Whitewater Kayaks: A (very) Brief History

Becky WiseChattooga River, Nantahala, Ocoee River, Pigeon River, White Water Rafting

Kayak Clinics with Wildwater

When Wildwater started up back in 1971, all whitewater kayaks were 13′-2″.  Why this specific length?  This was the minimum length allowed for international whitewater slalom racing.  But like most sports where the equipment is used, design was the key to success.  Almost all kayak designers were trying to make a better, faster, stronger boat for racing through gates while paddling downstream, much like slalom skiing.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when a few adventurous river runners in West Virginia started playing with the design aspects of kayaks, breaking the mold, both literally and figuratively.  Innovation of design caught on quickly, and companies began adjusting all features of the boats.  Terms relating to boats you can hear today include: squirt boats, rodeo boats, river runners, play-boats and creek boats.  All of these types can be seen on whitewater rivers today, and each one has their own specialized use, from racing to performing “tricks”.  The rivers Wildwater rafts often have recreational kayakers.  Ask you guide to point out some of the differences in design.

Want some tips from experienced guides?  We can teach you on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River!

Want to enjoy kayaking on flat water, without the added adventure of whitewater rapids?  We also offer lake kayak tours on scenic Lake Tugaloo.  No paddling experience necessary on this trip!

Kayak Tours on Scenic Lake Tugaloo

Kayak Tours on Lake Tugaloo