Bren Orton has broken into the world freestyle scene over the last couple of years with some superb moves and cracking scores. From conversations I have had with mutual friends it is clear that Bren is fully committed to his paddling and being the best he can possibly be. I reckon that Bren is well on his way to being one of the best freestyle paddlers in the world. It is therefore a great honour to have Bren take part in the Unsponsored 2012 Q&A series.
Tell us a little a bit about you accomplishments in the kayaking world.
I’m still young and relatively new to the kayaking world with much still to learn. My accomplishments that mean something to me are being ranked 3rd in the world, becoming Junior European champion and running Hypoxia.
When and how did you first start paddling?
My first experience kayaking was on a trip to the Lake District with school, I’d tried a couple of sports by this time but hadn’t really found anything that felt like it fit me – Kayaking fits me.
My Dad took me paddling on a canal a few times after this and whilst I always enjoyed it, I quickly grew bored of flat water paddling, Luckily at the time “the river crew” was just starting up, they introduced me to a whole new world of paddling, I got taken down some of the easier rivers and was introduced to freestyle kayaking by Dave George at a pool session.
It was this particular side of the sport that truly captured my imagination, the way a paddler could harness the power of the water to launch his boat in the air just seemed unreal to me. I progressed pretty quickly and Rick Foster, Matt Cooke, Jason Fox and Chris Vits all helped me along the way with nailing harder and harder tricks, up until this point I was content with just paddling and whilst the idea of competition was there it was firmly in the back of my mind. Pete Catteral eventually persuaded me to compete, and whilst I hated the moments before the competition I loved the feeling of accomplishment from nailing my ride and the focus it provided me to improve my kayaking.
I think competition is the one aspect of my life where I’m truly selfish, whilst I want my competitors to do well and I enjoy their success, ultimately it doesn’t matter to me, the only goal I have in competition is to improve upon my last score. I don’t get hung up upon the feeling of winning and losing, the only thing that truly matters to me is learning.
What is your current location?
In a tent, Nottingham.
What scares you the most?
I’m not really scared of anything at the moment . . . Although I have just applied for my first credit card so I think a couple of my friends are a little bit worried for me.
What was your biggest hurdle in kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?
Stepping away from an over cautious parent.
What has kept you in the sport?
To be honest, I’m not sure. Putting wet kit on three times a day and having to sit in an eddy with severe brain freeze after each ride this winter definitely drove me to question why I was a kayaker.
I think kayaking has become a bigger and bigger part of my life, when I started out it was a hobby, then later it became a sport and now my world revolves around it.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?
I’m inspired by a lot of people within kayaking from Ejs longevity, Peter Csonkas power, Pringles fluidity and Mathui Dumoulins style to the guys that run huge drops and all the way through to the “weekend warriors” that just love getting out on the water.
Given the choice where would want to paddle?
I love kayaking, it doesn’t matter where or who with, as long as I’m on the water I’m happy. However at the moment my mind is fixated upon big volume water and so I’m going to head out to Nepal, Zambia and Canada over the coming months
What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment in the world of kayaking to date?
I haven’t managed to see the film yet but from seeing/reading about it, I think the Grand Inga Project has to be hands down the biggest accomplishment within kayaking at the moment.
How do you get yourself in “the zone” before a competition run?
It’s hard and I’m still learning, I have still never managed to show my very best in competition, recently Emily wall gave me Thinking Body, Dancing Mind
by Jeremy Lynch, it’s a book about how to get the best from yourself in various aspects of life, I’ve started applying it to my kayaking and it’s made a significant difference – although don’t get confused you don’t suddenly read the book and be able to nail the trick you’ve been struggling with – the only way to achieve that is to fall on you’re head … a lot.
But for those that are looking to put the fine touches upon their kayaking it’s a great learning source.
What kit are you currently using?
Palm Gear, Pyranha Kayaks, Mitchell Blades
Huge thanks to everyone for their help –
See you on the water,
Many Thanks Bren!