Kayaking is a fun activity that involves moving through water in a small, narrow boat which is typically propelled by a double-bladed paddle. Due to its easy access and basic functionalities, kayaking has become a popular modern activity among people worldwide, whether they do it just for fun or professionally. However, not many people know the fact that kayaking has been around for centuries.
Remain popular to this day, the kayak was first used by the Inuits in the Arctic regions. They used kayaks for hunting, fishing, and transporting passengers across the water. Nowadays, kayaking has become a great activity for enthusiasts of all levels. It can be a fun recreational activity and has developed into a competitive sport.
If you are interested in kayaking, you may want to get to know better about this fun sport. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 most fascinating facts about kayaking you don’t want to miss!
1. Over 4.000 years Old
Kayak is traditional water transportation that has been around for a long time. Archaeologists have found evidence indicating that kayaking is, in fact, at least 4.000 years old. Native peoples made many different types of boats for different purposes, such as hunting and transporting passengers.
Traditional kayaks consist of three major types. They are baidarka, West Greenland kayaks, and East Greenland kayaks. Most Eskimo people relied on the kayak to hunt prey such as seals, whales, and caribou.
2. The Oldest Kayak in the World is from 1577
You can see the oldest kayak at the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich, Germany. This kayak was found on the coast of Holland and is believed to have arrived there in 1577. The Museum Fünf Kontinente, also known as the museum of five continents, displays the largest ethnographic collections. You should visit it one day!
3. Ancient Kayak Use Animal Materials to Make Them Waterproof and Improve Buoyancy
In the older era, there were two types of kayak: one was made of light wood, while the other was made of animal bones and stretched skin. Before the invention of plastic kayaks, the tribe members used whale fat to make the kayak waterproof. The fat works as a barrier that prevents the kayak from getting wet.
Older kayaks are also less stable than modern kayaks. People use seal bladders and fill them with air to add buoyancy and improve the kayak’s stability. Back in the day, people put seal bladders on the fore and aft sections. The bladders also make the kayak so much easier to control. This fact about kayaking may be a bit morbid, but that’s how it used to be!
4. The First Official Olympic Kayak Race was in 1936
Canoe and Kayak races at the Olympic Games usually involve flatwater sprints or slalom events. Canoe-Kayak sprints were first held at the Olympic Games in 1936, while Slalom Racing later became part of the Olympic Program in 1972.
Before it became official, the Canadian canoe/kayak race took place in 1924 as a demonstration sport during the VIII Olympiad in Paris. The Olympics committee also added the women’s kayak competition later, nearly 30 years after canoeing made its Olympic debut.
5. Kayak’s Role in the World War
It is an unpopular fact that kayaking was part of World War II. In December 1942, the British army launched five folding kayaks, transporting ten British Royal Marine, to attack merchant ships carrying vital war supplies to the German-occupied port of Bordeaux. The kayak’s use was supposed to be undetectable. However, three kayaks were caught in the mission leaving two kayaks with four remaining men.
That was not the only time kayaks were being used during the war. On 21 September 1941, Henri Peteri paddled a kayak across the North Sea from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands to join the UK’s war effort.
6. The European Won the Most Medals in Kayaking
When we take all of the medals won throughout the canoe or kayak Olympic subdivision, Hungary takes the first place, followed by Germany. However, this is the record under all subdivisions in the canoe/kayak races.
There are also some facts that need to be considered, such as many nations (i.e. Slovakia and Germany) used to compete under different nation names in the previous Olympics. However, the Europeans still won the most medals in kayaking.
7. Tyler Bradt Set the Record for Highest Waterfall Kayaking
Tyler Bradt holds the record for the tallest waterfall ever run in a kayak for Palouse Falls, a 186-foot waterfall in Washington. In fact, this achievement set a record in kayaking history since only a handful of kayakers have ever tried their luck at running anything over 100 feet.
Tyler set the record on April 21, 2009, after scoping out the waterfall for about three weeks. He plunged over the Palouse Falls, diving 20 feet underwater for seven seconds before finally rising to the water’s surface.
8. Farthest Distance in Kayaking in 24 Hours
The farthest distance by canoe or kayak on flat water in 24 hours is 251.71 km (156.41 miles). Sebastian Szubski, a polish, achieved this record in Ocwieka, Poland, on 18-19 June 2019. This was Sebastian’s fifth attempt at this record after narrowly missing out on his previous efforts. The previous record was set by Brandon Nelson, who traveled an approximate distance of 151.3 miles around Lake Padden in 2013.
9. There are More Than 10 Different Types of Kayak
People who don’t kayak or are new to kayaking might think that all kayaks are the same. It is not because kayaks actually have different types meant for different purposes since their invention. Today, there are at least 16 different types of kayaks specialized for different purposes. There are whitewater kayaks, folding kayaks, sea kayaks, fishing kayaks, and diving kayaks to name some of the most popular ones.
10. Alexander Doba Holds Multiple Records for Trans-oceanic Kayaking
Aleksander Doba is the only person to successfully kayak across an ocean more than once. He spent 387 days at sea and earned several Guinness World Records titles. In 2015, Doba became National Geographic Adventurer of the year and received several of the highest awards and distinctions in Poland. He delivered his peak achievements between the ages of 65 and 71.
11. Franz Romer was The First Person to Cross the Atlantic in Kayak
Franz Romer is the first person on record to kayak solo, crossing the Atlantic from Europe to the Americas. It was 1928 when he completed a 58-day solo crossing of the Atlantic from Lisbon to the Virgin Islands. Romer designed the kayak himself, a 21-foot, 6-inch wood-framed kayak with an eight-foot mast for a sail. The body was rubber and canvas, about 39 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
12. Old Kayak “Umiak” was Up to 60 Feet in Length
The various kayaks developed by the Arctic Eskimos have two basic types: a small-decked canoe developed for hunting, and the umiak, ranging from about 15 feet to approximately 60 feet in length. The Umiak’s purpose is for carrying cargo and passengers long distances.
Some Eskimo groups have also been using the Umiak in whaling and walrus hunting. They are generally faster and have more advanced designs. At least compared to those used only to carry families, household goods, and cargo. That’s right, the constant Eskimo movements for visiting, trading, or changing hunting grounds require kayaking!
13. The Largest Parade of Kayak is 329
The largest parade of canoes or kayaks is 329, achieved by Miasto Bydgoszcz and Bydgoskie Stowarzyszenie Kajakowe Binduga (both Poland), in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on 1 September 2018. This record-breaking event happened during the “Kayakmania”. It was honorary patronage of famous Polish canoeist and traveler Aleksander Doba.
14. Longer Kayaks are Faster than Shorter Kayaks
The speed of a Kayak depends on so many things, including the materials and the expertise level of the driver. The shape of the kayak also plays a role in its speed. In general, longer kayaks are typically able to achieve higher top speeds. This is due to the fact that longer kayaks are usually narrower, which reduces drag as you are paddling.
However, shorter kayaks are usually more stable. This is because shorter kayaks tend to be wider, which offers better stability on the water. Nevertheless, choosing longer kayaks or shorter kayaks would depend on the purpose of kayaking itself.
15. Kayaking Improves Your Memory and Help You Get Better Sleep Quality
Kayaking is known for its amazing health benefits. Besides physical benefits such as muscle gains and a better heart condition, kayaking can also enhance your memory. Aerobic exercises such as kayaking can boost your hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for verbal memory and learning.
Kayaking can also be exhausting, especially if you do a long session of kayaking. By the end of the day, you will fall asleep faster and might as well fall into a deep sleep state which allows your body and brain to rest properly.