Times have Changed!By RiverAngels, RiverAngels.com
November 12, 2006
It is amazing to look back just a few years and to see how far the sport of whitewater kayaking has come. Back then boats were designed for the overall public. One size fits all. This was extremely frustrating for me. I would try over and over again to master a basic maneuver and watch someone heavier try it once and crack it.
But it made sense; all of the boats manufactured were designed for the average man 6 foot and 165+ lbs. What other sport do you buy the same gear for someone who is 6 foot and 200 lbs. and someone who is 5'5 and 120 lbs.? None! Can you imagine Lynn Hill trying to climb Everest in size 12 shoes? Coming to this realization, I figured I could either gain 50 lbs or take part by initiating the design of the first women specific boats. I chose the later.
In 1998, with input from me and my teammates, Wave Sport came out with the XXX, the first women specific boat. Other boat manufacturers quickly followed suit. At that time, these new boats were a dream come true. I look back now and smile because today boats are designed much smaller, lighter, and more accommodating to our gender. They are shorter in length with narrower widths allowing for a trouble-free roll, and a lower deck height, making it easier to reach around the boat for bracing or initiating the newest freestyle trick. With boats that finally match our size and weight, learning any dimension of the sport is made simpler. Having a boat that fits, anything is achievable when combined with good technique and skill.
With more and more women paddling, boat manufacturers are not the only ones recognizing the female market in kayaking. Gear manufacturers have also stepped up to the plate, designing apparel specifically for women by women. Take lifejackets, there are PFDs tailored just for females not just a scaled down men's version. These lifejackets are anatomically correct that wrap around our physic for an idle fit rather than crush. Clothing attire is getting sexier. Paddling pants and dry suits are custom-made for women now giving a smaller waist, a shorter torso, and fuller hips. Companies are listening and responding to the female gender.
With the right mind and equipment, the possibilities are endless in kayaking. For those just beginning, you are a super lucky…what a great time to start with all the new advances in boat design and apparel. Remember learn the basics. Having a sound foundation of the fundamentals is important as you excel and learn more difficult tricks. Remember learn at our own pace, everyone excels at different rates. Most of all keep in mind it's all about having fun! It's a sport that will give you more than you can imagine.