Is it a Kayak?

07 Dec

Crossing the Ditch


The Crossing the Ditch guys are getting some serious press at the moment and good on ’em. Completely insane endeavours like this stir the imagination and drive people on to outdo them with something even more crazy. Like putting a man on Mars! It all starts with Garry Turner going for the world record for the most amount of clothes pegs a person can clip onto their face

Garry “Stretch” Turner

and it ends up here

Distant Shores


That’s right folks, there’s a direct correlation between pegs on face and Martian colonisation. Somewhere in the middle is paddling from Australia to New Zealand in a fibreglass tub. Many die from this sort of thing. The great Andrew MacAuley did. So did Virgil Grissom. Each attempt is a step forward to conquering the Universe. It’s in our nature. Let’s not fight it by tut tutting and saying they were foolish to set out. Let’s praise Garry “Stretch” Turner loud and joyfully, urging him to strive for one more peg and then cry Bravo!, the Great Man has broken his own record.

 This year we are celebrating Paul Caffyn’s epic circumnavigation of Australia in 1982. He did this in a Nordkapp, I believe. Andrew did his trans-Tasman in a Mirage 580. Ed Gillett in a modified Torfino double. The CtD guys are using a purpose built capsule that’s paddled like a kayak but looks like something else. At what point does the incredible become the prosaic? Flying across the Pacific in the Southern Cross is worlds apart from flying it in an Airbus A380. They’re both aircraft, they use the exact same principles of aerodynamics and they look identifiable as airplanes but you can be pretty confident the Airbus will get there on time with a minimum of fear and comparative comfort. So is the CtD boat a kayak? How definable is “kayak”? Can the word only tolerate minor deviations from the Greenland “qajak”? What about Baidarkas, K1s, Surf and whitewater kayaks, Mirage 580s? Where does resemblance end? What about materials? Is the Mirage a kayak because it’s not skin on frame? The Polynesians colonised the Pacific with ocean-going canoes that are vastly different from Canadian canoes or dugout canoes but they are still canoes. I said in a previous post that maybe ocean-going kayaks must be different from regular sea-kayaks because they are just not up to it. In that case the CtD boat probably does qualify as a “kayak” in the same way the Southern Cross qualifies as an airplane, the Apollo 11 Command Module is a Space Craft and Garry turner is an adventurer. Even if the weight of opinion is contrary to this, they are still paddling so no matter what, it’s bloody marvelous. 




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Posted by on December 7, 2007 in Kayaking Rants and Raves


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