, we at ACK will be organizing the Hobie Gulf Coast Island Club.  This will be an opportunity to meet other Hobie Mirage Adventure Island and Hobie Mirage Tandem Island owners and share passions for the waterways and oceans of our world. It will assist in the introduction of Island owners to one another where dreams of sailing to places unknown and countless adventures can become a reality. Because we will be working with Efren and Daniel of the Hobie Island Adventurers, the club will also have a focus on kayak fishing, as the two of them are very experienced coastal anglers.

For those that are interested in joining or finding out more about the club, we encourage you to visit the Island Adventurers Website and forum.

The inaugural event of the club, “Sail N Tails” will be taking place Monday May 27th between 9 AM to 4 PM at 1304 Monument Dr., Freeport, TX. Here is the itinerary for the day:

9:00-10:00 am: Meet and greet and set up your Island at the boat ramp next to the Coast Guard Station on Thunder Dr. and Militia Dr.

10:00 – 10:30 am:  Safety briefing and final call/decision on sailing route to rig.

10:30 am:  Launching of the islands for sailing and fishing.

12pm:  Lunch at rig or at the sailors discretion.

2:30-3:00pm:  Return to launch point.

For more information visit
Visit Forum:

Also, check out one of their videos where they take ACK’s Jerron out beyond the breakers to do some Tandem Island fishing:



ACK Sponsors the Fly Fishing Film Tour

We’re getting excited about the Fly Fishing Film Tour and are sponsoring the film’s stop here in Austin on April 18th at the Paramount Theater. With so much excitement building about kayak fishing and especially fly fishing from kayaks, we are hoping to see even more ‘yak anglers at this year’s event than the last. See more details about the tour here and check out the trailer below! Hope to see you there.

Fly Fishing Film Tour 2013 from The Fly Fishing Film Tour on Vimeo.

Also check out our recent blog post about attending the fly fishing Troutfest event earlier this year.

ACK & Sawyer Paddles at the Reel Paddling Film Festival and Colorado River Ramble

In the midst of our busy Demo Day schedule we’ve somehow found the time to get involved with two more local Austin events with some help from our friends at Saywer Paddles. We are talking about the Reel Paddling Film Festival and the Colorado River Ramble – two events we were involved with last year (see the 2012 Ramble Recap).

Here are some details about the events:

Reel Paddling Film Festival, Friday April 12th at Fiesta Gardens

We attended this family fun event last year and were blown away by the range and caliber of films they presented. There are documentaries, instructional films and films about whitewater, canoeing, SUPing, kayak fishing, adventure travel, sea kayaking and much, much more! Find more details about the event here. We’ll be out there showing off a Mana Rip SUP paddle from Sawyer Paddles which competitors of the River Ramble will have an opportunity to win the following Sunday.

Colorado River Ramble, Sunday April 14th at Fiesta Gardens

The fourth annual Colorado River Ramble is sure to be a lot of fun again in 2013 with opportunities for everyone to participate in a series of canoe, kayak and SUP races in the heart of Austin. We’ll have a few ACK competitors in the five mile race as well as some great prizes for event goers to win including a $300 Mana Rip SUP Paddle from Sawyer Paddles! Be there as early as 6:00 AM and expect festivities to end at 2:00 PM. More details available here.

Hope to see you out there!

Training for the Iron Warrior Dash

Recently, I participated in the Iron Warrior Dash (IWD), a 15-mile off-road obstacle course. In early January I suddenly had the urge to start running again. No, this wasn’t a New Year resolution, just a coincidence that I suddenly felt the desire to begin running again. The weather here in Texas was pretty mild and running is a great way to take advantage of that. My other motivation to start running was this race. I happened to have seen an email in my junkbox from the folks that put on the Warrior Dash, that advertised that they would run three new races this year called the Iron Warrior Dash. The original Warrior Dash is a 5k with 12 obstacles; the new Iron version is 15.2 miles with 24 obstacles. I ran the 5k version in 2011 and it was a lot of fun and well produced, so this sounded like a great challenge. I invited my good friend and business partner Chris Hackerd  to join me and he heartily accepted…Truth be told he had already asked me if I wanted to do event this with him but I must not have been listening….some people say I’m hard of hearing, others say I have selective hearing…

A Goal With 10 Weeks of Training
I put together a training plan similar to one I used for a marathon I ran in 2004. The plan is essentially a graduated step-up plan, with four days of running per week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being a long run day. For example, Week #4: Monday, 4 miles, Wednesday, 3 miles, Friday, 3 miles and Saturday, 8 miles, the following week would be 5, 4, 4 and 9.

Throughout my training  I was pretty excited because I managed to stick to the schedule almost perfectly from week 1 through week 8. Unfortunately week 9 brought about a couple of wrinkles. First, I had traveled the prior week, and somehow tweaked my lower back during the trip. I’m not sure if it was the hill running I had done or the bed I slept in, but the pain was intense enough that standing up for longer than 20 minutes was near impossible. To add insult to injury, we had a rather large wind storm here while I was gone and my mother-in-law’s fence blew down. I spent a few hours rebuilding it on Friday night and in the process really aggravated my lower back and probably tore some back muscles. So running during week eight was non-existent. But by Wednesday of week nine I felt better and ran Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, although there was another wrinkle that week, which was that I was on vacation and in Colorado. So these runs were at elevation and I learned a valuable lesson here, running in Austin at 700’ on mostly flat terrain is incredibly different than running real hills or at elevation. I know, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but actually experiencing it makes it really hit home. Taking this into consideration, my next training plan will involve real hills and varied inclines on the treadmill.

Some things I did and learned along the way…First, I ran a total of 140 miles during my training period. My goal was 175, but the week and a half of injury and my vacation scrubbed two long runs.

Urban Running

Road vs. Treadmill
Treadmills…boring. Almost everyone agrees. In January about half of my runs were on treadmills but in February only 20% were treadmill and in March, none of them. I found that 3-4 miles is my limit on the rolling electric road, anything more and it bores me to tears. So to the real road I went. I learned something out there as well. I am a point to point runner. Meaning I don’t enjoy running laps, loops or circles, rather I’d really enjoy starting at point ‘A’ and finishing at point ‘B’. This revelation turned into a great experience. Not only was I running in a lot of new places, I also enjoyed the process of planning the runs. Through this I ran on routes such as starting from our neighborhood, through the University of Texas campus, around the State Capitol, down to Lady Bird Lake and along the shoreline of the lake. Nine miles of sightseeing. What an awesome experience. Obviously this takes some planning and often a partner. Fortunately my wife was always ready and willing to pick me up, drop me off or help me drop a car somewhere the night before so that my run would be fun and different. I also managed to run home from work a couple of times, a 6-mile jaunt, and then I rode my bike to work the following day to recover my car.

Trail Running (What I Learned)
I don’t have a lot of experience with trail running, at least not recent experience. Years ago I use to participate in adventure races, but that seems like forever ago. I learned one thing while training, you really need to concentrate on picking up your feet on the trail. It’s easy to shuffle along on the road, sidewalk or track, but on the trail this will most definitely lead to a trip and possibly a fall, especially as you tire.

My Training Gear

Merrell Bare Access

Shoes: I mostly run in zero drop barefoot runners. All my training was done in Merrell Bare Access and Bare Access 2 Runners and about 90% of my training runs took place on asphalt or hard packed, decomposed granite trails. I love these shoes, but when I did my first real trail run with them at a local park, I realized that I could feel even the tiniest pebble through the sole and this made for a pretty uncomfortable experience. Even though they feature an 8mm cushion, I was pretty sure I would hate them in the Iron Warrior so about three-quarters of the way through my training I got a pair of New Balance Minimus 10 Trail shoes. The Minimus appeared to have a more substantial sole, more conducive to trails.

NB Minimus

While these aren’t a zero drop shoe like my Merrills, they are close with only a 4mm drop.  I can’t find a spec for the cushion thickness but the bottoms looked much more conducive to trails, so I gave them a shot. While I wouldn’t recommend them for extreme off-road running through unpacked trails, they worked really well for my purpose on hard packed trails. They are light at 8 oz., durable with a grippy Vibram sole and they drain well, which is super important in a race that involves multiple water crossings.

Compression Socks and Sleeves: I experimented with several versions of compression socks and a set of compression sleeves for my calves. The socks I run in are the CEP Progreesive Running Socks. I ran in them for most of my long runs as well as some of the shorter ones. I also wore a pair for several hours after many of the long runs. While it is difficult for me to quantify how helpful they were, I do know that even after a 20+ mile week of running, that my legs while tired, were in much better shape than I ever expected.

Hydration & Food: Leading up to the race I used a waist mounted bottle system from CamelBak called the Arc 4 Hydration Belt, it features four convenient 8 oz. snap-in bottles that are easy to remove and replace while maintaining pace. The back band of the belt has a small zipper pocket for keys or maybe some gels. It seems to awkward with four bottles so I removed the two from the front. While it was good for 16 oz. of water when I needed it, I just never got used the weight on my waist while running.

So I learned a lot along the way. This was the most serious training that I have put in since a marathon almost a decade ago. While I missed my goal for total mileage during my training period, I feel like I built a solid foundation to which I look forward to continuing to build upon after I recover from the Iron Warrior Dash. I already have several other races on the docket to continue to motivate me throughout the spring and summer. If you’re interested in hearing more about the race itself and how I did, come check out my personal blog where I recap the event. I also share plenty of things for future races plus I some insight about the very unique obstacles.

Steve @ACK

Calling All Texas Sea Kayakers and Beyond to the 2012 Corpus Christi Paddlefast!

All sorts of kayaks show up!

Here at ACK two of our favorite things are camping and paddling. That’s why, for the second consecutive year, we’re very excited to attend the Corpus Christi Paddlefest. The event consists of 3 full days on the beach of camping, product demos, instruction, tours, beach fires and, of course, some Texas BBQ (another one of our favorite things). We are particularly excited this year because Ben Lawry, an internationally renowned kayak instructor, will be attending and instructing event goers on a variety of subjects. This is an event that draws paddlers from all over the state to attend so if you’re even remotely in the area, you should consider coming out to see what it’s all about!

For those interested in attending courses during the event, please see below for more about Ben and how to sign up. We hope to see you out there… I will be there, can’t wait! – Joseph@ACK

About Ben:
Ben has been paddling for over 35 years, and teaching/guiding for over 20. He has taught paddling on five continents and competed on three. Presently he works as head instructor and owner of Kayak Camp. He has taught kayaking at most of the leading Kayak Symposiums around the country, and now will teach at Paddlefest in Corpus Christi.

Ben presented at both the US WW symposium and the National ACA Conference in 2010. He has led trips and traveled extensively in South America, South Africa, Europe and North America. Ben splits his time now teaching paddling and working with stores to promote kayaking.

Ben’s Qualifications:

  • Outdoor Education Management Diploma, Bicton College, Exeter, GB, 1992
  • ACA Advanced WW ITE (Level 5), Advanced Open Water ITE (Level 5), Surf Level 4 ITE, Level 4 Swift Water Rescue, Level 2 SUP instructor and former Level 4ww OC + OC Level 2 coach.
  • 2010 WW Symposium Presenter and ACA Nation Instructor Conference
  • AFAA Certified Personal Trainer
  • BCU Senior Instructor and Advanced Proficiency Inland Kayak and 4 Star Sea
Learning to roll at the 2011 Paddlefest.

Signing Up for Courses:
Ben’s Teaching Schedule for Paddlefest 2012:

Friday afternoon, Sept 28, and Saturday morning  and afternoon Sept 29.  Ben will teach his famous Forward Stroke class (see video below) and a Kayak Surfing and Rough Water Handling class in addition to other classes.

The normal charge for Ben’s classes is $150 per person per class.  Fortunately Austin Canoe and Kayak and P&H Kayaks have sponsored him for Paddlefest so his classes can be offered at $25 per person per class. There will be no more than 10 students in each class.

If you would like to sign up for Ben’s classes at Paddlefest 2012, please e-mail the event coordinator at by coping the below ‘form’ (ending with ‘Name of Paddler’) and indicate what subjects you would be interested in, when you’d prefer the time, your name and paddling experience level:


Course Topics:
Kayaking  Basics for Beginners
Forward Stroke
Turning  the Kayak
Edging and Bracing
Surfing and kayaking in rough waters
Greenland kayak strokes

Please indicate your kayaking experience level:

Best time for your classes:
Friday afternoon
Saturday morning
Saturday afternoon

Name of Paddler: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________________________


There will also be other instructors offering free basic kayaking skills instruction at Paddlefest on all three days (Fri, Sat & Sun). You can sign up for those classes at Paddlefest.

All the above classes will be scheduled at appropriate locations depending upon the weather at the time.

Once they have determined the number of kayakers interested in this instruction, they will form  the classes and let you know what classes you are scheduled to attend.

Photo Blog: ACK @ Fun Fun Fun Fest Aqua Olympics 2012

ACK recently sponsored the second annual Fun Fun Fun Fest Aqua Olympics at Fiesta Gardens in Austin, Texas. We were out promoting our SurfTech SUP lineup and of course our upcoming Demo Days, giving away some swag and hanging out with the good people of Austin, Texas. The family-friendly event included SUP Jousting, SUP High Kick, a tug-o-war across the lake (with mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Council member Mike Martinez), a pro BMX launch into the water, a taco cannon (yes a taco cannon) and a lot more. In fact our very own Office Manager’s son, Jonathan, competed in SUP jousting and did well!

We had a ton of fun and met a lot of friendly faces we hope to see again in the future! – Trent @ ACK

ACK to Sponsor Fun Fun Fun Aqua Olympics

ACK is excited to sponsor the second annual Aqua Olympics, an Austin original event involving a number of off-beat water competitions coupled with a festival on land that aims to be plenty of fun. The Aqua Olympics are associated with the popular music festival FunFunFun fest and are expected to bring close to a thousand in attendance!

So what sort of competitions are there going to be? The ones we’re most excited about are those taking place from the top of a Stand Up Paddleboard. These include the SUP high kick, freestyle & jousting – winners of these events will take home $50 ACK gift certificates as well as a free 24 hour kayak/SUP rental!

Of course there will be plenty of other goings on including slip and slide races, an across the lake north vs. south shore tug of war and a number of BMX/Skateboard showings (including a ramp into the water!). For all the details see highlights from the press release below:

Fun Fun Fun Fest is excited to announce the second annual Aqua Olympics taking place at Fiesta Gardens in Austin, TX on Sunday, August 19, beginning with Opening Ceremonies and registration at 4pm. Participants will have a chance to win prizes, including passes to the festival, by competing in events ranging from Stand Up Paddle Jousting to a “Revenge of the Nerds” Belching Contest. The festivities will also include live music, food and complimentary refreshments.

Competitors and teams for all events are encouraged to quickly register at The festivities will also include pro riders soaring into the drink on the BMX Lagoon Launch and pro skaters ripping it up on the half pipe. You can also take part in giant slip n’ slide racing and other games. And, don’t forget about the FFF Taco Cannon, which will be on hand dispensing supreme taco deliciousness by the blast.

KGSR’s Andy Langer and 101X’s Trevin on the Radio will be providing the play-by-play during the competitions, while Riverboat Gamblers frontman Mike Wiebe reports live from the sidelines. No Fun Fun Fun Fest event would be complete without live music and delicious snacks. This year, Austin’s Learning Secrets DJs and FFF Fest 2012 group Orthy will perform at the Aqua Olympics, and Frank will provide delicious treats for sale on site. Complimentary refreshments will be provided.

This year, Fun Fun Fun Fest gives a respectful nod to one of the city’s other beloved festivals, Aqua Fest, which took place on the shores of Lady Bird Lake in decades past. And with the Summer Olympics heating up in London at the moment, participants should not be short on inspiration or competitive fervor.

So if you haven’t gotten your fill of Olympic events or are just in the mood for a fun-filled afternoon, come stop by our booth this Sunday! We’ll have t-shirts, a raffle & the friendliest smiles out there. Hope to see you there!