Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving over water.
A kayak is one of the two common types of canoe used for recreation and sport. It originated with the Eskimos of Greenland and was later also used by Alaskan Eskimos. It has a pointed bow and stern and no keel and is covered except for a cockpit in which the paddler or paddlers sit, facing forward and using a double-bladed paddle.
The word “kayak” means “hunter’s boat” or “man’s boat” in Inuit (or Eskimos as these native peoples were first called) Which makes sense as these vessels were originally designed for hunting seals and whale.
In the 1740s, Russian explorers led by the Danish explorer Vitus Bering came in contact with the Aleutians, who had taken the basic kayak concept and developed multiple designs specifically for hunting, transportation, and environmental conditions. They soon recognized the Aleutians were very skillful at hunting sea otters by kayak. Because otters were a popular commodity in Europe and Asia, they would exploit and even kidnap Aleutians and keep them aboard their ships to work and hunt.
In the mid-1800s, kayaks were introduced in Europe as a soft-sided vessel for skimming across the cold waters. The Germans and French were the first to use the boats for recreation, while tribes in the North and South Poles still used the boats for exploring.
The popularity of the kayak didn’t take off until 1845 when British sportsman, John MacGregor, used his commissioned canoe, called a Rob Roy, to explore rivers and lakes in Europe. He wrote and illustrated his
adventures in a book titled “A Thousand Miles In The Rob Roy Canoe”.
Years later in 1873, and with his now famous canoe club, MacGregor introduced kayaking as a competitive sport by organizing and introducing it through a regatta.
In 1931, a man named Adolf Anderle became the first person to kayak down the Salzachofen Gorge. This may have been the birth of modern white-water kayaking. The International Scale of River Difficulty was established not long after to classify how dangerous a river’s rapids were – the same classification system used today.
This sport was first introduced at the Paris Olympics in 1942 as an exhibition event. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, it was added officially for men with a total of nine events.
In the 1950s, fiberglass kayaks were developed and commonly used, until 1980s when polyester and polyethylene plastic kayaks were introduced. Kayaking progressed as a fringe sport in the U.S. until the 1970s, when it became a mainstream popular sport. Now, more than 10 white water kayaking events are featured in the Olympics. While kayaking represents a key international watersport, few academic studies have (to date) been conducted on the role kayaking plays in the lives and activities of the public.
Kayak diving is a type of recreational diving where the divers paddle to a diving site in a kayak carrying all their gear to the place they want to dive.
Ecotourism based on kayak trips is gaining in popularity. In warm-water vacation destinations such as Sarasota Keys, guided kayak trips take kayakers on a tour of the local ecosystem. Kayakers can watch dolphins breach and manatees eat seagrass, in shallow bay water.
The longest waterfall descent by kayak (male) is 57 m (186 ft) and was achieved by Tyler Bradt (USA) on the Palouse Falls, Washington, USA, on 21 April 2009.
The longest waterfall descent by kayak (female) is 25 m (82 ft) and was achieved by Christie Glissmeyer (USA) on the Metlako Falls in Eagle Creek, Oregon, USA, on 10 May 2009.
The largest raft of canoes and kayaks consists of 3,150 boats and was achieved by One Square Mile of Hope (USA) in Inlet, New York, USA, on 13 September 2014.
The largest parade of kayaks is 329, achieved by Miasto Bydgoszcz and Bydgoskie Stowarzyszenie Kajakowe Binduga (both Poland), in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on 1 September 2018.
The longest distance kayaked across an ocean is 3,541 nautical miles (6,558 km or 4,075 Miles) by Aleksander Doba (Poland) from Lisbon, Portugal to Canaveral, Florida, United States, solo in 196 days between 5th October 2013 and 17th April 2014 aboard Olo.
Most trans-oceanic kayak expeditions are 3 by Aleksander Doba (Poland) who kayaked the Atlantic east to west in 2011 and 2014, and west to east in 2017 all solo aboard Olo.
The longest kayak stern stall is 5 min 02 sec and was achieved by Jeremy Blanchard (Australia) in Zirconia, North Carolina, United States, on 2 July 2017.
The highest altitude kayaking is 6,370 m (20,898.91 ft) and was achieved by Valentyn Sypavin (Ukraine) in Atacama, Chile, on 4 January 2020.
The record for the most consecutive cartwheels in a kayak is 264, set by Koya Morita (Japan) at Tama River, Ome-shi, Japan on 17 August 2003. One cartwheel is one complete 360 degree rotation.