The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article up today that takes a good look at the world of extreme kayaking, where top paddlers seem to be in an ever increasing arms race to see who can make the biggest drop over a waterfall.
The article is an interview and profile of Ben Stookesberry, a 30-year old professional kayaker who seeks out big drops all over the world. Stookesberry has made 51 first descents in 11 countries around the world. But it also references both Pedro Oliva and Tyler Bradt, both of which have set world record drops this year. Oliva first made headlines when he went over a 127 foot water fall in Brazil, and just weeks later Bradt shattered that record by dropping 186 feet over Palouse Falls in Washington State.
These crazy exploits have garnered the sport of kayaking quite a bit of attention in recent months, and have drawn new paddlers into the water. Technology continues to evolve, offering better, more stable, boats, paddles, and other gear, which is allowing the top kayakers to challenge some impressive runs, such as the Rio Santo Domingo in Chiapas in Mexico, which drops 480 feet in just an eighth of a mile and has two waterfalls of 90 feet or more. It is just one of several extreme runs that Stookesberry is hoping to conquer in the months ahead.
The article also lists some of the top paddling schools in the country for learning to kayak, which makes for a nice reference for anyone thinking of getting into the sport. The author cautions that we should all have the proper training, learn how to make an eskimo roll, and spend time paddling under a variety of conditions. And of course, gain LOTS of experience before you follow these top guys down the big runs.
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