Testing Stamina and Rapid Manoeuvring
- Gilles Reboisson
Canoe Freestyle is a whitewater Canoe Disicpline where the paddler performs a range of acrobatic tricks and manoeuvres on a river feature such as a wave or hole. Canoe Freestyle, also referred to as Playboating, is enjoyed by many as a recreational sport. At the top level, Canoe Freestyle athletes participate in competitions both nationally and internationally. The sport is constantly moving forward with paddlers with new spectacular moves emerging at each competition, year in, year out.
Video presentation of Freestyle: www.facebook.com/video.php
Canoe Freestyle through the Ages
Walt Blackader is perhaps single-handedly responsible for the emergence of the Canoe Freestyle discipline. In 1968 Walt, an avid sportsman, developed his own techniques for entering rapids sideways and backwards. He and his friends went on to make especially nimble fibreglass kayaks and many other kayakers followed Blackader’s lead. The new Canoe sport grew into what was initially known as Rodeo.
Along with the 1980s and the emergence of other extreme, freestyle sports such as snowboarding, wakeboarding and skating, came a rise in popularity in the recreational level of Canoe Freestyle.
The competitive side of the sport was popularised in the 1990s. But it is really in the last decade that the sport has exploded and that’s mainly due to the incredible developments in boat design. Many Canoe Freestyle athletes are now in the business, designing boats for athletes and playboaters around the world. Most notably is US-based Jackson Kayak, headed by Eric Jackson; four-time Canoe Freestyle World Champion and USA Canoe Slalom National Champion in 1990. Jackson Kayak is just one company that has produced the smaller more manoeuvrable boats that we see on the Field of Play today.
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