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Old 01-05-2011   #21
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
Just a thought, but could the way kayaking has been portrayed in marketing [ suv's and such] contribute to the perception that is only/primarily an extreme sport and scare off most people?Maybe if it was portrayed as normal people having fun on intermediate stuff it would seem more realistic to most folks.Still even for 3-4 you have to buy expensive equipment and develop some skill, most people will be deterred.Still golf could be described the same way and attracts millions,but it is marketed to middle aged or at least 30'ish people with money.I dunno'.

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Old 01-05-2011   #22
buena vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 135
i blame the SUP fad. people are hesitant to learn to roll, so someone suggests they buy a SUP board. Then they realize they live no where near the ocean or anything remotely SUPable, except for the town lake. i'd probably loose interest too if i lived in a state of incredable whitewater and i just paddled the town lake.

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Old 01-05-2011   #23
Mike Harvey's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 805
whitewater paddle sports are growing...

from my perspective whitewater paddle sports are growing. here is a photo from a park we built last year in Springfield, Ohio, not historically a hotbed of whitewater paddling:

We are currently working on a park in Iowa, finished one in Michigan and looking at several others in places that would surprise you. Oklahoma City passed a huge tax measure last year to help fund a state of the art pumped whitewater course.

While there is no doubt that whitewater paddling has some barriers to participation I think the overall trend is slow but measurable growth...
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Old 01-05-2011   #24
Meng's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
Mike, thats a cool pic. With expanding accessibility to the types of areas that you are reffering to above, you could really grow participation and thus the market. This paralells my theory on why rail/urban/park riding is so popular in snowboarding. The industry somehow figured out that by creating a rail/urban scene it would open the sport to every kid in the county where snow falls, even in the flats or cities. Suddenly snowboarding is not just for mountain kids anymore. Pros get paid to do trips to Minneapolis etc. Same idea here maybe. In any case, I am excited to check out the new 'improved navigation boat chute' on the Gunny. Oh, and you should come ski with me - we'll hit some stuff that's steeper than 20 degrees.
American Whitewater's website and river stewardship projects are funded by paddlers. Please join, renew, or make a donation to help us protect whitewater rivers in Colorado and nationwide.
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Old 01-05-2011   #25
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Golden, CO
Paddling Since: 1856
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 339
Who really cares how many new boats are sold? A newby would have to be crazy to blow $1000 on a new boat when there is such a glut of used boats for a few hundred bucks. The designs really haven't changed much in the past few years anyway.

Originally Posted by Canada View Post
When I started boating there were not alot of other boaters by todays standards. Boats like the huricane came out followed by Wave Sport and Riots boats that seemed to reshape the sport and bring an incredible influx into kayaking. Recently, the trend seems to be deminishing. Maybe it is a flavor of the month thing, but I bet if you talked to boat manufactures, they are selling quiver boats to established boaters, and not as many new boats to newbies.

I agree river use is up, but think that is largely a rafting segment. Kayaking is the best sport in the world. Maybe it was just the meteoric rise through the 90's with parks coming into municipalities that caused my perception. I bet the boat reps could give some insight.
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Old 01-05-2011   #26
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 138
i think you are seeing a couple of things:

1st.... in the summer of 2010 colorado / california saw some of the highest flows in the past 10 - 15 years. people got worked! i think there were a lot of early season swims and people got gun shy and hit the bike trails. on the other hand, i was surprised to see how many people showed up for bailey fest and were on the big t in november.

2nd.... i may be wrong but i feel like the majority of paddlers right now are between the ages of 25-35 and we are products of the baby boomers and our parents were all nuts. there are a handful of 18-22 year olds out there firing it up but it doesn't seem like as many as when we were that age. now that the 25-35 year old age group is having kids, i think you will see a huge jump in the younger kayak scene over the next 10 years. the fact that companies are making boats for the young ones is a good sign. these kids will be doing things we never imagined possible. (i'm sure forrest's and dave frank's kids will be sick and inspire their friends. nick w's kid will have perfect form. evan and kyle's kids will write about it).
the lack of kayaking being used in mainstream marketing campaigns may have an effect on the amount of rippers wanting to get into the sport as well. the general public just doesn't see it and when the do, its not something they can grasp.

3rd... why are people running the shit when they can't roll?

i ran into lane jacobs 2 weeks ago. the last time i saw him was 10 years ago on the crystal gorge when he was 15! i never see 15 year old's running the shit these days. calling out all 15 year olds!! what's up? why aren't you running the shit?

the only time rivers are too crowded is if your playboating, on upper cherry at low flows, or on the big south opening day. the more kayakers on the river, the better it is for the sport.
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Old 01-05-2011   #27
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Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 583
Expensive? Yes if you are buying brand new gear! Who does that? When I started, I was working for a local rafting company and bought a crappy kayak, PFD, and helmet for $50, then bought a used spray skirt for $20 at a kayak shop. I was young and my mom bought me a new Werner paddle for christmas. I paddled in all kinds of crappy clothing untill i could eventually buy a dry top.

If you want in bad enough, you can do it for next to nothing....then the river is free. Cost was no issue for me.

Most of my original paddling buddies quit boating....they had one really bad experience and eventually quit. You need to progress with maturity, not testosterone.....only then will you paddle your whole life.
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Old 01-05-2011   #28
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Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 27
Why is this an concern?

Just wondering what your motivation for getting more people on the river is? When I got started I just stumbled across a video once and went to a pool session got used and borrowed gear and went out with a local club in the Midwest. If you want younger boaters out to enjoy the river thatís ok but you also risk attracting more than you would ever want. Mountain biking in the late 1980's exploded with new technology and suddenly all the trails were closing prompting the creation of IMBA (may be wrong). If kayaking explodes more it will cause greater user conflicts between all river users. All I can say is go to Golden Colorado on a hot day and try to kayak with the tubers, raftersí swimmers and all the users trying to use one quarter mile section of the river. With that I also support more small groups like Team Dirt Clod ( ) in the Midwest. This group has a small core of individuals as well as a large network of many who will take newer boaters and loan them gear take them on easy runs and provide free guidance to them. This group started as a way for Midwest boaters who had to travel to paddle could network and work together out of need. In the states with the rivers its all word of mouth out there it seems. You can find good people on the rivers to give you a pointer but getting to the river is the hard part when it's either overcrowded, off limits or nowhere in sight.
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Old 01-05-2011   #29
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 325
Kayaking sucks and is for d-bags like Sean Lee...that's probably why its declining. Join the cool kids, buy a raft a snowboard and a SUP.
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Old 01-05-2011   #30
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
'Why is it a concern?

For me personally, it isn't. My main question is one of continued viability of the sport I love. Plus, I was sick of seeing pictures of rigging, saturn rafts, etc. Finally, I want this sport to thrive. I have no investment in any part of the industry. I just know it is farther between boats today in the remote locals I paddle, and the people I run into when I'm there are older. I like rafters, and love it when they carry my gear and tent in their bus, but I am more excited by driving the lotus than the school bus.

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