Happy belated New Year to everyone in the paddle-o-sphere! The 2012 paddling season provided some amazing moments and countless good times on the water. I think that we can expect the 2013 paddling season to be just as exciting! Here are some of my predictions:
A kayaker will attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean:
(Cough, Aleksander Doba, Cough)…The ultra-bold, Aleksander Doba became only the fourth known person to cross the Atlantic Ocean by sea kayak back in 2011. Unlike his contemporaries, the 64 year old Polish paddler took a southerly route. Doba traveled some 3,320 miles from his launch in the West African nation of Sengal to his landing in the city of Acarau on Brazil’s northeast coast. The trip took 99 days to complete (an average of 34 miles per day) during which time he survived on dehydrated foods, fish, candy, rainwater, and pure determination. The last time I checked, Doba had a crossing of the Pacific Ocean, sea kayaking’s ultimate Holy Grail, in his crosshairs. Granted, Ed Gillet barely made the 2,200 mile crossing from California to Hawaii back in 1987 but Aleksander Doba has the experience, guts, and expedition structure to make it the whole way from South America to Australia! This may be my boldest prediction for 2013 but I think that we can all agree that it’s only a matter of time before someone crosses the Pacific Ocean by kayak.
Freya will continue to dominate her South America Circumnavigation:
One only needs to read “Fearless: One woman, one kayak, one continent” by Joe Glickman to understand that there are only two things standing in the way of Freya Hoffmeister and completing her unprecedented circumnavigation of South America: millions of paddle strokes and time. The woman is a paddling machine with the nerves of a big-wall, free-climber. Nary high seas nor monster crocodiles made her sweat in Australia and she’s already put the most challenging paddling behind her in South America this past year when she turned the corner around Cape Horn. My prediction: Freya finishes her second leg on schedule and doesn’t bother to crack a smile…
The paddle board bubble will burst (at least in the Northeast):
I distinctly remember sitting down for a meeting about this back in 2009 and it was plain as day: paddle boards would be coming to the Northeast in droves and it was time get “in” on this new big thing. In the years since we’ve witnessed this sport explode in popularity! It seems like paddle boards are everywhere you look on the water these days: ocean, ponds, rivers, races, and even yoga classes! Let’s be real though, paddle boarding in the Northeast is mostly a fad and it’s only a matter of time before it fades like yo-yos and pogs did in the ‘90s. I’ll acknowledge that there’s a wonderful (yet small) community of dedicated paddle boarders who are around to stay. However, the sport was not new to many of these folks when the bubble hit in the late 2000s and their ranks certainly didn’t account for the explosion in sales. My prediction is that Craigs List is going to be flooded with paddleboards as soon as those folks in the “everyone and their brother” category get bored…prove me wrong, 2013!!
More “Play the Sea” kayaks will hit the market:
Let’s set the record straight: “Play the Sea” kayaks are not a new thing. The likes of the Hurricane Riders from California and other visionaries from the Pacific Northwest have been building custom, ocean surfing kayaks designed to survive the extreme conditions of rock gardens and tidal races for many years. However, the P&H Delphin and the new for 2013 P&H Hammer represent two production models that hope to take this more extreme niche of sea kayaking to a rock garden near you. I wouldn’t recommend that the average paddler go out and trade in their touring boat. “Safely” putting yourself into the extreme ocean conditions that “Play the Sea” kayaks are designed for takes skill, experience, training, and cast-iron guts that are beyond most of us. My prediction is that “Play the Sea” will remain a limited niche but I’d expect at least a few designers to put their fingers in the pie and come up with something that can compete with the P&H models.
The KayakDave.com Duct Tape Kayak will win a race:
If I’ve learned one thing about kayak racing over the years it’s that being competitive often has less to do with the kayak and more to do with the paddler. This was not the case for the Duct Tape Kayak Team in 2012. We were very lucky to have the fit and formidable Alex Russo in the cockpit thus leaving the prowess of our paddler without question! There’s no doubt that various design flaws in the 2012 Duct Tape Kayak proved to be our handicap. Plans for the 2013 version include the addition of a rudder, a more thoughtfully outfitted cockpit, and some tweaks to the hull that should help transform our duct tape monster into a racing machine! My prediction: with a year of experience under his belt and his eyes on the prize, Alex will be first to break the tape in at least one of our races this year! A bold prediction??…I guess we’ll see…
Have your own predictions for the 2013 paddling season?? I’d love to hear them!!