It was going to happen at some point and this little writeup has been kicking around on my Mac for almost 6 months. So here it is a Q&A with me.
Tell us a little a bit about you accomplishments in the kayaking world.
I’m not the greatest paddler and I haven’t won any major competitions. I class myself as simply a guy who loves kayaking, loves being in the water and just happens to run a website. I would therefore have to say that it is probably this site that is my biggest accomplishment in the kayaking world.
You can read about the why and how here.
When and how did you first start paddling?
I started paddling when I was around 11. My Dad had bought a general purpose fibreglass kayak. I had a go in it at a local boating lake and loved it. We soon had another kayak and we began paddling a couple of times a week. Tuesday would be a pool session and then out on the local rivers or in the surf on a Sunday.
The pool session kayaks were old fibreglass BAT kayaks. The cockpit rim was like a razors edge and I remember my legs being ragged by the end of a session. It did mean that my balance developed really quickly.
I paddled at least once a week from there on in with some weekend trips away now and again.
What is your current location?
North East of England. Teesside – around 15 minutes from the Tees Barrage WW Course. I’m fortunate enough to have year round water at the Barrage and still be close enough to some of UK’s best surf spots and white water rivers.
What scares you the most?
I guess it would be a situation where I wasn’t in control and wasn’t able to depend on my wits or skill to get myself out of.
Getting stuck in a rip tide – I had this experience when I was around 13/14 or so. At that point I was using an Ace Europa which was a really long plastic kayak. Whilst out in some seriously huge surf I was back-looped and then cartwheeled towards the beach before being torn out of the boat by the power of the waves. I remember tredding water in the surf and not being able to get back to shore. It was a truly awful experience. I didn’t go back in the sea for three years!
What was your biggest hurdle in kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?
I was dependent on others for travel/transport however I was fortunate enough to be paddling every week. It was quite a steep learning curve and I haven’t really had any formal training/coaching. Despite being right handed I paddle left handed. This has created some issues over the years, particularly in getting hold of good left handed paddles quickly.
I’ve never had any form of real coaching. Parts of my boating technique aren’t good. I reckon I’ll get around to having some coaching some day.
What has kept you in the sport?
I’ve never been into traditional sports but some how kayaking, climbing and mountain biking has always held a strong appeal. There is a level both independence and dependence that I quite like. For me one of the best things about the sport is that I naturally blank out what ever is going on my mind and simply focus on the boat and the water. I find it a superb way of resetting my balance and putting things into perspective.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?
Although I do admire many of the big names in the kayak world it’s the little guys that make the sport. So if I was to pick anyone it would actually be all of the weekend warriors who will be out no matter how cold/grim the weather is. It takes true dedication to hold a job, look after your family and still get out onto the water on a regular basis. I guess most of us would like the ability to paddle whenever and where ever we wanted but in reality that is highly unlikely to happen.
Given the choice where would want to paddle?
What do you dislike most about the competition scene, the industry and media, and what you’d change if you had a blank cheque or God like powers?
I would like to see both the industry and governing bodies and as a result all boaters get really stuck in to the river access issues here in England. It’s shockingly bad. Englands Canoe/Kayak governing body is far too interested in the competition side of the sport rather than focusing in on the area where the mass participation takes place i.e. by paddlers in plastic boats out on local rivers.
What kit are you currently using?
My main body of kit remains pretty static with a little bit of test gear working it’s way in and then out over the course of a year. The core kit is listed below and represents kit that I think fulfils my needs.
Eskimo Topo Duo
Vertical Element Full Carbon Cranks
Werner Full Carbon Sidekicks
Both custom, both left handed.
IR Klingon Empire deck
Palm Extrem RV PFD
Sweet Strutter 2012/2013
Five Ten Water Tennies
Teva shoes (not sure of model)
Howies merino thermals
Immersion Research Guide Shorts
GoPro Hero 3 Black and Silver
Nikon D5100 DSLR