Diego Robles is a young kayaker who is pushing and developing the sport in the emerging Ecuadorian paddling scene. It is a great honour to have such a great rising star and ambassador of the sport to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the kayaking world?
When I was 20 I ran Chuchaki falls in Leporacan gorge. At the time it was the tallest waterfall an Ecuadorian had run. I am always looking for something bigger to run.
When and how did you first start paddling?
I started when I was 14 years old. My older brother bought a kayak after watching some gringos boat the local rivers in Tena, Ecuador. Through trial and error he taught himself to boat. I was inspired by this, and would steal his kayak to teach myself. I met a gringo by the name of Dan Dixon who taught me how to roll. From there I justed started running rivers.
What is your current location?
What scares you the most?
To run a big drop after watching my buddies mess up the line.
What was the biggest hurdle in kayaking when you first started?
The biggest hurdle is finding people to paddle with. When I first started there just weren’t that many boaters in Ecuador.
What has kept you in the sport?
I love the sport, but beyond that I want to bring awareness to Ecuador’s rivers because so many of them are at risk of being dammed right now. If we can save the rivers then kayaking can grow in this coutnry.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration in the sport and why?
Evan Garcia because we are roughly the same age. He makes it look easy and I learn by watching him kayak.
Given the choice where do you want to paddle and why?
Probably the Southeast of the United States. I’ve have paddling buddies over there and from the footage I’ve seen it looks incredible. Ecuador will always be home and I want to continue exploring river here.
What do you consider the biggest accomplisment in the world of kayaking to date?
For me it is the rapid growth of the sport. I recently watched a documentary called The Perfect Environment-The Growth of China’s Kayaking Communinty. It describes the growth of whitewater kayaking in China. I imagine the same thing happening in Ecuador.
How do you get yourself in the zone before a competition run or when running a challenging peice of water?
Before running a big drop I take a second to tell myself “Diego, you can do this”. After that I just push out in the current and go.
What is your favorite kayak of all time?
The Zet Raptor. Its fast, it has volume and it doesn’t break.
What would like to see happen in the world of kayaking?
I would love to see an Ecuadorian compete in the Grand Prix.
Many Thanks Diego!