In the mid-’90s, the Capella was introduced not only as one of the first serious plastic sea kayaks but also at a short-for-the-time, 16’ length for the increase in manoeuvrability that offers.
Plastic sea kayaks soon took off, and with good reason, being a more affordable and highly durable option for individual users and fleet owners who enjoyed their budget-friendly and lower-maintenance appeal. The 17’ Scorpio, and later the 15’ Delphin entered the P&H range, leaving little room between them in the market for the Capella, which was rehomed in a lower spec amongst the Venture Kayaks range, and eventually retired just a few years ago.
This is the sad result of a niche market like kayaking; it’s often difficult to justify having a wide plethora of options in boat design and length (although we generally give it a good try!) We’re delighted to say paddlesports is booming right now, though, and that widening of the market enables us the space to offer shorter boats like the Virgo, as well as a new, mid-length boat; the 16’ Leo, available now in MV and HV sizes!
The Leo will appeal to fans of the Capella but is brought bang up to date with a much more stable hull profile and a whole heap of modern features like the Skudder system, split paddle recesses, inserts to take a kayak sail mast foot, smarter deck styling, and the renowned comfort of our Connect outfitting system.
If you’re looking for a highly versatile sea kayak which allows the paddler to explore all avenues of sea kayaking comfortably, this is it.
Although the initial shock of the situation in Ukraine has subsided and the media’s interest has largely moved on, it is clear that much has transpired that money or humanitarian aid cannot fix; loved ones lost, atrocities suffered, and lives forever changed. The war in Ukraine has also, sadly, not yet come to an end.
We are proud to have been able to offer what little support we can, though, and thank each and every person who has supported us in our fundraising efforts thus far, but we’re not done yet!
A large part of what has been raised so far was via the raffle held for a ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Volan. Congratulations to the winner, Christopher Chan, and thank you to everyone who entered! Here is Chris’ reaction to when we gave him the good news, and what he had to say about his motivation for getting involved:
“When I received word that I had won the Flag of Ukraine Volan, I wasn’t sure whether to believe it and I’m still surprised even now. I’m excited to paddle it soon on the East Coast of the US! I am extremely grateful to P&H, their suppliers, and the staff who donated their time to make this happen.
I supported the raffle because I wanted to be part of a larger community contribution to the Disasters Emergency Committee with the paddling community to the people of Ukraine. It’s heartening that so much was raised so quickly and that the funds will support Ukrainians immediately.”
If you pre-ordered a ‘Launch Kayaks, Not Missiles’ T-Shirt, these were shipped out from the 12th of April in the UK/EU and have just landed and begun to be despatched this week in North America. We really appreciate your support and patience with these!
Once all orders have been fulfilled, we will list any remaining t-shirts on our webstores and the sales of these will also go towards the fund.
After pivoting their business in 2019, the UK’s premier kayak manufacturer, Pyranha and P&H Sea Kayaks are now available again in the Greater Vancouver area after securing partnerships with the area’s best paddlesports retailers, Coast Outdoors (North Vancouver, BC) and Western Canoeing & Kayaking (Abbotsford, BC).
Established in 1971 and 1968 respectively, Pyranha Kayaks and P&H Sea Kayaks unified in 2004 and together have grown to be the UK’s leading supplier of cutting edge whitewater kayaks and industry-leading sea kayaks. These innovative designs have taken adventurers to the remotest corners of the globe and received numerous industry awards and accolades. Pyranha/P&H pivoted its Canadian business in 2019 to focus solely on independently owned, speciality retailers and has been reestablishing its Canadian dealer network since then.
“We’re just thrilled to bring the two premier British Columbia paddlesports retailers into the Pyranha / P&H family. Western Canoeing and Coast Outdoors represent the very best paddlesports selection and service and align perfectly with the values of Pyranha’s family-owned business. Bringing the industry’s best kayaks to the best retailers positions us perfectly for a new beginning in the British Columbia paddlesports community.” says Chris Hipgrave, Pyranha’s North American Sales Director. “Western Canoeing will focus on the Pyranha whitewater kayak brand while Coast Outdoors will be focused on the P&H Sea Kayaks brand. Both of these outstanding retailers promise to expand our opportunities to the huge paddlesports community in British Columbia and well beyond.”
Coast Outdoors is North Vancouver’s foremost paddlesports speciality store. Their knowledgeable and enthusiastic retail staff are dedicated paddlers who know their stuff so can give you great advice if you need some direction, arrange demos, or help you out with any parts you might need.
Western Canoe Kayak prides itself on having the largest and most diverse selection of canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards, and accessories, with easy access through their online store. Their staff don’t just talk about paddling, they live for it! Whether you’re just getting into paddling or have been paddling your whole life, their staff have the expertise to answer any questions you may have. Good service and sharing of knowledge are their most important products, and they’re free!
We have ceased all shipments to Russia and have heard from both of our Ukrainian dealers who are preparing to defend their homeland in any way they can. When peace returns, we’ll do everything we can to help them rebuild their businesses, but sadly that time is likely a long way off.
These are our dealers in Ukraine:
These are wonderful people.
We are lucky to live in a stable and peaceful democracy, whilst many live with the harsh reality of the many dreadful wars around the world. This war in Europe, in an area where some of our staff come from, where our customers are being bombed, brings that reality far too close to home. We have no doubt, like us, you are watching the human tragedy in Ukraine unfold nightly, and perhaps feeling powerless to help.
However, we are morally compelled to help Ukraine, and perhaps with your help, we can do so significantly…
Staff across P&H have committed to donating their time, and several of our suppliers have agreed to donate materials so that we can make 20 custom MZ3 Virgos, split proportionally across the size range, in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Our dealer network has responded with overwhelming support for this initiative, and so we are also preparing to make an additional 20 kayaks at cost, with any profit from these also going to the DEC.
Furthermore, to enable those who are not in the market for a boat at this time to also support the cause, we have designed a ‘Launch Kayaks, Not Missiles’ t-shirt which is available to pre-order through our webstores, and we will also be raffling a ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Volan 160 in our Lightweight Kevlar/Carbon Infusion layup.
How you can contribute:
Purchase a ‘Flag of Ukraine’ kayak (delivered via a participating dealer), a raffle ticket, or a ‘Launch Kayaks, Not Missiles’ t-shirt through our UK/EU webstore.
Purchase a raffle ticket or a ‘Launch Kayaks, Not Missiles’ t-shirt through our UK/EU webstore, or a ‘Flag of Ukraine’ kayak directly from one of the participating dealers below:
It is with considerable sadness that we announce the passing of P&H Founder, David Frank Patrick on the 7th of January 2022 at the age of 83.
Dave started canoeing in the late 50s and joined Midland Canoe Club in the early 60s, where he competed in Slalom in the top division in both K1 & C1. He was later the goalie for Midland CC’s Canoe Polo team in the 80s, with the team winning the infamous East Midlands Canoe Polo League.
He helped run many slalom competitions for Midland CC at Darley Abbey, Tryweryn, & Holme Pierrepont, becoming chairman and then president at Midland CC.
In his working life, Dave started out as a chemist at Rolls Royce, until in May 1967 he founded P&H Fibre Glass Products with a builder called Mr. Harrison.
Throughout the remainder of 1967 and the beginning of 1968, they created and began to produce the first P&H Fibreglass products including the ‘Soar Valley Special’ canoe (1968), the ‘Bat MK 2’ (1968) and the Hahn ‘Speed’ kayak (1969). The partnership of Patrick & Harrison came to an end in 1968, but Dave continued to run the company by himself.
As the seventies began, Dave worked with the top designers of the time and expanded the range to produce the ‘Swift’ and added four new models to the Hahn range – the ‘Quick’, the ‘New’, the ‘Dart’, and the ‘Swing’.
In late 1970 P&H began to sell dry suits and added two more Hahn canoes to the range, as well as the ‘Munich 72’, which was chosen by the then current world champion for his next year’s debut at the world championships. This now extensive range was shown at Crystal Palace.
In 1975, under Dave’s leadership, P&H became a founding member of the British Canoe Manufacturers Association.
P&H and Dave Patrick’s relationship with Pyranha began in 1978 when P&H began to produce Pyranha designs including the ‘Orinoco’ & ‘Elite 80SS’.
1979 saw Dave partner with Derek Hutchinson to introduce a whole new range of sea kayaks, starting with the ‘Umnak’ and ‘Icefloe’. This was also the same year Dave hired current Production Manager, Perran Shreeve, who remembers him as a hard but fair boss.
The 80s saw a flurry of successful sea kayaks, wildwater racers, surf kayaks, slalom kayaks, and polo kayaks from P&H, with the popularity of the company’s products going through the roof and in 1988, Dave bought the ground-breaking shop, No Limits at Holme Pierrepont after the success of the slalom course constructed there in 1986.
Things didn’t slow down in the 90s, with Dave sponsoring five of the GB Olympic Slalom Team at the Barcelona Olympics in ‘92, launching one of the first serious plastic sea kayaks, the Capella, and developing the world’s first pre-preg carbon slalom kayak using F1 technology in 1995. This boat went on to win the Slalom World Championships in ‘95 and to this day is still on show at the London Science Museum.
Dave retired in 1998 and took up flying model planes, although at the start he wasn’t particularly good, and had a bench in the corner of the P&H workshop to fix them at.
When Julian Patrick (Dave’s eldest son) left P&H to pursue his interest in the internet gaming industry in 2000, Dave came back out of retirement for a short time to help Peter Orton & Perran Shreeve run the company, but in 2001, Carole finally got Dave to retire ‘properly’ and move down to Cornwall where they travelled around in their camper van, with Dave enjoying playing golf and flying his model aircraft.
After a long and enjoyable working relationship, and out of a desire to continue the legacy of the company Dave had built, Pyranha purchased the P&H Company from Dave in 2003.
Dave will be sadly missed, and our thoughts go out to his wife, Carole, daughter, Jane, and sons, Julian & Paul, as well as the rest of the family.
We’ve been making canoes & kayaks for over 50 years, and every year, sales begin to slow as the winter approaches. That is, until last year.
We saw the necessary re-arrangement of workstations to ensure a Covid-secure environment for our staff as an opportunity to also improve the efficiency of our factory layout and processes – a good job, as following the easing of the first national lockdown in June of 2020, we saw a surge in demand of more than double that additional manufacturing output we’d unlocked!
We worked hard to meet demand, anticipating the usual slow-down of winter, except… it never came. We were delighted to be able to retain full staffing levels throughout the winter of 2020, and yet our lead times were still growing, even with these sustained production levels.
Now approaching the winter of 2021, demand for our canoes and kayaks remains phenomenal; we’ve never seen so many newcomers to the sport, and we couldn’t be happier about that!
The problem we face is certainly not one we’re going to complain about, but we want to be open with you and help ensure you’re fully aware and able to avoid disappointment when purchasing a canoe or kayak in the coming year, whether it’s your first or your next.
A month or so ago, we invited our network of specialist dealers to place pre-orders for 2022 production; the response was overwhelming, and we’re now deep into planning our production schedule for the coming year. What is abundantly clear, however, is that we cannot possibly make as many canoes and kayaks as have been ordered.
It’s important to note that these boats have all been sold into our dealer network, and the vast majority are still available to purchase by you once they arrive with those dealers.
Global shipping is wrought with delays, and the reason dealers have pre-ordered so much stock is that demand has been exceptional and sustained, so it is still important to place your order early to ensure you have your boat in plenty of time for the adventures you have in mind, but there’s no need to panic.
We have received numerous emails from paddlers lately asking when particular models and colours will be in stock with dealers, and the truth is, we don’t know. Our small team is focused on producing and shipping orders to arrive with dealers as close to their requested delivery date as possible, but the difficulties with shipping add a generous helping of uncertainty to this schedule, and only the dealer will know which boats are available or have been pre-sold.
For maximum success in securing ownership of a new canoe or kayak in 2022, our advice is to contact your favourite dealer early, be aware that it may not be possible to get your first choice of colour, and be prepared to wait a little longer than usual.
We really, truly, sincerely appreciate your interest in our canoes and kayaks, and we cannot wait to make a LOAD more friends on the water in 2022!
We recently became aware of a number of polyethylene P&H Sea Kayaks which had insufficient thickness towards the rear of the cockpit rim and were therefore more prone to splitting in this area.
Affected batches were produced in late 2019/early 2020; you can ascertain the production date of your kayak by looking at the last 4 digits of the serial number, with the letter denoting the month (‘A’ being January, ‘B’ being February, and so on) the first number being the last digit of the calendar year, and the final two numbers being the last two digits of the US model year (changing in August).
If you believe your boat to be affected, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address, the serial number, model, size, and colour of your kayak, and which dealer it was purchased from.
No other batches are affected, although it is possible that other boats may split in this region for different reasons, such as:
Frequently sitting directly on the back of the cockpit rim.
Transporting the boat with the cockpit rim against an unpadded roof rack.
Storing the boat with the cockpit rim against an unpadded rack.
Extreme or high-frequency usage.
A Cockpit Rim Repair & Reinforcement Kit is available for instances where a cockpit rim split has occurred outside of the warranty duration or conditions.
We zijn verheugd om aan te kondigen dat we zijn gaan samenwerken met de opkomende YouTuber, The Paddlin’ Dutchman (echte naam Lex van den Berg). Dit om zo de meer toegankelijke kant van de sport voor een breder publiek te belichten en de reis om ‘ervaren’ peddelsport enthousiasteling te worden te laten zien!
Lex, hallo! Vertel eens iets over jezelf…
Samen met mijn vrouw en kinderen (7, 5 en 3 jaar) woon ik in Nederland, waar ik 33 jaar geleden ben geboren en getogen. Als ik niet aan het kajakken ben of video’s over kajakken maak, ontwerp en maak ik videogames. Ik werk al ruim 12 jaar in de game-industrie als Game Designer en Creative Lead en maak games die een positieve impact hebben op mens en maatschappij. Als ik tijd over hebgeniet ik van alles met het label “nerdy” (van bordspellen tot Star Wars), knutselen, kamperen en muziek maken.
Kun je ons vertellen wanneer je voor het eerst een peddel oppakte en ‘The Paddlin’ Dutchman’ werd? Wat inspireerde je?
Ik herinner me de eerste keer dat ik een peddel oppakte nog heel goed. Het was acht jaar geleden tijdens een vakantie in Argentinië. Mijn vrouw en ik voeren een tandem op een prachtig meer omringd door bergen. Ik kon het varen de rest van de vakantie niet meer loslaten. Zodra we thuis kwamen meldde ik me aan bij een plaatselijke kanovereniging. Helaas – nou ja, het is maar hoe je het bekijkt denk ik – werd kort daarna ons eerste kindje geboren. Door alles wat daarbij komt kijken en “het leven” verloor ik het kajakken uit het oog. Ineens is het zes jaar later en hebben we drie kinderen. Ik had mijn gezondheid echt verwaarloosd en wilde mijn leven veranderen en actiever worden. En ik voelde direct dat kajakken mij daarbij zou helpen! Ik heb me toen gelijk ingeschreven voor een beginnerscursus. De Paddlin’ Dutchman begon vooral om mezelf verantwoordelijk te houden. Wat ik niet had verwacht, is dat ik al snel helemaal verliefd zou worden op het kajakken. Het is zoveel meer geworden dan alleen maar sporten. Het is uitgegroeid tot een groot deel van mijn leven, en ik zou niet meer zonder kunnen!
Waar heb je ontdekt waar en hoe je kon beginnen?
Ik ben altijd een grote fan geweest van “introductiecursussen”. Ik heb veel introductiecursussen gedaan, van boogschieten tot klimmen. Het is een geweldige manier om iets nieuws te ervaren en te ontdekken of je het ook echt leuk vindt. Het is daarnaast een geweldige manier om nieuwe mensen te ontmoeten in dezelfde fase als jij. Het voelde dan ook heel logisch om te beginnen door een introductiecursus te volgen. Een zoekopdracht later had ik een cursus geboekt bij onze plaatselijke kanovereniging KV Waterwolf. Ze hielpen me met alles wat ik nodig had en leerden me de basis. Na de cursus ben ik lid geworden en nooit meer weggegaan!
Hoe snel heb je je eigen uitrusting gekocht en waar heb je die vandaan? Waarom heb je de spullen gekozen die je hebt gekocht?
Eerlijk? Waarschijnlijk te snel. Mensen die mij een beetje kennen weten dat ik nu eenmaal van spullen hou. Ik ben wat je noemt een echte “gear head” en dus heb ik altijd graag mijn eigen spullen. Maar dit betekende wel dat toen ik begon ik concessies moest doen vanwege de kosten. Ik heb meteen geïnvesteerd in een goed zwemvest, maar het overgrote deel van mijn uitrusting is al meerdere malen vervangen. Het kost ook tijd om erachter te komen wat je wilt, nodig hebt en leuk vindt. Soms kost dat een paar pogingen, dat is nu eenmaal hoe het gaat. Ik zou mensen daarom ook altijd aanmoedigen om open te staan voor nieuwe dingen en af en toe te experimenteren met een andere uitrusting!
Mijn spullen haal ik eigenlijk altijd bij Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem, een begrip hier in Nederland. Zijn winkel is als een gigantische snoepwinkel! En ook al heb ik alle gangpaden al duizend keer gezien, ik kan er nog steeds uren doorbrengen!
Wat waren je ambities in het begin en hoe zijn deze bijgesteld naarmate je serieuzer werd over het kajakken?
D ambities toen en nu liggen mijlenver uit elkaar! Zoals ik al eerder aanhaalde, begon ik met kajakken om gezonder te worden. Maar eigenlijk veranderde dat al zodra ik het water raakte. Ik werd verliefd op het gevoel van vrijheid, het ontdekken, de techniek die erbij komt kijken en het één zijn met water en natuur. Vanaf het moment dat ik wat vaardigheden begon te ontwikkelen en nieuwe technieken leerde, wilde ik eigenlijk alleen nog maar meer leren en nog beter worden. Ik merkte dat het leren van nieuwe vaardigheden en technieken me hielp om zelfverzekerder en comfortabeler in mijn boot te zitten. Hierdoor ging ik zelfs nog meer van het peddelen genieten! Dat was iets wat ik met anderen wilde delen. Ik wilde andere peddelaars ook die vaardigheden leren om hen te helpen meer zelfvertrouwen te krijgen! En dus probeer ik terwijl ik zelf groei en leer, dat door te geven aan anderen.
Op welke prestatie ben je tot nu toe het meest trots? Wat heeft je geholpen bij het leren?
Zonder twijfel het leren eskimoteren en het maken van mijn eerste “combat roll”. Leren eskimoteren gaf me zo’n vertrouwensboost. Het heeft me echt geholpen om me meer op mijn gemak te voelen om nieuwe dingen te proberen en mezelf te pushen, vooral op wildwater.
Aan de andere kant was leren eskimoteren een heel andere ervaring. Het kwartje wilde gewoon niet vallen. Tijdens mijn eerste paar sessies had ik niet het gevoel dat ik vooruitgang boekte. Ik snapte er gewoon niets van! Nadat de lessen waren afgelopenkon ik nog steeds niet eskimoteren en bleef ik met een hoop frustratie achter… Maar ik moest en zou het onder de knie krijgen. Dus in plaats van wachten op nieuwe lessen nam ik het heft in eigen handen. Ik vroeg op een middag een vriend (en wildwater instructeur) om me te helpen. Het begon waar ik was gebleven, maar binnen het uur was ik aan het rollen! Uiteindelijk denk ik dat zijn andere benadering van lesgeven ervoor gezorgd heeft dat het kwartje viel!
Waren er al kajakkers in je omgeving, of heb je juist nieuwe vrienden gemaakt door middel van kajakken?
Ik kende eigenlijk niemand die ook aan kajakken deed. Maar ik heb zeker door het kajakken een aantal levenslange vriendschappen gemaakt! Het is ook iets wat ik erg waardeer aan de peddelgemeenschap; Het is een grote familie en iedereen is altijd erg behulpzaam.
Wat zijn nog vaardigheden die je wilt leren en reizen die je wil maken?
Qua vaardigheid ben ik nog steeds bezig om het eskimoteren te perfectioneren (en eerlijk gezegd is het al een paar maanden geleden dat ik voor het laatst heb gerold)! Zo heb ik bijvoorbeeld alleen nog maar in mijn wildwaterkajak geoefend. Dus nu ik de Virgo peddel, kan ik niet wachten om eindelijk te beginnen met het oefenen in een zeekajak!
Voorlopig wachten we nog steeds op het openen van de grenzen met Duitsland, zodat we weer wildwater kunnen varen. Gelukkig valt er nog genoeg te ontdekken hier in Nederland, en kijk ik echt uit naar het kajakkamperen en kajaksurfen deze zomer!
Wat zijn jouw tips voor nieuwkomers in de sport?
Zorg dat je comfortabel wordt met omgaan! Ik heb gemerkt dat veel mensen een angst ontwikkelen om om te gaan. Deze angst weerhoudt ze er vaak van om nieuwe dingen te ervaren en peddelvaardigheden te ontwikkelen. Het oefenen met uitzwemmen (altijd veilig en met hulp natuurlijk) en wennen aan zwemmen zal je helpen om meer ontspannen en comfortabeler in je kajak te zitten!
Bedankt Lex! We kijken uit naar je avonturen in je Virgo…
It has been a challenging year, but there are positives to be found, not least a wider appreciation for the great outdoors. We are eternally grateful to the staggering number of people who have given the clouds a silver lining for us by choosing to find an escape in a Venture, P&H, or Pyranha canoe or kayak.
Right now, our whole team is focused on ensuring we can meet this overwhelming demand, but we must ask your mindfulness and understanding of the challenges we face, and the steps we have taken to manage those.
Following the initial interruptions of early lockdowns, we have been working at full capacity over the last 12 months to both catch up and meet the surging demand; a highly unusual situation, as demand would usually drop with the temperature over the winter months, and we would slow production as a result.
We have trained additional staff, reconfigured machinery, and re-organised processes to increase the number of boats we can produce in any given week, but at some point, we must give ourselves a break and go paddling. The pandemic is sadly also not yet over, and occasionally some of us have had to isolate to protect our colleagues and the wider community.
Our lead times are currently therefore longer than usual, but comparatively bearable in relation to the industry as a whole; if you’re considering a purchase, our recommendation to avoid disappointment is to contact your nearest dealers early to find out what stock they have available or incoming:
We are not alone amongst the many industries which are experiencing exponential increases in demand and significant backlogs resulting from lockdowns, and the global shipping network is seeing the compounded effects of this as they attempt to handle the resultant increased movement of materials and goods, whilst having to manage the same Covid-related impacts and restrictions themselves.
Of course, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage could not have been more inconveniently timed, but we are now seeing the dust settle on these challenges. Unfortunately, shipping costs, durations, and complexities overall have not settled down, and reliability is not yet 100%.
We will do everything in our power to get product to you on time, but due to this unpredictability, we will unfortunately be unable to guarantee lead times or delivery dates for the foreseeable future. Similar to availability, please be sure to plan ahead, confirm your order with a dealer as soon as possible, and keep in contact with them for any updates as we will ensure they have the same information we do.
One constant is our enthusiasm for driving canoe and kayak design forwards and in turn, progressing the sport; although some of our R&D team have been helping out in other areas of production from time to time, work on upcoming models has continued, and we’re now approaching final production on Scorch X and Scorch Small in the Pyranha Whitewater range, as well as the Leo MV in the P&H Sea Kayaks range. Contact your local dealer now if you’d like to secure yours with a pre-order:
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve begun working with up and coming YouTuber, The Paddlin’ Dutchman (real name Lex van den Berg) to highlight the more accessible side of the sport to a wider audience, and illustrate the journey we’ve all either been through already, or maybe are currently still going through, on the way to becoming ‘experienced’ paddlesports enthusiasts!
Lex, hi! Tell us a little about yourself…
Together with my wife and kids (7, 5, and 3 yo) I live in the Netherlands, where I was born and raised 33 years ago (so definitely in my prime right now). When I am not paddling, or making videos about paddling, I design and make video games. I have been working in the games industry for over 12 years now as a Game Designer and Creative Lead, making games that have a positive impact on people and society. If I have time to spare I enjoy everything labeled “nerdy” (from board games to Star Wars), crafting, camping, and making music.
Can you tell us when it was you first picked up a paddle and became ‘The Paddlin’ Dutchman’? What inspired you?
I remember the first time I picked up a paddle very well. It was 8 years ago on a holiday in Argentina. My wife and I paddled a tandem on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. It really resonated with me and I joined a local club as soon as we got back. Unfortunately -well, it’s how you look at it I guess- shortly after our first child was born and due to “life”, I lost touch with kayaking. Fast forward 6 years to 2019, all of a sudden I have three kids. I really neglected my health and wanted to change my life and become more active. Kayaking would be my weapon of choice! I enrolled in a beginner’s course. At that time I created the Paddlin’ Dutchman to keep myself accountable. What I did not anticipate is I would soon fall completely in love with kayaking. Ever since I got back into a boat it has become so much more than just exercise. It has grown into a huge part of my life, and I couldn’t do without it anymore!
Where did you find out where and how to get started?
I have always been a big fan of “introductory courses”. I have done many introductory courses, from archery to rock climbing. It’s a great way to experience something new, and find out if you really like it. It’s also a great way to meet new people who are in the same headspace as you. So it felt really logical for me to start kayaking by taking an introductory course. One Google search later, and I had booked a course at our local paddling club, KV Waterwolf. They helped me out with everything I needed and taught me the basics. After the course, I joined that same club and never left!
How quickly did you buy your own gear, and where did you get it from? What made you choose the equipment you bought?
Honestly? Probably too quickly. People who know me know I am a gear head. I-love-gear. So I am always keen on having my own equipment. But this also meant I had to make concessions due to budgeting when I started. Right off the bat, I invested in a good PFD though. But most other gear I bought in the beginning has been replaced by now. It takes time to figure out what you want, need, and like. Sometimes it takes a few tries, there is no shame in that. I would always encourage people to keep an open mind and experiment once in a while with different gear!
I always get all my gear at Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem who is a household name here in the Dutch paddling community. His store is like a giant candy shop! And even though I have seen all the aisles a thousand times, I can still spend hours there!
What were your ambitions in the beginning, and how have they evolved as you’ve gotten deeper into the sport?
They couldn’t be further apart! As I touched on earlier, I started kayaking just as a means to exercise. But as soon as I hit the water that all changed. I fell in love with the feeling of freedom, the exploration, the mastery involved and being one with the water. As soon as I started to develop some skills and learn new techniques, I wanted to learn even more and get better. I noticed learning new skills and techniques really helped me be more confident and comfortable in my boat. So much so it made me enjoy paddling even more. That was something I had to share with others. I wanted to teach other paddlers the skills to help them get more confident and comfortable too! So as I myself grow and learn I now try to pass on what I learn to others, and help them become better paddlers!
What achievement are you most proud of so far? What helped you learn?
Definitely learning how to roll, and doing my first combat roll. Being able to roll gave me such a confidence boost. It really helped me feel more comfortable to try new things and push myself, especially on whitewater.
Learning how to on the other hand was a whole different experience. It just didn’t click for me at first. During my first few training sessions I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I was doing wrong. After my classes had ended, I hadn’t learned to roll, and was left with so much frustration… But I really wanted to nail it. So instead of waiting for new classes, one afternoon I just asked my friend (and whitewater instructor) to help me out. It started where I left off, but within the hour I was rolling! Ultimately I think his different approach to teaching rolling is what made it click for me.
Did you have kayaking friends to begin with, or have you made any through paddlesports?
I didn’t really know anyone who paddled. But I certainly have made some lifelong friendships paddling! It is something I really appreciate about the paddling community; Everyone is very welcoming and helpful.
What’s next on your list in terms of skills to master and trips to complete?
Skill-wise I am still bomb-proofing my rolls (and honestly it has been a few months since I last did one)! I only ever rolled in my whitewater kayak, but now that I am paddling a Virgo, I can’t wait to finally start practicing rolls in a sea kayak!
For now, we are still waiting for the borders to re-open again with Germany so we can get back to some of that sweet whitewater. In the meantime, there is always more to be explored here in the Netherlands! But I am most looking forward to some kayak camping, and surfing this summer!
What would be your top tips for newcomers to the sport right now?
Get comfortable flipping over! I’ve noticed a lot of people developing a fear of going over. This fear really holds them back to experience new things and develop their paddling skills. Practicing wet exits (safely with help on hand of course) and getting used to swimming will help you be more relaxed and comfortable in your kayak! As many have said before, we’re all just in between swims!
Thanks Lex! We look forward to seeing your adventures in that Virgo…