Male Paddler of the Year
Age: 27 | Ontario, Canada
Known For: Unmatched big wave prowess and big water style. First D of Site Zed on the Stikine and the Congo’s Inga Rapids with Fisher, Sturges and Bradt. Also, the hair.
This Year: Another big year for Ben, despite an injury that forced him to sit out the Whitewater Grand Prix, and a savage bout of leptospirosis contracted during the first descent of the Rio Nechi in Colombia. His continued excellence on big-wave stakeouts, high-water Little White laps and Stikine season were rewarded with mainstream viral recognition, including a million-hit YouTube run for kayaking B.C.’s steepest drainage ditch. Also, gets friendly with Sasquatch and hucks big waterfalls at night as the star of the viral kayak film sensation, “Dream.”
Age: 35 | Chico, CA
Known For: Exploring remote whitewater rivers all over the world, including 109 first descents in 24 countries.
This Year: Teamed with Nepali charger Surjan Tamang to explore the Lower Gorges of the Dudh Khosi—a previously un-run section of the “Relentless River of Everest,” which has loomed large in whitewater lore for nearly 40 years. Also notched first descents in Hawaii, Svalbard, Norway, Laos, Nepal and India while producing the sixth season of “Kaiak,” an adventure series on Brazilian television in which he stars with Pedro Oliva and Chris Korbulic.
More on Ben: Story + Video
Age: 20 | Rock Island, TN
Known For: Learning to kayak before some kids learn to read.
This Year: Claimed an unprecedented third title at the Whitewater Grand Prix, the most complete test of paddling skill ever devised. With Jordan Poffenberger, Dane set a new lap record on Tomata Falls in Mexico, running the 60-foot waterfall seven times in one day. Dane also was the youngest member on the Red Bull Michoacan mission, where he and the team claimed a number of first descents in Mexico’s dangerous western state. More Recently, Dane broke the freestyle record at the GoPro Mountain Games with a score of 1470.
More on Dane: Story + Video
Age: 25 | Bozeman, MT
Known For: Sending big drops with unparalleled grace and style and spreading whitewater stoke worldwide as a founding partner in Substantial Media House.
This Year: The 2013 C&K Paddler of the Year won the Little White Salmon Race in May, signaling that he was back in form despite sitting out much of he season after breaking his leg, twice—first on 115-foot Puma Falls in Chile, and again weeks later on Class IV. The forced layoff was a challenge to Garcia, with a silver lining for fans of his Substantial TV series: epic edits from Peru, Chile, B.C., and the Stikine
Age: 19 | White Salmon, WA
Known For: Being willing and able to step to the hardest whitewater in the world. This progressive young boater is a leading light in the next generation of whitewater paddlers.
Known For: Galen has had a breakout year, including the highest complete descent of the Little White Salmon, at 4.7 feet. Also became the youngest paddler—and only the fourth ever—to run Site Zed and record a complete descent of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. Ran 70-foot-plus waterfalls for seven consecutive days, including 95-foot Abiqua Falls. Celebrated a year well spent by “winning most of the Whitewater Grand Prix parties.”
Age: NA | Catalonia, Spain
Known For: An insatiable appetite for big, technical whitewater, and a consistent force in extreme race competition.
This Year: After a near-drowning while filming in Mexico with Sturges, Garcia and Ortiz in February 2013—he was clinically dead for several minutes-Gerd went on an unprecedented whitewater tear. In September he lapped Site Zed on the Grand Canyon of the Stikine multiple times—an extraordinary achievement, considering that the world’s best paddlers had walked the rapid for 30 years, until Ben Marr’s first descent in 2012. Gerd’s Stikine exploits crowned a year that also saw him take home the AWP Whitewater World Series Championship.
Age: 20 | Chattanooga, TN
Known For: Styling massive waterfalls, many of which are first D’s, throughout the Southeast and Pacific Northwest.
This Year: Hunt has run 70-foot Desoto falls seven times, placed in the top five at the Green Race, claimed the fourth descent of 90-Foot Noccalula Falls, and won both the long- and short-boat classes at the Screaming Quarter Mile Race in Colorado. In June he blew the minds of thousands of Minnesotans when the local news featured him styling the first descent of Minnehaha Falls , a complex 53-footer in downtown Minneapolis.
What’s Next: Hunt Plans to return to the Southeast to spend time with his family and train for the Ocoee, Russell Fork, Green, and Addidas Sickline races. He also will visit Minnesota to explore new whitewater before heading to Chile to chase the endless summer.
More on Hunt: Story | Video |Website
Age: 25 | Beachburg, Ontario
Known For: All-around paddling excellence and consistency.
This Year: Joel had one of his best years yet in both competitions and expeditions. Masterminding the Red Bull mission to Michoacan with fellow stalwarts Rafa Ortiz, Dane Jackson and others. Joel starred in the popular WebTV series called “First Descent Michoacan” propelled by Red Bull. On the competition front, a 3rd place finish behind the likes of Dane Jackson and Rush Sturges and a second place finish at the Ottawa XL to top off his impressive season.
Age: 19 | Fairfax, VA
Known For: Keeping up with the pros—with half the paddle
This Year: Jordan won the C-1 and OC-1 classes at the Freestyle World Championships last fall, before going on to set a new lap record with Dane Jackson at 60-foot Tomata Falls in Mexico, running it seven times in one day. Jordan also holds the world record waterfall run for C-1 on Metlako Falls.
What’s Next: Jordan is competing at two of the Slalom World Cups in Europe in C-2 with Tad Dennis. He then will continue on to the three Freestyle World Cups where he will compete in C-1, OC-1, and K-1.
More on Jordan: Story + Video
Age: 23 | Grenoble, France
Known For: Making high volume river expeditions look easy all over the world.
This Year: Over 20 first descents in Colombia, including the Cauca. Seven descents of the Stikine in the past two years, two of which he completed in less than six hours. That, and a winning a big metal crown at a little thing called the North Fork Championship.
What’s Next: Jules is excited to do more exploration in northern British Columbia and Alaska, with one mission combining big mountain skiing with expedition kayaking. He also plans to return to Colombia in search of more unexplored whitewater.
Age: 28 | Asheville, NC
Known For: Inspiring the old-school renaissance, firing off first D’s, and dominating at the Green Race-all while holding down a day job
This Year: Pat claimed his second Green Race title last fall with a 6 second lead. After kickflipping his way down Oceana at Tallulah Fest, Pat joined Steve Fisher on an expedition to New York’s High Peaks Wilderness, where they successfully navigated the 950 foot-per-mile Upper Hanging Spear Gorge, as well as 70-foot Hanging Spear Falls.
Age: 26 | Mexico City, Mexico
Known For: Going big, period. Rafa is arguably the world’s preeminent big-waterfall hustler and a top-tier expedition paddler. He regularly bombs 100-foot-plus drops, including the first descent of 128-foot Big Banana and the second descent of 189-foot Palouse Falls.
This Year: Spearheaded a multinational invasion of Michoacan in his native Mexico, planting the Red Bull flag on a number of significant First Ds in the dangerous state in Western Mexico.
Age: 29 | White Salmon, WA
Known For: Paddling, and capturing on film, some of the most challenging whitewater ever run.
This Year: Finished a strong second in the most complete test of whitewater skill ever contested, the Whitewater Grand Prix. This despite a frenetic filming and editing schedule as he prepares a much-anticipated feature film for debut this fall.
What’s Next: More laps on the Little White, more training, a lot more time in the editing bay, and a film tour.