Trip Jennings freestyle guru and big water paddler is part of the Epicocity. This is the same Epicocity that brought us Bigger Than Rodeo, Mission: Epicocity and Firescars.
A genuine star and ambassador for the kayaking world Trip kindly agreed to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series.
When and how did you first start paddling?
I first started paddling at a summer camp in Richmond, VA almost 12 years ago. The owner of the camp, Casey Cockerham was a “pro” kayaker at that point, and more or less took me under his wing so I could get through the first few years of boating with out doing anything too stupid.
What is your current location?
I live in Eugene, OR and I love it!
What scares you the most?
I love watching my friends run big drops, but actually what scares me the most is looking back upstream after doing a sketchy move on a creek where a friend is following me who pushing his level a bit to run whatever creek we’re on. I’m always ready on the rescue and very attentive to peoples skill levels, but I’ve had some terrifying experiences that I never want to repeat.
What was your biggest hurdle in kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?
My biggest hurtle when I started out was actually getting to the river. I couldn’t drive at first, so I had to bum rides, and then I had to convince my parents that they should let me go to West Virginia for the weekend with a bunch of college students when I was 15. That was not easy. We argued LOTS and I just left a few times w/o permission. Thankfully that changes when you get older.
What kept you in the sport?
No, wait. That’s not true at all. Being outside, and getting to travel to amazing places kept me in the sport, that and the fact that kayaking is the most fun outdoor activity ever, umm, and that 10 foot boofs are almost as good as sex…so you can imagine what running a 60 footer is like.
Every time I go out on the river, I get to experience the forest, or the woods, or even an urban area in a new way. I get to see how amazing and beautiful the world is and I get to appreciate it. I also get to meet lots of other people who see the same thing. Understanding the world from the perspective of the cycle of the river is pretty amazing.
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?
Back when rodeo was hot, but beginning to die out, I would have tried to continue that momentum and shifted it into creek races all over the country, and festivals centered around going kayaking.
I hate competition. It seems to fail at bringing out the best in the sport and the people. At the same time I remember the amazing experience of the “Tour” where we would go from location to location all over the country, meet new people, and paddle with them. That’s where the energy and strength of rodeo was and needed to be recognized, not on winning silly little stunt shows. If we could get that back, I’d be down, but maybe this time we could focus on the paddling and community aspect more.
I also hate cocky attitudes and people who are in it for themselves and don’t want to focus on everyone having a good time. They are certainly still around, but I think there are less now.
What kit are you currently using?
I use all NRS gear and I love it. I wear a Sweet helmet and use an AT paddle. I don’t like to focus on my gear, I like it to work and not to have to think about it, that’s why I use the gear I do…although sometimes above a big scary drop, I think about how great it is that my drysuit has a relief zipper.
Many thanks Trip!