Twitch and shout 

Kayaking video takes audience to the edge

What: Twitch IV video & Jock Bradley slide show

Where : Tantalus Lodge

When : Sunday, March 10, 7 p.m.

Twitch IV and slides from Jock Bradley’s Rippin’ Productions take you to the edge.

"That moment from the brink of the waterfall to the instant where you drop is like the feeling you might get driving off the edge of a table," says Stuart Smith, a member of the Canadian national kayak slalom team and a former member of the Alberta and British Columbia provincial kayak teams.

"If you picture yourself skiing down an avalanche, that would be the closest comparison to whitewater kayaking."

Smith has been paddling in the Squamish area for 20 years. Mamquam Falls is a favourite local drop.

"It’s quite the impact at the bottom."

Smith is just one of the featured kayakers in Eric Link’s new video, Twitch IV. Tao Berman is another.

"Once I was kayaking in Norway over a rapid I didn’t scout, and right in the middle of it was a hole which was starting to get me kind of trashed," says Berman.

In other words, he was sucked into a kind of whitewater washing machine set on agitate.

One shot in Twitch IV features a manoeuvre whereby Berman puts an end of the kayak into a current and part of the bow into a hydraulic, allowing him to somersault. His cartwheels and freestyle moves are part of the show.

Kayaking has come a long way from its beginnings in the Arctic regions, where the Inuit fashioned light kayaks from wood and sealskins. They were used for hunting, fishing and travelling from one remote place to another. They never did cartwheels.

Today, kayaks are made of polyethylene plastic, and cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. Paddles cost up to $600. High-end waterproof clothing can cost as much as the rest of your gear.

And it’s always changing.

"Models and hulls change every six months, so there is quick turnover," says Bill Lamond of Wild Willies, a local outfitter that specializes in kayak equipment. "In the last 10 years there has been a move towards shorter boats. We try and keep up with it"

Whitewater kayaking can be dangerous when taken to extremes, but that’s half the appeal for athletes like Berman, and the people who watch movies starring guys like Berman.

"Ironically one of the closest calls I’ve had was in a class 2 section of water where I was doing tricks," he says. Rapids go from class 1, easiest, to class 6, the most extreme.


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