Originally Posted by Mmcquillen
If anyone has photos of what type of stuff they were running when they got sponsored that would be great.
Ummm. pick up a recent video of sponsored and professional paddlers, dude. THAT will show you the level of paddling professionals are at. It will also show you where you need to be to get sponsorship primarily on the merit of skill. Whatecer happened in the past is irrelevant.
The most important thing in sponsorship is creating a financial or sales benefit for the brands that are helping you out. Your gear benefit is totally secondary and peripheral to them. You should believe in the product and company and a sponsored athlete a main objective is to help them grow. IF you can demonstrate that you have a good strategy for this and have decent paddling skills, companies might be willing to work with you.
The reality though is that whitewater paddling is a very small industry, unable to support many professional or regional athletes. Regional sponsorships generally are not very lucrative for the paddler - you basically end up trading a lot of volunteer work for discounted gear...which is cool if that's where you're at. If you are a working stiff with little time, where your time is money, you'll save money by just buying your gear outright.
All that being said, a good idea for you may be to start with a shop sponsorship and forge some connections through hard work and a drive to promote the shop and their brands through the appropriate avenues.
The best idea though is to just go paddling and have fun. Sponsorship in whitewater kayaking is generally is overrated unless you are the way top....or if you just want to do it for fun. Maybe that's where you're going and if so, best of luck!