By Conor Mihell
In the 1980s, early whitewater canoeists stuffed their oversized, creased and mangled Blue Holes and Mad Rivers with salvaged tractor-trailer inner tubes and the like (Nolan Whitesell used an old waterbed bladder) to provide floatation for running Class IV drops. Then along came Mike Yee, a Toronto-based playboater who, along with U.S. whitewater canoeing pioneers Bob Foote and Frankie Hubbard, revolutionized whitewater outfitting. Yee’s end cages, D-rings and thigh straps began as a backyard business and are now standard factory outfitting for many manufacturers. Combined with shorter, more advanced canoe designs, these innovations opened the door to a new world of big-water open boating.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 2009 edition of Canoe & Kayak, as part of our feature The Innovators.
Canoe & Kayak Innovators: 14 Visionaries Who Changed Our Sport Forever
Fun Brothers Jim and Jeff Snyder // Paddling Provocateur Corran Addison // The Prophet of Polyethylene // Warriors of the Self-bailing Revolution // Aluminum Canoe Guru Bill Hoffman // Sit-on-Top Visionary Tim Niemier // Open Boat Bomber Nolan Whitesell // Sea Kayak Savant Frank Goodman // The Bublik // Air Bag Revolutionary // The Royalex Miracle // Videographer Wayne Gentry