We all know that one guy who reminisces about the rough rapids he hit that day and the near death experience by a strainer. Yet everyone knows that in reality there were mere ripples in the river and a floating log. We all have a tendency to think we’re a little more hardcore than we really are. But after looking at these paddlers, you may be brought back down to reality.
Hendri Coetzee was a South African kayaker and adventurer who was part of the first source-to-sea exploration of the Nile River in 2004. He opened up tons of waterways for kayak travel throughout the African continent. Sadly, he was killed by a crocodile when he was only 35. His body was never found so we can only hope that he stayed in the rivers of the continent he loved so much.
When one thinks of a 64 year old man with silver hair and an awesome beard, we think of Gandalf or a fictional character. Some may even think of their grandfather or the corner store drunk. Aleksander Doba is none of the above. This Polish native kayaked alone from Dakar, Senegal in West Africa to Northeast Brazil; a whopping 3320 miles in 99 days. He paddled a 23 foot customized sea kayak and lived off of dehydrated food, candy, and fresh fish that he caught along the way. Only three other paddlers have completed this voyage, and all were about half his age.
Templer was paddling down the Zambezi River when a rogue hippo knocked another paddler out of the canoe. As Templer attempted to haul the thrown paddler back into the canoe, the hippo came up and grabbed Templer out of the canoe by his head. He went three rounds with this rogue hippo and lived to tell about it. The hippo severed a main artery in his arm, but it also sealed it, which kept Templer from bleeding out. After the mauling, Templer walked away without an arm, but with his life nonetheless.
As an 18 year old, with the world at his fingertips, Caleb Brousseau had everything to look forward to. His life was rocked when he suffered a spinal cord injury due to a bad landing off of a 12-meter snowboard jump in 2007. This didn’t deter his passions though. He continues to kayak and is a Paralympic Skier. Even without the use of his legs, he is a remarkable white water kayaker and doesn’t let his injury define him.
Being a world champion freestyle kayaker at 17 is enough to puff out your chest and gloat a little bit, but in 2011 all Jason Craig cared about was paddling. Third in a group of seven, Jason went to drop the 30-foot waterfall of Dry Creek near Auburn, California and nearly lost his life. After the drop, all that Jason’s team saw was him come out of his boat and cling to a rock without response. He suffered a fractured pelvis and sacrum and a torn dural sac, a bag of nerve endings at the base of the spine. After a six hour-long surgery, and two weeks of hospital recovery, Jason was released with physical therapy in sight. Since the accident Jason has continued kayaking and recently won the silver in the Pro-Men’s division at the 2012 US National Freestyle Kayak Championship.