Paddling tips, tricks, news and gear reviews from an Unsponsored point of view

Unsponsored Q&A Series – Sam Ellis

I’ve waited a while for this one and I’m really please that Sam has taken the time to take part in the Unsponsored 2013 Q&A series. I’ve known Sam for many many years, I reckon 12 years +.

Sam has consistently and quite quietly been out charging some of the biggest whitewater around the globe and hunting down some first descents closer to home. Sam is simply a superb paddler and it’s been great to have the opportunity to paddle with him over the years. Keep on charging!


Tell us a little a bit about you accomplishments in the canoeing/kayaking world.

My accomplishments, I got “most improved paddler award” at my old canoe club one year when I was 13ish which I was well proud of!! Been on GB freestyle team for a few years competed in a World Champs and some European champs, a few first d’s. Paddled some of the most amazing whitewater on the planet with some great friends.

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Sam Ellis

When and how did you first start paddling?

So my first experience of kayaking was in a £15 fibreglass kayak (including paddle) which me and my sis fixed, and painted ourselves. I was ten at the time and me and my sisters boyfriend carried it about two miles to the river on a summers day. Helen tied a piece of string to the stern, sat me in it and pushed me out into the none flowing river. Ha, I shit myself, screamed at her to pull me in then ran home crying with fear leaving Steve to carry the heavy thing home for me!! Second attempt I made it 100m down stream to Clifton bridge (no string) where I pulled my nylon spraydeck off to get out and pulled the cockpit rim off with it!!!

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Sam Ellis

What is your current location?

Currently living in York, North Yorkshire the Heart of Great Britain.

Cauldron Snout The Full Story from Wide Eyed Kayaking on Vimeo.

What scares you the most?

Sadly one of my biggest fears came to life last year. I, we lost a great friend, a friend that could and will never be replaced. Respect the river and set up your safety and carry on hucking the goods.

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

Probably finding people to paddle with. Weather conditions have always been abit of a pain as well, especially here in the UK waiting for the rain or snow melt. When it finally comes your friends may have work or you may have work, family or other commitments that can’t always be dropped just like that. But probably will anyway!! Ha

What has kept you in the sport?

The freedom it gives me, the places it has and will take me and the people I have met and will meet on seeing those places. Has someone said that before lol. Also the feeling, better than no other, of over coming your fears or running a gnarly line or big fall or just out with your friends on the local run with the sun out. Nothing beats that feeling!


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

The people at the top of the game charging hard, running new lines, bigger falls, new expeditions in remote places. Those people I look up to the most because that is the side of kayaking that I love the most.


What kit are you currently using?

I’m supported by Pyranha and currently paddle a Shiva. Paddles are UK brand Vertical Elements and my dry kit and PFD are now Kokatat. Whitewater the Canoe Centre have also supported me over the years. Many thanks to all of those guys.

Sam : )

Many Thanks Sam!

Want to ask Sam a question? Leave a reply below.


  1. drowssap

    Sam, I remember when you first started paddling….down Abbey Rapids. You were always gonna turn out crazy!! So impressed with your achievements… are an inspiration!

  2. Ben

    Hey Sam,
    I saw a video recently which I think you edited about a trip to Iceland. I was wondering if you had some beta on paddling there that you wouldn’t mind sharing. I am from the US but currently living in the UK and thinking about a trip to Iceland with some friends later this year.

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