Ben Brown is truly one of the worlds top white water paddlers. Big water and first descents is what it’s all about. As a professional kayaker Ben gets to live the dream everyday. A quick search of youtube will find video after video of Ben running some awesome rivers, dodging huge stumpers and taking the plunge over some massive drops.

I managed to catch Ben during a rare moment of downtime and asked him if would like to take part in the Unsponsored 2011 Q&A series. Thankfully Ben agreed. Enjoy….

Tell us a little a bit about you accomplishments in the kayaking world…

I have been kayaking full time for the past 11 years and during that period have been fortunate enough to paddle all over the world. The attraction to kayaking to me has always been the exploration aspect of the sport and it has been this that has continued to drive me over the years. I have paddled in over 50 countries and have completed first descents in NZ, Norway, Iceland, Thailand, USA, Canada, Africa and Italy and I am very proud of these accomplishments. However I think what I am most proud of is the fact that I have been able to make a career out of doing what I love the most with by best friends.

When and how did you first start paddling?

I’ve was bought up in and around the water, my dad was a keen open ocean yachtsman and we spent every family holiday on the water so I guess it was inevitable that I would end up there myself! I got my first taste of kayaking when I was at school and found it pretty hard and very scary! Something in the sport appealed to me though and I persevered and the rest is history I guess!

What is your current location?

I have just arrived back in NZ for the summer after a busy year traveling in Australia, USA and Asia.

What scares you the most?

That is a difficult question. Whilst I have been in many scary situations it is hard to think of one particular thing that always scares me… Often the scariest things happen in the most unexpected places! Having said that I hate hippo’s! Having been chased by them over and over again I would quite happily never see another one again!

What was your biggest hurdle in kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?

Finding people to paddle with and getting to the river were both constant problems when I was starting out. A lack of a vehicle and any funds were both major hurdles but I managed to overcome them through a lot of bribery and corruption! haha

What has kept you in the sport?

My love of kayaking. At the end of the day paddling is fun, and I think that is what keeps bringing us back for more. Obviously the places I have gone, the rivers I have paddled and the friends I have made all make the journey that much more worthwhile but I’d have to say that I have stayed in the sport because it is what I love to do and it keeps me stoked!

Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?

I have drawn inspiration from a number of paddlers over the years but I think the one guy who has continued to motivate and inspire me over the years is Steve Fisher. We have been on many adventures over the years and he is a great guy to hang out with on and off the river and has also given me great advice and inspiration from a professional standpoint as well.

Given the choice where would want to paddle?

California. Having paddled in some amazing spots all over the Globe I still find it hard to go past California. the epic whitewater combined with the great climate make it my #1 destination, closely followed by Norway and NZ.

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 think the competition scene is in pretty good shape after being weak for many years. Events such as the Tribe Grand Prix and Sickline rice and the formation of the AWP have taken the sport in a direction I think a lot of us want to see it go in. The majority of the media coverage is starting to reflect this changing trend and with the development of athlete media output I feel kayaking is being portrayed in a much better light. I would love to see athletes get better reimbursement for the effort they put into their sport. Many of the guys we love to watch hucking themselves off massive drops on the web and in movies are barely making enough to survive. Obviously kayoing is a fringe sport and with that comes a small market and less dollars to share around but if I had God like powers I would love to see the boys getting funded to paddle a little better and the resources to film with the latest and greatest equipment, oh and beers for everyone!

What kit are you currently using?

Red Bull provides my wings and I’m paddling a Riot Magnum 80 with and AT2 Super Duty paddle. I keep myself warm and afloat with the Palm Equipment Atom Drytop and AMP Vest. My feet stay firmly stuck on the rocks with my Teva shoes and I keep the sun out of my eyes with Oakley sunglasses. All the action is filmed with GoPro cameras. Thanks for the support!

Thanks Ben!