PADDLING: A Dirtbag Love Affair. By Dirtbag Paddlers all over the World

DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE is unique in that we bring together the rock stars and the every day paddlers who make up the community, and together we realize that those are the same eddies out there in the world, the same drops and pools, the same feelings of fear overcome by accomplishment, the same rush, the same smiles, and the same WALLACE. We are all one! Cheers, and spread love today! 
We are changing the face of our sport, making it a better place, closing the gaps with love basically. Respect above all else.

In honor of Valentine’s Day we thought we would ask some of our friends from around the world to elaborate on exactly what it is that has turned us into Dirtbags… LOVE OF THE RIVER. 
For each person, it’s a unique personal journey to come to the conclusion that yes, paddling is the center piece of my existence, the cornerstone of my life’s foundation, the essence of who I am and how I view myself. We don’t often think specifically about what that may mean. Soul boating is the antithesis of Ego boating. So I thought the open letter and two questions contained within would be a gift not only to the outside world (the easy explanation to the friends and relatives who haven’t quite accepted the lunacy as normal), but also a gift and powerful insight into the true meaning of “LOVE OF THE RIVER.”
With that in mind, I sent this quick note via Facebook messenger to a few hundred friends. (Some people think social media is accursed, but for our community it is a powerful tool indeed! Sure beats the old newsletters from the hairboating days!!) From kayakers to rafters, racers to river guides, canoeists to river boarders, from countries around the world, teenagers to old schoolers (so old they call themselves pre-school…), I sent them this note.
“I want to write an article for Valentines Day (next Saturday) of our love of paddling, for DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE. If you’re unfamiliar or it’s been a moment, please check it out. I’ve invited a bunch of us to participate. Please join us! Thanks!”
Followed by this: Please write a few simple sentences answering these questions.
“sum up your love of paddling” & “What’s your favorite rapid and boat?”
Lots of dirtbags got back to me, and a few of each discipline also hooked up photos which we share here. I chose to not edit the answers much, but rather to let the words flow from our friends just like they would in a text, to keep intact the organic feeling and flow of the meaning behind it. Ask a bunch of Dirtbags a couple questions, and you never know what you’ll get (or what parts they will deign to answer!) Enjoy the following ode to Dirtbaggin’!
Zé Assis: paddling for me is to live the fact of life when I’m in the water and how to be lying on the chest of my love. My favorite boat is the nomadic 8.0 is lympho, Rapid gamela Paraibuna river
Ollie El-Gamel: I can be naked in the snow with my boat, helmet, pfd and skirt! I love paddling, because when I’m in my boat, nothing else matters. It’s the essence of freedom.
I have two favourite rapids,the first is Huka falls in the central north island of New Zealand it’s a 100 metre joy ride of great class IV – V (flow dependant) big volume white water ending in an awesome 30ft boof to finish it all off! And then Spa Falls on the Tuakopai stream in New Zealand. It’s a 25-30 foot slide drop into a shallow pool then another small pour over into a massive pool!
My favourite boat I’ve paddled is my Remix 69 but I also really loved paddling a Tuna.
Shane Benedict: My life choices pretty much sum up my love of paddling.  Every “real” job I have ever had has been about paddling.  Almost all of my hobbies are paddling. Most of my friends are paddlers and those that aren’t I have dragged onto a paddling trip so I guess that means they are paddlers too.
There was a time when I used to use Nantahala Falls as an example of what every rapid was like.  For example  The North Fork of the Payette is like a whole bunch of Nantahala Falls all stacked up on top of each other and magnified 10 times.  I love Nantahala Falls.
My favorite boat is usually the next one I am working on.  It’s unbelievably fun to think through all the intricacies of designing a kayak.  If I had to pick one it would be the Space Cadet because I learned so much in that boat.  It taught me a lot of lessons.  I unlearned how to hand roll in that thing but man I learned some fun tricks too.
Buck Marietta: Well amen amen well why I love river and paddle? Well well I was very young like 3 years old so I wanna go river as bad so I turn 4 years old my dad decide my mom dad and I went go middle yough I was very excited so I jump out boat in river many time and try paddle myself but no good then I wanna work river guide like my dad grandpa sister and cousins now I am river guide I love my job see hot girls and new meet different ppl of USA. Well my favorite is dimple rapid in Lower yough from Ohiopyle pa I enjoy I save ppl in dimple rapid and watch ppl got Wallace and guides too. So I love my wood paddle. Well my duckie is sexy.
Santiago Sandoval Garcia: I love the feeling of freedom, the way it clears my mind, the people I get to meet and the places where I can only get in a kayak. And I absolutely love the fact of finishing a class V rapid in one piece. 
My favorite rapid is Mariman in the upper Trancura, and the must run in the Middle fuy.
Favorite boat has to be Dagger Mamba 8.6 but I would love to try those Wakas!
Jared Seiler: My love for paddling comes from the activity of being out on the water exercising taking in the scenery and being with people out there who share the same love!
Hunter Connolly: I think my love of kayaking comes from a feeling of freedom I get from it. No other sport can i choose where to go, what to do, and who to go with. It’s all up to me. At the same time once I make up my mind it’s full commitment and focus. Few activities allow for that. 
My favorite rapid is a tie between getting busy on the Little White Salmon, Washington and Tres Troncos on the Puesco in Chile. They are both similar, by their long continuos and steep nature. 
Favorite boat is the Jackson kayak Md Karma. In that boat I don’t even feel like I have to paddle, it just flies over features.
Heather Sunshine: I love paddling because it is going to be a lifetime of learning and training. It will never be mastered so it will always be mysterious and exciting.
Marek Prussek: Let’s see….. I love paddling because it’s the only thing that gets me wet? 
Favorite boat is the dagger crazy 88 and favorite rapid is boulder drop on the Skykomish.
Peyton Love: I love paddling, it’s the bomb diggety. My favorite rapid is the one I get to paddle with my best of friends. If I had to pick it would be between iron ring Coming home sweet Jesus Gladiator pillage and plunder. Hell Goliath is awesome. the pressure for the love of God! yeah the one I paddle with my best of friends that’s it. Boat: it don’t matter what fits for the day.
Chris “Reverend Ewok” Carswell (aka the Appalachian Outlaw):  From 15 years old “The first time I went rafting” I knew that water was part of me. I am Aquarius. Water flows through my soul. It calls me, it draws me, it pulls me. It is an addiction that I want and will keep.
What’s my favorite rapid? 1/4 Mile on the Chucky, and my favorite boat? My 12 foot NRS High Rocker. It tracks, it turns, and it surfs like a champ.
Ross Miller: You are my blessing. You are my curse. In spite of the times you have hurt me, I love you so much. I have rearranged my life for you, and I have no regrets. To this day, I still can’t get enough of you. Being with you has taught me lessons I could learn from no one else.
I live for you.
I love you.
I thank you.
I call you “whitewater.”
Dagger Crossfire
“It’s so fun to boof a longboat…”
Definitely Hell Hole on the Ocoee River in TN, although I tend to prefer a smaller boat in there.”
Valerie McVey: My love of rafting originates from my love of competitive swimming and doesn’t every dirtbag have to embrace the likelihood of a gnarly swim?
My favorite rapid is Triple Drop of Pine Creek on the Arkansas because I hope to someday guide it! #femaleraftguides
Taz Riggs: When guests find out all the rivers I’ve worked on, they often ask, “so, which one is your favorite? ” Invariably,  I answer, “You don’t compare your best friends do you?” Why I love the river? It never asked me to. It doesn’t measure or compare my love and yet returns it ten-fold.  Favorite rapid: the one that let’s me pass with style and grace.
Favorite boat: the one that I’m in at that moment.
Caleb Chicoine: To me kayaking is more than going down crazy rapids (don’t get me wrong, that’s fun too!).  I love paddling because it provides me with opportunities that would be impossible otherwise.  I love kayaking because it takes me to places that you can only get to via kayak, it introduces me to the most amazing, unique group of people I’ve ever known, and provides a sense of fulfillment like no other.  The feeling you get after stomping (or wallacing) a stout rapid is so amazing because of way more than just the adrenaline.  It’s so amazing because you know how much time and effort you have put into planning, shuttle, scouting, and finally growing a pair and sending the rapid, and that all of this preparation has paid off.  
My favorite rapid is Barrel Springs in Glenwood Canyon on the Colorado River.  I love this rapid because it changes so much with different flows.  Every water level presents its own challenges which is why this rapid is so fun! You never get bored with it!  Currently, my favorite boat is a Fluid Bazooka.  The outfitting needed some work at first but once it fits, it is a TANK!
Jon Theophilus: Love the river!  Love the people!
Toilet Bowl Clackamas River
Aire Sabertooth
Marcelo Marcondes Galizio: Kayaking changed my life in the most positive way. It took me to amazing places around the world and brought me good friends. I love it because it’s not only a sport, it’s the best lifestyle you can ask for! 
My favorite boat is the jefe grande. I love free falling and this boat is just made for that. The round hull makes it super forgiving when you are boofing something tall, and the design makes the impact soft and resurfaces nicely and stable .
Favorite rapid is Tahquamenon Falls, which is a clean 50 footer located at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Especially in Fall when trees around are colorful and the river is high.
Grink Ashman: My favorite rapid would have to be Pillow Rock on the Upper GAULEY! For several reasons; it’s big (no pix ever do it justice) I’ve done it dry I’ve done it upside down.  It’s also usually during GAULEY FEST. My favorite time of year! Great river great people great fest!  Pic of me being run over by a raft at Pillow. No booties.

Etienne Beland: I do kayak, cause this is the best way to feel alive and you have the freedom to do whatever you like, no song of car, no noise of the city, just the wind and the pure air outside with good friends. The feeling when you made a BIG rapid and you turn around to watch what you just made… Its just a epic moment and a survival moment that no one can understand except people that are doing extreme sports like us. My favorite rapid at the moment is  400 m3s Gorge section on the Rouge River. Massive wave and she is so impressive at first look but its pretty easy to have a great line too. My favorite boat is the Jackson Kayak All Star, I
don’t remember the year of fabrication but yea its a great surfing boat and I do very much love it!
Marie-Eve Bôchamp: My love for paddling is simple  … I would say that when I paddle, it is one of the only times in life where I am fully happy and live for right now.
My favorite rapid … I have to say that it is: ”Lucifer” … on the Gatineau River, first real rapid I ever paddled … started with hate .. and swims (so many swims) and now I just simply love it because its the beginning of everything … it’s home, and there is the Lucifer Anus (a wave) that can be friendly or super impressive depending on the level … means that no matter how much progress I do … there will always be challenge, it is humbling. Haha !
My favorite boat … I’m currently paddling an Option and really enjoy it … but I have a little something for longer expedition canoes … the Esquif Canyon … to me that’s the spirit!
Beth MacKenney: My love of paddling: When I feel at my absolute best, and the absolute happiest, and absolutely ME!
Favorite rapid and boat: tough one…I’d have to say Nesowadnahunk Falls, West Branch, Penobscot River, Maine. Favorite boat, our 14′ Star, perfect sporty fun family boat, just right for the Kennebec River!
William Aubrey Ingham: My love of paddling goes back to my connection with water.  We are water, right? and I just feel that primal connection when I’m in it, especially whitewater….the power and the peace, how simple and yet complex.
Fav rapid….my home river the Pigeon…rapid Accelerator, and boat…my Saturn RD290 raft
Shane Pennecuik: My love of paddling is a lot like my love of a woman….it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, I always end up getting wet and its often quite scary!! My favorite rapid is Bobs rock on the Yarra river, and my favorite boat is the RPM.
If you actually want a serious non-humorous response here it is, haha! I love paddling for the people, the places and the amazing things most other people don’t get to experience. 
My favorite rapid would be all the rapids on the Rio Claro in Chile, in the humble Dagger Nomad.
Alexandra: You are surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Adrenaline, that beautiful high, she is pumping through your veins, through your every fiber. You have conquered what lays behind. The immediate future is unknown, exhilarating and engaging. It will require your brain and your unabashed, potentially stupid, bravery. 
Favorite rapid. Big drop 3 (Cataract Canyon, Colorado River, Canyonlands UT) Clavey (Tuolumne) Bus Crash (Middle Fork American, CA) 
Favorite boat. I learned to guide in an old 14 ft hyside named Fortunate Hotdog. Floor and tubes leaky as hell. I would take her back any day.
Sara Weimar: From boogie water to big drops, I love it all. Getting the crew together and having a great time traveling and running new rivers. 
Fav. rapid and boat:  Shark’s Tooth on the Arkansas River (especially at high water); 12′ raft as R2 or R3.
Domingo Sandoval Garcia: I love paddling because the freedom to do things that other people just imagine.
And the people that you meet while kayaking , they become like your family.
my favorite rapid is “La Curva Del Frances”which means the French Curve, at high water.
Its so fast that gives you no time to think.
Rob Gravelle: The reason I love to paddle is less for the sport and more for  the connection it makes between mother earth and I, leaving me with feelings of utter freedom and sheer happiness. 
My favorite boat — 2 man Creature Craft .. “it does backflips !!!”.. they rock then roll!
Favorite Rapid – “Under the Bridge” Saugney River first descent with Darren, Wally and Bad Luck.
Ben Trister: My love for paddling has influenced my entire adult life. every decision I make is influenced by how am I going to get to keep paddling as much as I have. It is always in the back of my mind, all relationships are effected by this.
MY favorite rapid is Pinball in the Little River Canyon, AL. MY favorite boat is the Blackfly Option.
Dave Kersey: It’s not just the physical and mental challenges and gains that I get out of paddling.  The camaraderie shared among so many mimics that same great feeling with those I’ve served in the military with.  It’s powerful and a well suited byproduct of our sport.
Favorite Rapid: Right Line at Charlie’s Choice with finish up boof off the triangle, into the bird bath. 
Favorite Boat: Love Triangle 9r-RPM-Loki
Kelly Gladen: The reason why I love paddling… is the ever changing dynamics of the river.   Different looks each day. The river never tends to be the same…..  The scenery also keeps me calm and Zen as well. Never can have a bad day when you are out there.   
One of my favorite rapids …. is Miller’s Folley on the Lower New river. The different levels always have something to enjoy. Colgate and Dentine waves at 3 feet are great to crush…even smashing into Bloody Nose can be a jolt.  Also Cloud Chamber is a fun ride when the levels are right.   
The NRS older rafts…I like due to the surfing aspect.  They seem to hold better in holes then some of the other rafts I have used.
Emz Cardwell: I love to go paddling because you get to see so many beautiful places you wouldn’t if you didn’t paddle, also that the paddling community is so open and welcoming.  I love it. 
Favourite rapid and boat would be a grade 3 run in New Zealand on the Mohaka River, and boat the Desiel (Wavesport).
Lee Laughton: My love of paddling is…… Taking the time out from the rat race of ordinary life to travel to gorgeous rivers and take in the scenery on the way. To catch up with long time friends on the river as well as make new ones along the way. To sit around a bonfire at camp and talk about everything kayaking, from the early days to now. The reward of seeing a huge smile on someone whom you have helped instruct paddling and at the end of the day realizing that they are now addicted to the same whitewater madness that has kept me going for the last 30 years. Not eveyone we meet on the river is going to think the same, everyone has different opinions and ideas but while on the water everyone has the same passion and we all become one and this is what makes kayaking so special. One big unique world wide family !!
my favorite rapid would have to be Fulljames rapid. Fulljames Rapid is on the Waikato River close to Taupo in the Central North Island of New Zealand. This rapid is a good solid grade 3 which has a incredible standing V wave which in some flows is a good 5 feet high. Fulljames was the site of the 1999 World Whitewater Championships, as well as the pre-World event the year before as well as many rodeo events , specially since the small play boat era began. It is a must for anyone coming to NZ as it is only just down stream of the famous Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids. My favourite boat for many years was a Pyranha Stunt Bat which I stripped and threw all the insides out of it and converted it into a C1. Once I came to grips with paddling it, it was a dream as it was so fast and so easy to roll. I still have this boat and it sits up in my stotage racks, but not as a boat I cant get rid of but more like a old antique I appreciate every time I walk into the kayak shed.
Darcie Laughton: What attracts me to kayaking;
Is the thrill of going down rapid after rapid, the scenery and the crazy people I do it with. Its great meeting new people and sharing new experiences.
My favourite kayak is my Bliss-Stick Mini Mystic and I love the Rangitaiki River below Aniwhenua Falls. It has one grade 2+ section about 400m long with big bouncy waves.
Gage (Gump) Laughton: I love going kayaking, it always takes so long to get where we are going but Dad always stops along the way and gets us ice cream and other goodies. Once I can see the river, I cant wait to get on it and it doesn’t matter which river it is. 
My favourite rapid is still the slalom  course section on the Tarawera River. Dad says its a grade 2+  but I think its getting close to a 3.  My favourite boat is my Remix 59. I do like my other boat but Dad has fitted  the Remix out now , so it is really nice and comfy, plus its cool to paddle.
Wes Breitenbach: Currently my favorite rapid is more of a section, The Tellico Ledges ending with Baby falls. My favorite boat is my Noah Jetti. I have never paddled it because it is too small for me but it is a boat that I found in a neighbor’s yard. After l some research on it and it and it’s creator, Vladimir Vanha, I was soon diagnosed with whitewater fever. I currently paddle a Burn large, dubbed “your girlfriend” by my wife whilst I continue to search all the local rivers and creeks for a cure. I guess I will now expanded my search to places farther away. There has to be a cure for this maddening disorder! And if I have to paddle every body of water from Florida to Oregon I will find it!  As for my love of paddling….I LOVE a good paddling! Peace!
Serkan Konya: Paddling is definitely one of the very few things in this life that makes me really happy. Being in world’s most beautiful places with the most beautiful people is just awesome. I’m greatly stoked that I have chousen this life style. I’ve already had a lot of great times on and off  the river with my friends in 15 years and I’m so excited for the whats coming next. 
No rapid on the Ermenek River in Turkey has been named because this river has been run only few times but there one normally called ‘Big Portage’ and its my favorite rapid, and Fluid Bazooka is my favorite boat.
Charlene Coleman (Cheetah): I love whitewater boating because it has given me the opportunity to be a more complete and confident person, to meet wonderful people from all over the world, to learn from the original best in the world, to teach others, to save lives, to change lives, to effect changes in river conservation and rescue. Boating allows me to see the world in the rough and wild edge of life with life long friends.
MY favorite boat–New Wave Sleek–steep “sleeking”
My favorite river–Mother River- The Chattooga
My favorite rapid–Super Soc’em Dog
Priscilla Macy: To discuss love of the river from the perspective of a paddler is almost to discuss a “first-time” relationship—beginning with an initial attraction, then followed by challenge and maintained through what many might well call an obsession.  To the outsider, this metaphorical relationship may seem degenerate, and at times even abusive. But to us, it holds the allure of the “one that got away.”  From exploratory boating to guidebook runs, to waterfalls, new runs and old ones, we live as a polygamist with invested love stories into each new adventure.
Favorite Rapid: “Ballroom” on the South Fork Grays, WA.
Favorite Boat (so far): Dagger Nomad 8.5
Antonio Trujillo: I suppose my love for kayaking would be properly summerized by comparing it to a pig’s love for truffles. I would take one day of paddling over a month of paid vacation, just as swine will eat one truffle before they would eat a mountain of anything else, so I guess it would be more of a primal lust.  Favorite boat is most certainly a Jackson Karma, favorite rapid is Ring Bolt rapids, only really a rapid in high cfs plus a strong head wind or upstream boat wake, goes from being a class 1, to a mid/high 3. Last time I ran it in those conditions was in a single man canoe, loaded with camping gear for a three day run, damn near filled with water, luckily I managed to avoid wallacing completely, only a few wet tents and sleeping bags.
Gemma Bishop: I love the lifestyle, I love the people but most of all I love that the river has no bias; the river moves and flows without any concern for you and what you’re doing.   The river just is and as kayakers we are lucky to experience one of nature’s most powerful forces.
I don’t know how to pick a favorite rapid; each river and rapid is awesome for its own reasons. Even the rapids you hate because you got a mean beat down there, these have contributed to your paddling in some way.
Before last weekend I would have said that my favorite boat was my little LL Jefe Chico called Winona which I’ve had since I first started paddling BUT since paddling Waka Kayak’s new boat, the Tutea, I must admit my love definitely now swings in that direction! Cheers!
Mathew McCabe: My love for paddling is very complex, and I believe it is deeply rooted in my soul. The connection of the paddle blade, as it interacts with moving water. Sandy beaches, and rocky river bottoms. Mountain views. Friends. Flow. Sometimes adrenaline. The river is the complete package, and fully immersive experience.  ……. My favorite rapid is either the one I’m on, or the next one… Happy Downstream V Day!!! 
Ryan Gladstone: I love paddling, it’s the most fulfilling thing I have ever done with my life.  Paddling has many great things that come along with it – the brotherhood (and sisterhood), the adventure, the places you go, but the greatest thing about paddling is the extreme sense of focus I get with it.  Everything else goes out the window and all I think about is paddling.  There is nothing else that I do that makes me forget about everything outside of paddling. Basically whenever I paddle life is good.  
My favorite rapid is either Tanner’s Boof or Oceana on Tallulah Gorge.
My favorite boat is my remix 69.
Kirsten Bailey: As a baby, my parents dragged me on countless river adventures, which eventually led to my own kayak(s).  I gave up the sport for a few years and strictly rafted or canoed…I decided to pick up whitewater again, invested in all the gear and hoped that I would be able to follow in my father’s footsteps as what many people considered crazy on the river.  My first trip down my home river (Stonycreek River in Johnstown, PA) I was absolutely terrified, as soon as that adrenaline rush took over, I completely forgot about being scared and realized that nothing will ever beat this high and I couldn’t get enough of it.  Stonycreek being my home river has easily made it my favorite and every time I learn something new and have come to realize that it is never the same river twice and it tests my skills in a different way each and every time.  I have been paddling a Dagger Mamba 7.5 for the last couple years and can honestly say that I love my boat…I would certainly stick with a Dagger in the future.
Tye Dudley: Big titties! Tasty waves! Sunny day! And cold beer! Get up in the morning and do it again… what’s not to love?
Also to answer your question, my favorite boat –  the “Baby”: Hyside, good high floatation, 12 foot wide, two thwart, 6 man boat blue with older model military valves.  Favorite rapid Sledge Hammer, high water on the Royal Gorge of the Ark when Mt. Rush is super juicy!
Kassie “Z Sand Dog” Dudley: Well of course finding the perfect sandy river beach to roll around in! And when me and Tye’s at the Put In of a river I never been on before I know I’m going down the river  doesn’t matter what! I trust Tye he wouldn’t take me down anything I couldn’t handle. 
Yeah! My favorite rapid is Frank Bells on the French Broad, that’s my home river I gets so excited every time I gets to run it and when we get to the bottom of Bells I’m always wagging my tail, that’s the big rapid on the stretch and we rocked it! My fave boat is an 11 ft Vanguard self bailer.
Marshall Klay: Paddling is my reset button, its a spiritual bond with mother nature that helps to clear the restless mind. My favorite rapid would have to be Kanawha Falls because you can make so many lines with different water levels (park and huck baby!!!) and favorite boat would be the Shiva, its my go to shit runner!!!!!!!!
Pat Keller: Kayaking gives us the option to be explorers in a world of the explored. The places we can get to with a kayak often can not be hiked to and stumbled across. Some look to the high mountain peaks, some look to the stars, and some to the depths. I find solace in plugging into the gutters and drainage ditches of this wonderful world about us. On top of that, with our kayaks we get to learn the science of water and its patterns – something so much more powerful than us – that science and our skill allowing us the chance to fall over some of the most dynamic and impressive asterisks of our world.
Favorite rapid – Depends on the day, sometimes it’s Gorilla at 200%, sometimes Heath Springs on the Royal Gorge NF American, and sometimes it’s Wintergreen on the Toxaway.
Favorite boat – MINE! and by mine I mean both – the boat I’m in at the time and Shane’s & my new LL prototype the Braap!
Amy Van Eerden: People paddle for hundreds even thousands of different reasons, but personally I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key points.  We paddle because it allows us to continuously challenge ourselves.  We paddle because it opens doors to explore new rivers across the world.   We paddle because we love the crazy, wicked adrenaline rush!   Most importantly, we paddle to share our love and respect for the river with our friends, family and custys. Happy Valentine’s Day you DBPs!  Now get our there n make mad love to some whitewater today<3
Seori Ormiston: My love of paddling comes from the other people on the water. I know I would never had done some of the stuff I have if I did not have my guys with me.
My favourite rapid would have to be Ecstasy on the Alto Noguera in Spain. Fast short gorge, love it. My favourite boat is anything I am in. Really I love all boats but at the moment I am loving my Jackson Karma.
Marv Honeywell: I love paddling and that is why I am still alive. I think. But you know how fickle the love of your life is.
Just any good canoe with somewhat traditional looks; and the rapid is no great shakes but the Wing Dam at New Hope PA has a wave down the center that I used to sit on, to prepare for West Virginia. Got my sea legs there. Have not been there in decades. I have been to so many nice rapids, but that was a good practice spot, so it sticks in my mind.
Evangeline Lambert: My favorite boat would be a sotar ST. I like the way they track. 
I usually have a favorite rapid on each river I’ve been on but to have a favorite rapid over all? It’s impossible. 
I love paddling because it’s about adapting to the way the water moves. The water sets the pace (even while racing, we bring it down to the pace of the rapid). When I’m reading the water, scouting lines or working off my paddle partner[s], for me, it’s not a left brain analytical approach, it’s very much a right side creative process.
Martin Kowalski: Words really cannot describe how much I love paddling. When I am paddling it is like I am in a different world.                               I wouldn’t say I have a favorite rapid, every rapid is unique and has its pros and cons. When I ask myself “what is my favorite rapid?” There is no specific rapid that pops into my head. I mean of course there are rapids that I like more then others. If I had to choose I would say one of my favorite rapids is Upper and Lower No Name (Ottawa River).                   I have not tried every boat out there but from what I have tried I would say my favorite creek boat is my Dagger Nomad 8.1. My favorite playboat would be Wavesport Mobius or my 2012 Jackson Rockstar. For long boats I have to include a Duo and a Pirouette S or Jackson Karma Unlimited.
Clay Wright: I love the thrills, beauty and travel opportunities that paddling has brought into my life as much as anything in this world I can think of.    And my favorite rapid is tough but Meatlocker on Alsesecca, Landbridge Toxaway, and ‘Buccachi” on Jalisingo are all big winners in my book!   Best boat – Zen LG right now as it’s fast, fast fast and NEW!
Sean Woody: I was blessed to be exposed to a lot of whitewater as a young child, but it wasn’t till I reached adulthood, full of all its soul sucking obligations and responsibilities, that I came to fully appreciate what paddling could do for me. I love paddling because it’s therapeutic, it allows an immediate and effective escape from the mumbo jumbo and babylon of our day to day lives.  It’s both a meditation and a battle.  It gives us something real to fight, brings us together, and usually brings out the best in us.  When you’re paddling challenging whitewater nothing else in your life matters.  Your financial situation, your relationship problems, your job, all the successes and failures of your day to day life mean nothing when you’re on the water.  It’s just you and the river, and even when it defeats you, it still leaves you with  a satisfaction that the rest of your life can’t provide.  When you’re paddling the river you feel truly alive.
Oh yeah “Favorite Rapid” and boat.    That’s tough to choose.  Probably “Rams Horn” on the Upper Wind River.  Or maybe Zigzag canyon on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon.   Boats..  that’s also hard.  I like 14′ Sotars for guiding the White Salmon.  But I’d rather be in a 16′ or 18′ Maravia if I was doing a big water multiday trip on Hells Canyon or the Grand.   For technical creeking and R2ing big drops I really like the Aire E-bow that my paddling buddy Hans uses.  Great rocker for keeping the nose up when running big drops and hitting big holes, and since it’s heavier than the Sotars it holds it’s momentum really well, likes to stay right side up, and doesn’t get tossed around as much in the rowdiness.
Ben Moore: I have loved utilizing the power of water to play since I was but a weeee tot!  swimming, canoeing, snorkeling, sailing, surfing were my first loves. Paddling class IV in a kayak for a decade was an enjoyable rush. But I always felt a little something missing. Sitting down never fully replaced the feeling of scratching down the face of an ocean wave standing up behind me, popping up and feeling the G forces push me through a bottom turn. I recently found that feeling again standing down river through rapids. It feels like I have come home!
30,000 cfs in Pipeline on the James here in Richmond is a lively day. I enjoy it on my Beach 225d by BIC.
Bret Goering: I love paddling because I can explore amazing places and push myself. 
My favorite boat is the Pyranha Burn gen 2. Favorite rapid: Flirting With Disaster, Raymondskill Creek, Delaware Water Gap, PA
Todd Wells: I love paddling cause it brings me to church. 
Bourquin Falls
Greenboat
Marco Maccioni: Thanks, My prefered kayak is the Dagger Crazy, and the best rapids in a 5 star way to be in are on the Zambesi. Wink! 
Brian Briant: My love for paddling is like an addiction. It takes ahold of me like a euphoric drug. I can never get enough, always leaves me wanting more!
My favorite rapid is Double Z, Lower New River 
My boat of choice right now is my 9’6” Saturn raft. 
Willy Heindel: My love for paddling comes from many things: from the rush, to the people and friends met on the river, to getting away from the world and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. There is nothing more relaxing then a paddle down a nice set of class IV rapids or a crisp clean surf wave.
Favorite river would probably be the Red River in WI. Boat obviously my Jackson Rockstar M. 
Colin Hunt: To try to sum up one’s love of kayaking in just a couple sentences one might as well try to sum up the meaning of life in the same amount of space. Let’s just say it provides friendship, adventure, excitement, challenge, and exercise into one package. To continue past that one will undoubtedly start to ramble.
Favorite Kayak: Perception Whiplash. It is the go to boat for any run. Good for a triple crown on the Green as well as stern squirting every eddy line on the Gauley.
Favorite Rapid: Gorilla at 200% which is really Pencil Sharpener, the Notch, Gorilla, Scream Machine, and Niec’s Pieces. At 200% they all flow together and turn into one rapid. There’s nothing else that I’ve found that has the same level of complexity, size, power, and yet is still really good to go.
Martin Tremblay: Je suis accrot au kayak en eau vive 
Chaque sortir pour moi ses un défi !!!! je me dépasse à chaque fois!! 
j’adore papayer au tent l’été que l’hiver 
Pour moi!!   a chaque fois que je suis sur leau, j’oublie tout ! ,,Et ce qu’il conte pour moi ,, Ses de m’amuser   Je suis fanatique et en amour ,considérable pour la marque  pyranha 
J’ai deux kayak !! Mes kayak prefairer  ses le jed et le Varun 
Il sont malade et très performant.
Mon endroit préféré est a valleyfield, Et à la rivière rouge.
I am hooked on whitewater kayaking.
Every outing for me is a challenge. I surpass myself every time.
I love paddling as much in summer as in winter.
For me, each and every time I’m on the water, I forget about everything. All that matters for me is to have fun. I am a fanatic and I am in love with pyranha kayaks. 
I have two boats, my favorites are the Jed and the Varun. They are sick and very efficient.
Andy Lockey: I love the “different” people, the feeling of floating, the raw power, the adrenaline, the solitude, the booty beers, the adventures, the friendships, the whole experience of paddling. I’ve done many sports and have had many hobbies but paddling is different. It’s a lifestyle and I love it. My favorite rapid is Chaos Cascade in Tumwater Canyon on the Wenatchee River in Washington. It’s a stepping stone kind of rapid that keeps me on my toes every time I paddle it. I’ve bounced around boats a bit lately but my current favorite is the Jackson Karma Medium. First day in it was on the Valin River in Quebec and it brought a huge amount of confidence to put it simply.
Marlin Starr: I love the the wilderness, I love the rapids. For me “I love rafting” is a way for me to get into the wilderness. And have steak and beer. In rapids I find the best Zen, for it is in the middle of a class 5 rapid where I’m forced to be in the moment or swim. There is no greater sense of community then on the river. Out there the only ones to save your ass are the other people on the river. You are kinder out there because you rely on the others.
Favorite river would be Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho. Favorite rapid Disneyland North Fork Payette River. Favorite boat the one I am in but I love Sotar.
Ryan Waterhouse: My introduction to whitewater rafting was one of the most significant moments of my life. It changed my views, values, and my quality of life. I never feel more alive and in my element than when I’m on the water. Those rivers give off so much energy and I just feed off of it. I love the challenge, the beauty, the amount of variables, and the never-ending capacity for experimenting and improving. My favorite boat is the Aire Super Puma and my favorite rapid is…..this is probably one of the toughest questions I’ve ever had to answer! Probably Big Poplar Falls on the Dead river or S-turn on the Little White. Very very different rapids but both stand out to me.
Angela Marie Brown: The river, the rush. The rapids that crush and pound your chest. The heart throbbing spills and dunks. Follow the green lines. The swims, the wins. The walking away feeling of…”Yeah! You got this.” Despite the dumps and the drains. I cant fuckin wait to DO IT AGAIN!
Larry McNutt: Paddling provides a multi sensory challenge in which the experience is novel and rewarding on each occasion.  
Each raft designed by AIRE has a unique application depending on what our needs are for that specific mission.
Sarah Cartron: Paddling gives you a space to reconnect with yourself, because it’s only you against the world out there.
Kim Regnitz: Sum it up…hmmm, what comes to mind is that paddling taught me and continues to teach me soooo much about myself. It is a wonderful metaphor for life, mainly “Go with the Flow”…, in whatever life throws your way. It is also a magnificent ‘mindfulness’ sport, as it teaches about being totally in the Now, because if you are not focused there, you be swimming….! 
I have to pick just one??? That is a challenge. In the midwest, I would have to say “horserace” rapid on the Peshtigo at 18 – 22. While I enjoy this in a kayak, it is great fun with a small donut (raft).
As for other Rivers, I like the middle and lower Keeney Rapids on the New, in a kayak of course (years ago, my Dancer loved it!)
On the Chattooga, section 4 I liked “Corkscrew” (kayak of course) kinda felt like a Corkscrew navigating it, Awesome pics from that Rapid! 
Tom Paterson: Sum up your love of riverboarding?
Riverboarding to me is the ultimate adventure. Not many people riverboard where I’m exploring these days so there’s a mystery about it. I’ve always enjoyed swimming and being in the water. For me swimming down a river is a unique feeling because I not only feel the rapid on the surface but I can also experience the currents below. Riverboarding is also a great workout; it’s definitely a endurance sport especially when surfing big waves. I think above all, I love freestyle riverboarding because every wave is unique and offers a different freestyle opportunity. Thinking up a new trick… practicing that new trick… finding the perfect wave for that new trick… then finally landing that trick for the first time. That’s one reason I love riverboarding.
I’m still working on my favorite board. The summer of 2014 I started making my own boards… experimenting with different shapes, rockers, and foam densities. I love getting out there and trying out the prototypes. New shapes sometimes offer up new tricks or new ideas for tricks.
Whats your fav rapid?
 I like to think I haven’t found my favorite rapid yet. I’m always exploring new rapids and somewhere out there (probably on a big volume river in Quebec), is my favorite rapid waiting for me. But in my mind, my ideal rapid would look a lot like Coliseum on the Ottawa River. This rapid is so different from low to high flows, and at every level there’s new lines and new features to explore and drop into. Even in low water it’s a deep enough rapid that I often find myself trying to go deeper and gain more downtime. Mid levels offer some meaty features and there are even some beautiful big waves like Big Kahuna which can get 10ft tall. And then there’s high water Coliseum… just the thought gets my heart racing. Getting butterflies in my stomach from the falling sensation of dropping through main tongue, followed by massive unpredictable 15 ft waves and rollers. I never know when it’s going eat me…and there’s no better big water training than doing lap after lap on the main tongue. Love it! … And then there’s Gladiator! I haven’t had the privilege of surfing this wave yet but I’ve been scouting it for years and it’s been a long-term goal of mine. It’s a 20 to 25 ft wave with a big water lead in, and a giant ledge hole behind it. It’s a work out just swimming out there let alone surfing the wave… and the potential airtime and limitless freestyle opportunities… its what dreams are made of.
Keith Bunce: It’s hard to say why I love paddling in one word. There are so many reasons why I love paddling. I love the challenge and adventure. I love the scenery and me time. I enjoy spending time with other crazy cool paddlers. I just really love paddling. My favorite rapid is Horserace Rapid on the Peshtigo.
I love a Hyside Funyak (IK) because I’m in control for the most part of my own destiny on the water. I have no one else to blame about falling out of the boat other than myself and the river gods. 
Sam Benetto: The love and ability of being connected to something that is greater than ourselves is what paddling means to me. To be a small part of a huge whitewater picture fills my heart and soul with a freedom and love that can not be obtained through anything not of this natural world. To me, paddling whitewater is a pure form of love and expression of appreciation for who we are as creatures and for all the river has done for us to make us more aware and humble individuals. My favorite rapid is Left, Right, Left on the Ocoee River. My favorite boat is a 94 series Baby Aire.
Diego Fabiciack: O RAFTING entrou na minha vida a uns 10 Anos atrás quando eu ia com meu pai pro rio me divertir descer algumas corredeiras era algo incrível. Passei  muito tempo observando seu jeito de guiar, suas linhas e técnicas. Hoje sou instrutor a 5 anos e já não consigo ficar sem rema, quando estou no rio é algo fantástico posso sentir a quelha paz que a natureza me passa, a alegria e emoção das pessoas depois das altas ondas e quedas  do rio. A família rafting e muito bom por que vc pode estar em qualquer lugar e vc encontra alguém que fala eu também remo e pronto já nasce uma nova amizade, novas risadas, novas aventuras então acho que amo de mais o rafting e já não posso mais ficar sem.
The RAFTING came into my life about 10 years ago when I went with my father to Rio for fun, down some rapids was something incredible. I spent a long time watching the way you drive, your lines and techniques. I’m now a river guide for 5 years and I can’t  do without paddling. When I’m on the river, it is fantastic. I can feel Quelha, peace, that nature gives me, the joy and excitement of the people after big waves and waterfalls. The rafting family is very good for you, go anywhere and you will find someone who speaks paddling which brings new friendship, new laughs, new adventures, so I guess I love rafting and can no longer be without it.
Kaja Zinja Halvorsen: It’s a hard question to answer. Must be the feeling of freedom. To play with the forces of the powerful whitewater and all the wonderful people! The river is simply magical! Surprise and Engleporten (Angels) rapids on the Numedalslågen are my favorites, the last one is a raft flipper!
Jake Oratch: I love paddling because of the adrenaline rush, and because I like meeting and talking with new customers on every trip.
My favorite boat to ride on is a 12 footer, and my favorite rapid is the Second Sister.
So many answers, so many boats, so many rapids around the world… But the one thread running through all of the answers seems to me to be THAT WE DIRTBAGS LOVE TO PADDLE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, and our connection with The River and our friends is lifelong and runs deep. I’ll leave you with my own thoughts…
“Chicago” Mike Toughill: I am in a committed relationship with my paddling. Once it was an addiction, now it has mellowed into real love where quality outranks sheer quantity. The rush of cleaning Class V, the newness of that first run down a river, of making friendships at the put-ins, eddies, and take-outs, a quiet moment before the commercial trip rounds the bend, the heat of the moment when there are twenty swimmers in front of me, the anticipation of a high water day, the relief after a monster swim… All of these things flood my mind when I think of what paddling has given me. A sense of community, a mastery of skills, confidence and decision making have all been my reward for pursuing my passion. 
My favorite boat and rapid? I’ve loved all the boats I’ve been in (each trip seems to get me saying “THIS IS THE BEST TIME IVE EVER HAD!), and would run anything; I’ve run many rivers all over and have many favorite places; but as I leave for good I’ll see myself eddied out below First Drop on the Peshtigo, sitting in my yellow Funyak guide boat, waiting for that next customer to WALLACE….. 

Like the article? Help us out! We want to keep bringing you the best paddling features and news.

  • Show Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links