I vote for Larry Vermeeren
I'd like to put in my vote for Larry Vermeeren who is incredilbly bad ass in so many ways, yet has spent his 32-year kayaking career under the rader, so to speak (not getting the recognition he deserves).
Larry was an icon in the Arkansas Valley before most people started kayaking--a guide, paddle maker, local paddler, kayak instructor, and one of the first people to paddle from Granite to Canyon City in 1 day--he was an active part of the community here in Colorado.
More recently (1993) he helped pioneer whitewater kayaking in Ecuador and started Small World Adventures--a company offering week-long kayaking trips in Ecuador. He also built the premier kayaker's lodge in Ecuador right on the banks of the Quijos River.
Through this, he has become an important part of the kayaking community in Ecuador. He offers courses and issues guide licenses to local rafting guides in Ecuador. He offers FREE ACA courses for locals there, donates money to the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute to help conserve the rivers he loves, and donates his time to local events. He is incredibly self LESS with his time if it means helping others to enjoy whitewater.
The most recent showing of his bad assness: he is 54 years old and just paddled 58 days in a row starting Jan. 1st, 2008.
And, as if all this wasn't enough, he was on the cover of the original Colorado kayaking guidebook--it doesn't get any better than that!