kayak New Zealand

Kayaker Jaime Sharp heads to New Zealand with some of the Pygmy Boats crew, including the founder’s daughter and photographer Freya Fennwood, to film the area and local boaters for a paddling video series. The goal Sharp has for the series, “Yak About Adventures, a New Zealand Roadie,” is to answer one of humanity’s oldest questions: “why do we choose the paths we do and what gives us meaning?” Sharp hopes to offer some answers from the perspective of kayakers who spend their lives paddling rivers and coastlines around the world.

The series will begin by highlighting New Zealand as a premiere paddling destination. Sharp and his team will interview kayakers about their favorite rivers, lakes or coastlines and their philosophies about their lives as paddlers. The team will also spotlight New Zealand’s iconic boating companies such as the Bliss-Stick factory, River Valley lodge, and Sea Kayak guiding outfits.

CanoeKayak.com got in touch with Sharp to ask him about his ambitious project and the kickstarter he started to make the video series a reality. Here’s what he had to say:

kayak New Zealand

CanoeKayak.com: What inspired this project?
Jaime Sharp: The concept had been in my head for a couple of years. This past year as I traveled between Costa Rica, Norway, Namibia, BC Canada, Nova Scotia Canada, USA ( twice to run the Grand Canyon and to attend various boat shows), Germany and the United Kingdom. I started to realize what a unique position I was in to tell stories of living the life of the paddle. I started talking about this possibility with people like Jeff Allen, Justine Curgenven, Jon Turk, Paul Kuthe and many others. They all seemed to love the idea, and many had thought of similar concepts though had not done it yet.

I was tentative to do it as I had did not have the funds myself, nor did I have that unique angle yet to direct the project. I knew part of it would be about blending both whitewater and sea kayaking stories and breaking the stigmas that each had been stuck with for a while (young whitewater hooligan, and old grey-bearded sea kayakers). But I also wanted to pay tribute to the origins of those stigmas, and the characters who embrace them.

When did you decide you were, in fact, going to go for it with this project?
About two months ago when I returned to New Zealand, it became apparent that I had a window to start this project. I quickly talked ideas out with some backers and supporters. I realized I was really in a great position to be able to be with and talk frankly about the joys and hardships of such a life with other individuals who followed that calling. The story became about embracing the way of the paddle and telling my story as someone who has struggled with “the addiction to kayaking” all his life. Then I thought, what greater place to start the series but New Zealand? It’s my home land, where I started paddling and a country full of amazing paddlers and places to paddle.

What have been the major challenges you’ve come across?
The main challenge here has been money and time. Sometimes you get thrown an opportunity and you have a very small window of time to decide whether it can be taken advantage of. By the time I had discovered I could make this work, there were literally only five weeks before I had to leave to NZ, and it was apparent we needed money. Kickstarter was recommended numerous times as a great way to get this going, and I put together the campaign. Meanwhile in the background Freya and her coworker Laura Prendergrast jumped in as the film crew, sponsors came on board with some money and lots of gear, and there was huge interest and support for this project. Well, I committed and so did my crew. I am now in NZ and the next hurdle is getting the van we need to get around with, and to tie down dates and times with all the people we would like to feature.

Click to learn more about the video series and donate to the kickstarter project.