Kayaking is one of the most intense sports out there. With the GoPro camera, we can get right inside the kayak without, well, getting wet. Here are the best kayaking GoPro videos. Jump in and feel those waves with the added luxury of not getting drenched.
The Teva Mountain Games
The Teva Mountain Games are one of the biggest and most important extreme sports competitions in the world, and kayaking is featured prominently. The Games celebrate the beautiful mountain territory of the American West, and so, the kayaking is of the creek-and-stream variety. This tends to make for much better entertainment than its lake-and-pond cousins. Riders go hurtling down rapids and steep mountain streams, fighting against both the gravity of the incline and the churning, aggressive rapids. With the remarkable clarity of the GoPro camera, you can pause the video at any time and see individual droplets of the river as it splashes against the boats and riders. The camera mounted on the rider’s head gives a great impression of how challenging the navigating of the kayak becomes in the treacherous territory of these rivers.
Here’s an example of open-water kayaking, which bears more of a resemblance to surfing than it does to the type of kayaking that happens inland. Attempting to catch waves, open-water kayakers go into and against the swell until they get an opportunity. Open-water kayaking is far more about endurance than stream kayaking, which tends to focus on control, power, and speed. What it also allows is a chance to focus on the beautiful scenery of the ocean and its surroundings; in this case, that includes a gorgeous sunset, mountains in the distance and the crystal blue water. The rider is seated on the kayak instead of positioned inside it as well, letting him lean into the swells better than he would be able to otherwise.
The Teva Games kayaking was marked by its speed and sudden twists and turns. The open-water kayaking was special for the challenge of managing the wide ocean. Here, we have a truly difficult feat: navigating the Wainui River, a grade 5 whitewater run that involves a 60-foot drop. Kayaking this river involves making enormous sudden drops, during which the rider has to be sure to not only keep control of his kayak but also hold onto his oar and keep his head as above water as possible. At any point, the rider could be completely enveloped by the churning water, and so he needs to be constantly mindful of where his head is in relationship to the river and his boat. Don’t think it should be that hard to remember where your head is? When the water won’t stay put below you, the situation seems a whole lot different. Some of the drops here are so intense that he has to fix the camera afterward.
Here’s another video from the Teva Mountain Games, which tends to produce a pretty huge amount of incredible performances. One thing to watch is how the rider uses his oar. There’s the normal back and forth that has the purpose of increasing speed and keeping momentum, but there are also some other uses: holding it still in the water as a sort of rudder; and pushing against the water to try and accelerate body turns. Kayakers usually have huge upper bodies and arms because of the constant strain of fighting against the current and the rapids; while it might look like the boat is just hurtling along with the motion of the river, in fact, the riders are perpetually trying to keep themselves from flying into the rocks, where they could destroy their boats or injure themselves.
Last, there’s freestyle kayaking, which involves using the oncoming current to gyrate and stunt with the kayak. You wouldn’t initially think of a kayak as a skateboard-like instrument for tricks and flips, but because riders are actually planted inside of it, they can get the boat to follow their bodies through the air, kept mostly in place by the oncoming water. Unlike board sports, though, this kind of stunting takes an immense amount of strength and power, considering the weight of the kayaks and the need to simultaneously battle the water, which isn’t solely interested in helping you do cool tricks. This style of kayaking is called freestyle, and if you do it wrong, you’ll end bottoms up, getting a nice bath in the river.
Cover Photo Credit: Chris Walker Innerwealth / Flickr.com