The Band Geeks of Paddlesports

To say that anything is fringe about paddling is sort of an understatement.  Most paddlers are rather unique individuals.  That’s one way to say it.  The other way is to say most paddlers are the nerds who got picked on in high school.  These same people were skaters, punk rockers, hippies and band geeks.  If you’re a paddler just look around you, you’ll notice those people.  Look in the mirror too…

We’ve observed and participated in several “fringe” paddlesports as of late and thought there was something noteworthy about the existence of these genres.  Like it or not, these are the core of paddlesports.  Odd as they may be, they are what drive the innovation and abstract thinking that brings about the introduction of new skills and technique, which are inevitably adopted by more mainstream paddlesports.  These are also forums for the testing and development of paddling equipment.  Seems like a good job for a bunch of Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebies, to quote a favorite 80’s movie.

The Squirt BoatSquirt boating is a form of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the boat is designed to be as low in volume as possible while still allowing the paddler to float. Squirt boats are designed to utilize both surface and underwater currents to manoeuvre within the water. These manoeuvres can be used to effect navigational control or to perform tricks.

Potomac River Squirt Squad. Ahhh, what I said about nerds and geeks, I didn't mean that about these guys. They're the coolest people I know. (Left to right) Colin, Michelle, Jim

A Dark Knight trolls along the Potomac River in search of the prized mystery move.


Michelle performs the Duffek Stroke, common in squirt boating or anytime the stern of a kayak is underwater and you need to manipulate the position of the bow of the boat.


Jim eyeballs an eddyline and adjusts his Charc, or Charging Arc, to set himself up for a mystery move.


If successfully initiated, a squirt boater can slice their boat in between currents to perform a mystery move. The boat sinks underwater and the paddler controls it like a wing slicing through the air.


Mystery move initiated, ready to drop.


Coriolis Effect - a paddler getting mystery moved sort of appears to be flushed down a toilet.


After several seconds beneath the surface, Colin cliimbs out of the abyss of a mystery move at a spot called Bermuda Trianlge on the Potomac River near Washington DC.


Colin resurfaces from a mystery and catches a breath. His name is Colin. Says so on his helmet.


Kayaking makes Colin a happy boy


Bellyaking – A bellyak is a boat designed to be ridden on your belly and enjoying being One With the Water.

The bellyak is the perfect blend between surfboard, riverboard, kayak, c1 and inner tube.  It’s a great way to get into paddlesports without the steep learning curve made necessary by the equipment in kayaking such as the sprayskirt and paddle.  River, lake or ocean, you can just kneel, sit or lie prone and take a relaxing float or get aggressive and run some rapids or surf waves.

Adam Masters, Bellyak inventor, kneels for a better vantage point above a rapid on the Potomac.


The Prone position allows a rider to paddle the Bellyak like a surfboard to propel through rapids or surf waves.


Deer Skull on the Potomac River Banks


A surf kayak can even be fun on rivers. Long boats like the Murky Water Sword are great for stern squirts and surfing waves of all sizes.


O-C1 Freestyle – O-C1 means Open Canoe, for 1 person.  O-C1 Freestyle is when a paddler performs tricks on a wave or hole in a small open canoe like the ones below.  This is a rarely seen art form on the water, but impressive when you see someone who can make the boat dance.  The boat can quickly fill with water which provides an added challenge for O-C1ers.

World Cup C-1 Freestyle Champion, JEZ, from Australia, prepares to take a ride in the World Cup finals at the Nantahala River in Bryson City NC.


O-C1 World Champ, Jeremy Laucks gets his boat past vertical during the 2012 Freestyle World Cup Finals at the Nantahala


Surf Kayaking – This is a commonly misunderstood paddlesport given its equal influence from the whitewater paddlesport and board surfing sports.  Is it surfing or is it kayaking?  That may be determined by each user and each individual critic for themselves.  See a couple different definitions of surf kayaking at World Surf Kayaking Association and Wikipedia.

Fall is always a welcome season for east coast surfing.  East coasters near the Carolinas may choose to frequent Folly Beach SC and Wrightsville Beach NC for the closest, most consistent waves.

Tree Frog hitched a ride on a surf kayak bag near Folly Beach


Ocean scenes like this are so nostalgic and... scenic.


Happy person surfing a wave.


One characteristic of typical east coast waves is steep and fast. Many of the east coast beach breaks tend to serve up really steep, quick breaking waves, which means you have to drop in and run down the line quickly. A short boat with hard rails and fins, like the Murky Water Ninja 7'6", can help you harness the downward speed from the dropin and drive laterally down the wave face.


Folly local Matt Faust eyeballs a dropin as the wave peaks up.


A subculture of a subculture, sea kayak surfing - It takes really great skill to surf a sea kayak well. Scott Szczepaniak of Sea Kayak Carolina enjoys surfing his sea kayak above all other places he could be in a boat.
A bottom turn at Wrightsville Beach NC in the Ninja 7'6"

SUP Fishing – Standup Paddleboarding has perhaps eclipsed the genre of “fringe” at this point, but SUP Fishing still isn’t quite mainstream.  Fishing is the best recreational use we’ve found for the Standup Paddleboard.  NCKFA is a reliable source of information for fishing from a paddle craft.  Distressed Mullet happens to be a great source of info and news about SUP, based in Wilmington NC.

Being easy to spot from a standing vantage point, mullet are an easy catch from the Stride Inflatable SUP.


 The gear used to make this paddling safe and possible, and a list of the retailers who sell it:

IR Klingon Sprayskirt, IR Arch Rival S/S Drytop, Shred Ready Super Scrappy Helmet, Shred Ready Standard Half-Cut Helmet, Shred Ready Standard Full-Cut Helmet


Astral Brewer Shoe, IR Shockwave Sprayskirt, Astral Sea Wolf PFD, Astral Greenjacket PFD

Buy these gear items at the following Paddlesports Retailers.
AppomattoxDiamond BrandGet:OutdoorsGreat Outdoor Provision Co.NOCPotomac PaddlesportsRock/CreekSea Kayak CarolinaUSNWCValley Mill

Thanks to IR, Astral, Shred Ready

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