We have a change in direction for our week-long tribute to vintage whitewater kayaking videos. This time we go all the way back to 1984 and visit Mother Russia.
Back then, the Soviet Army was looking at new fighting and travel techniques when somebody suggested rafts and double kayaks as a method of transportation down raging rivers.
To help sell the idea, officials got together a troop, trained them up and then turned them loose down the river with the cameras rolling. They then turn the footage into a short film so the Minister of Defense can make a decision.
The whole thing is just over 6 minutes long and you can jump ahead to 1:20 to see the whitewater action. Highlights include an authentic soundtrack (whatever that means), lots of flips and spills (looks like they were demonstrating how safe they were?) and plenty of double kayak action rolling in the water.
Make sure you stick around for the mock battle at the end where the soldiers paddle downstream, jump out of their boats then start shooting everything they see. The mock deaths are super dramatic.
No word on what the Minister of Defense thought about the film.
You can watch the whole video below:
Our second clip for Retro Whitewater Week is a fantastic amateur film shot in 1988-89 on the Ottawa River. This film has it all; including great fashions, a wicked awesome soundtrack (including a sexy sax solo halfway through) and more Perception Dancers than ever thought possible.
Keep an eye out for the guy at 2:30 who is having the ride of his life as well as the elusive and rarely seen paddle helicopter spin at 1:20.
Welcome to retro whitewater kayaking week here at the Paddling Headquarters. I dug into the archives and found some real beauties that I will be rolling out all week. So let’s start with a big name first.
Anybody into downhill skiing will have seen or at least heard of Warren Miller and his yearly downhill skiing films dating all the way back to the 1950's. As a kid, I will always remember the thrill of watching skiers tumble off cliffs while at the same time managing to avoid being swallowed up by the avalanche following about 3 feet behind them.
While not as popular, Warren Miller also filmed lots of other extreme sports including surfing, mountain biking and for a brief time, whitewater kayaking.
Here is a short clip narrated in classic Warren Miller fashion. While I’m not sure of when it was released, looking at the boats and the liberal use of fluorescent colours on lifejackets and paddles, my guess is that it was in the early 90's.
Enjoy! Tomorrow we have some classic armature footage of the Ottawa River from 1988(ish). Oh the fashions...
Here are seven random fun-facts or stories related to kayaking that you likely haven’t heard of.
Back in World War II, the British Special Forces first conceived the idea of using kayaks during military raiding missions and they proved to be quite useful due to the fact that they were fast, quiet and easy to fold and store when the mission was over.
Jump forward to today and you will be pleased to know that, kayaks and canoes have been used for special mission by the US Marines, British Commandos, and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
Some publically available examples of their use in military operations include early reconnaissance missions by the British in the 1982 Falklands War and a 1992 raid in Somalia where US Marines snuck into the country unannounced to set the stage for a full-force siege.
Arguably one of the greatest kayak expeditions you have never heard of started back in 1932 when Oskar Speck decided to take the bus to the Danube River in Ulm, Germany and start paddling towards Cyprus. Over the next 7 years he continued working East paddling over 50,000 kilometers and eventually making his way to Australia where, September 1939, he was promptly arrested on suspicion of being an enemy alien (after all, Australia was at war against Germany at the time). He was sent to an internment camp where he stayed until the end of the war in 1945.
There is no word Oskar participated in any other major kayak expeditions after the war but several artifacts including compass, personal diary and video clips he took are now on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Image credit: wikipedia.org
Back around 1949, a young Pope John Paul II (before he was the Pope of course) was introduced to kayaking when he was working at Saint Florian's parish in Kraków, Poland.
He fell in love with kayaking so much that he quickly bought his own folding kayak (a Klepper) to take on vacations and meditation retreats. John Paul was also quite competitive and entered several downriver races including one on the Dunajec River in 1955 where his boat got a hole in it and promptly sunk just before the finish line.
Image credit: Fr. Rick's Sabbatical
John Veniaminov was born in near Irkutsk, Siberia in 1797 and knew he wanted to be a priest from an early age. Over the years he traveled between Siberia and what is now Alaska spreading the good word and it wasn't long however that he discovered the importance of becoming an expert in kayaking so he could travel solo during the summer months.
At six-foot-three inches tall, he was both imposing and highly respected by the local people for his skills. For example, there is a story of him traveling out to minister to his people in 1828. Things were going well as he kayaked his way out along the Aleutian Islands until trouble found him while he was between the Unalaska and Akun Islands. During that trip he was forced off the water twice due to storms and then almost capsized by a pod of whales. When he got back he told the story as if it was a routine trip.
He was canonized on October 6, 1977 by the Russian Orthodox Church and while "patron saint of kayaking" isn't his official title, I'm going to start lobbying that it should be.
Robyn Benincasea from the US of A currently holds the Guinness World Record for the farthest distance a woman has ever paddled in 24 hours when she paddled down the Yukon River in Yukon, Canada back in June 2011. Over a 24 hour period, she covered a distance of 371.92km (231.1 miles). Yes, she had the current helping to push her along but I'm 100% confident she went farther than you ever could.
The official world record was broken on September 24, 2011 when 1,902 boats formed the world's largest raft of canoes/kayaks in Inlet, NY. That being said, the record might not stand to much longer as an attempt to break it was just held in Suttons Bay, Michigan with 2,099 people registered. They are still waiting for the official verification from Guinness.
The Guinness rules stated that the flotilla must be a contiguous floating raft of touching kayaks held together for at least 30 seconds. The count is verified using aerial photos.
Image credit: National Geographic
Kayaks have been made with a variety of weird things over the years including concrete, aluminum and even pumpkins but I think one of the weirdest has to be the kayak manufactured from paper that came from sheep poo. Back in 2009, Lez Paylor, a partner in the UK paper business SheepPooPaper.com took an old Folbot frame and replaced the standard canvas skin with the poo paper (which had been waterproofed soy based marine grade waterproof resin).
Sadly their maiden voyage didn't inspire confidence as it started to leak within about 5 miles and they had to make a quick dash to shore.
If you are anything like me, your mind wanders quite a bit when out paddling. For example, I often get stuck trying to figure out what exactly Eddie is singing in Pearl Jam's "Even Flow". I don't think we will ever figure that one out to be honest.
One day earlier this summer while out on a day trip I got to thinking about the clouds in the sky and trying to imagine now much water is up there. So imagine my excitement when I found the video below that answers the question, how much does a hurricane weigh?
Spoiler alert: they weigh a lot.
Does trying to learning about knots get you all tied up? (Sorry about that.)
Dave Wooldridge from Ridge Wilderness Adventures just released a short and sweet clip demonstrating the three key knots you will end up using 80% of the time. They are the Bowline, Truckers Hitch and the Half Hitch.
You can view the video below:
Over the years we have covered several examples of shady people using kayaks for shady purposes including using their kayak as a drug mule, a get-away vehicle, a transportation method for border jumpers or a method to fake your death for insurance fraud.
What could be a first for kayak related travel; deputies in Wahpeton, North Dakota believe that a kayak played a key role in helping a burglar steal a safe on from the local bar.
It seems that the thief used a stolen kayak to help float the safe across the local lake to his waiting car.
The article doesn't make any mention to the size of the safe but our crack investigation team put together this artist's representation of how it could have looked from shore. Thank goodness the thief had the foresight to wear a lifejacket.
When it's your third full length sea kayaking instructional DVD what's left to cover? I'm sure that was going through Gordon Brown's head had when he sat down with producer, Simon Willis to plan out the third volume of their highly successful and award winning series, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown.
But really, what's left to cover? The first two DVD's covered off all the foundations skills of sea kayaking including paddling forward, corrective strokes, rock hopping, rescues, towing and looking competent in tidal races (to name a few).
Volume 3 takes us way beyond what would typically be expected from a kayaking instructional DVD and breaks away from just covering actual kayaking hard skills. Over the course of four short films, they cover more advanced topics such as navigation, first aid kits, handling emergency situations and kayak rolling.