What Kind of Kayaker Are You?


You built this house with your hands, and your time, and your blood / We built this up in one day to fall downward and…
Never really feel the same / never gonna be the same
no it’s never gonna be the same / never gonna be the same
– Manchester Orchestra

I think you get a strange, skewed view of kayakers and kayaking if you’ve done it for  years. Of course, social media doesn’t help either. If you believe Facebook, every kayaker in the world is either making a video, writing a book, jet-setting across Europe or working for a kayak company. Oh, and of course there are those who simply enjoy paddleboarding in a bikini sans life jacket…

Now, the thing is, we know all about false impressions and that you tend to get the wrong end of the stick when you look at something from the outside.  Still, I started to wonder myself recently if anyone really enjoyed kayaking for kayaking’s sake any more. I mean, do coaches only get in their kayaks to either teach a class or take an update? Do boat designers and paddlesport company reps actually kayak for fun? Do adventure paddlers ever paddle somewhere where the won’t need sponsors? Can you be a kayaker without releasing a movie? Well, of course.  Well, mostly of course… Well, sometimes of course…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been around this stuff for a few years.  At one time, I thought doing the “big trip” was a primary goal.. (Well, it sort of still is, but we’ll come back to that in another post!) As a coach, I felt it was paramount to get to that all important L5 or 5* or whatever.  I used to get into the gear and methods debates.. All the “this vrs that” that gear heads & many enthusiasts of every stripe think is so freaking important. . . Then, somehow and I’m not sure where and why, I realized that none of this stuff was making paddling fun.  If anything, it was less fun.  I realized that paddling can easily become less about paddling and more about the “sport” of paddling. Before you know it, it’s not fun anymore, it’s well, something else.  That’s when you know it’s time for a gut-check.

I had to go back and figure out why I got into paddling in the first place.  Back then it was all about finding peace in nature, the sensuality of the environment and yeah, a bit of fitness as well. It was those joys, that wondrous, emotional, sensual experience that made me want to coach. Coaching for me was evangelical.  Heck, once you get past the first couple coaching levels, you’re preaching to the choir. Often for me advanced programs & classes started to feel like a knot tying contest where a room full of knot tying experts debated the proper way to tie a knot. In the end, everyone displayed their colorful strings, but the knot was still just a knot. In the world of perceived experts, debates must ensure. It’s mandatory. I can remember sitting in many, many classes and debates just wishing I were out paddling.  Weird huh?

So what kind of paddler am I?  Well, I’m a outdoorsy, nature, environment, fun but private, adventurey type of kayaker who loves to show newbies how to get around on the water safely.  I’m a camera carrying puddler who wants to squeeze my kayak into every nook and cranny. I’m a small group paddler who wants to have time to really connect with the folks I paddle with.. I want time to just talk and let the day go as it may without a care for how fast or how far we go on any given day.  I’m a sit and watch the ducks kayaker .. an amazed by the chaotic distortions of the waves kayaker.. a listen to the raindrops kicking out Radiohead rhythms on my deck kayaker.. a “life’s too short to ruin your hobby by becoming an expert kayaker” sort of kayaker…

What kind of kayaker are you?

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3 Responses

  1. Mate, that’s a crap type of kayaker! I’m a much better type, fast, downwind, video’s running, whitewater flying, if I could fit a mirror on my deck I would. And none of this debating the bow rudder, if that ever happens with students I make them do 50 push ups! Much better….

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