Whitewater kayaking Information

Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater. River rapids are graded like ski runs according to the difficulty, danger or severity of the rapid. Whitewater grades range from I or 1 to VI or 6 . Grade/Class I can be described as slightly moving water with ripples but for that reason is not considered 'Whitewater.' Grade/Class II/2 can be described as moving water providing some small degree of challenge. Grade/Class VI can be described as extremely severe or almost unrunnable whitewater, considered almost certain death, such as Niagara Falls.

The kayak used in casual whitewater kayaking is different from those used in whitewater racing or sea kayaking. Traditionally, kayaks were made of animal skins stretched over wooden frames. Early whitewater boats were fiberglass or kevlar, and this is still preferred for racing due to the light weight, but most modern whitewater boats are typically rotomoulded from a tough plastic that is slightly flexible and very durable, if easily scratched. Boats can range in size from barely long enough to hold the paddler , up to 12 ft or longer.

Paddling on rivers, lakes and oceans is as old as the Stone Age. The raft, the catamaran, the canoe and the kayak evolved depending on the needs and environment of the indigenous peoples in different parts of the world. The modern day kayak most likely originated about 8,000 years ago along the Siberian coast line by the Yupik and then transformed from the open canoe, via the Aleut and Inuit, into an enclosed kayak. Simplified, all the ethnic groups of the entire polar region are called Eskimos and their various boat versions Eskimo kayaks/canoes.

Wikipedia, Whitewater kayaking, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitewater_kayaking (as of Apr 10, 2010)

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