Extreme Kayaking Takes Center Stage

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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.

Kraig Becker

6 thoughts on β€œExtreme Kayaking Takes Center Stage”

  1. forget the training and experience,just hop in a kayak and go down the river. It will be one fun, closed casket funeral.

  2. Just saw the documentary "Solo" about Andrew McAuley's ill-fated kayaking journey from Australia to New Zealand. No extreme kayaking for me. But..whatever rocks your boat;)

  3. Oh,
    I didn't know there was a doco about Andrew. I was crossing Tasmania when he left, we both were reported missing roughly at the same time, but I got more lucky.

    I heard the news when 2 days out of my hell, I was at the airport going back home, saw he was missing. Felt very sad and really thought it could be me. Also, knowing about Andrew, it was someone I wanted to meet to get some kayaking course with him. I think he was a very authentic explorer, a true one.
    And he proved it was possible to cross the Tasman sea by kayak as he was very close to Milford sound as you know.

    Where did this doco SOLO air ? in OZ or USA ? or both ? Anyone got it taped or able to get this in divx format to sent it to me ? (by first upload on a free private server). I wanna see it.

  4. I believe the special on Andrew aired in Oz. It's never been broadcast here in the states, and when I was in Australia a few weeks back I had a conversation about the show with one of the locals. I haven't seen it myself, but every time it airs I get a bunch of hits on the stories I posted about his journey.

  5. L.P.- I saw it at a friend's place who got it from another friend who said they got it off The National Geographic Channel.


    I don't know where you're located at, but if you Google it you may find a torrent or link for it πŸ˜‰

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