Tyler Fox, pictured below, grew up in small-town Ontario (Marmora, that is), but currently splits his time between the Ottawa River and Okere Falls, New Zealand. "Doesn't everyone have a Northern and Southern Hemisphere home?" he asks. Umm, if we could only be so lucky. At least we can live vicariously through the 29-year-old on the bleeding edge of freestyle kayaking, watching his latest video edit (with shout-outs to Tribe and BombFlow). The highlight reel stacked deep with north-country paddling talent demands some serious questions (Where was? Who was? Wait, was that a? Holy crap, he's still on the wave, how'd he?). So we caught up with Fox to get some answers, and to have him weigh in on where he sees the sport of freestyle kayaking now, and where he sees it going.
Canoe & Kayak: What's the biggest, gnarliest wave paddled in this cut, you think?
Tyler Fox: The entire last segment of the video is focused on a new wave "The Land of the Lost", which Joel Kowalski had been eyeing up since last year. This is without a doubt the biggest, most gnarly wave ever surfed. What you don't see in the video is a lineup of seasoned, hardened big-wave surfers sitting on the sideline trying to find the nerve to just attempt to drop in. The river has about 70,000 cfs pumping down into the wave so you can imagine it would be a turbulent ride.
For me the best trick in the entire flick would have to be Dane Jackson getting absolutely launched into space on the Detonator Wave (at 1:20). Dane has amazing style when he throws his airscrews, so to see that trick being done a solid 6-8 feet of the water is pretty sweet.
What have you been up to lately?
I enjoy balancing my paddling out over many aspects of the sport, so after getting my big-wave fix in Quebec, I hit up a couple festivals and competed in some creek racing, then spent the summer creeking in Cali, enjoying probably one of its best ‘water-level’ seasons ever. After the Cali season wrapped up, I spent six weeks in Nicaragua before heading back to Ottawa to work and to catch up with friends and family.
What do you have planned for 2012?
I am currently packing my bags to fly to New Zealand for the winter. I spend a lot of time instructing kayaking there, while enjoying its many beautiful rivers. It is also a great place to train for the up-coming racing season. For this coming year, I plan to push my creek-slash-extreme racing a little harder while still getting my big-wave and creeking fix. But to be honest, I can't make plans for more then a month in advance as everything always seems to be changing.
Which stakeouts are most of the footage here from—is this all from the last year?
The entire video was shot over a three-week time period this past spring. We had a great snowmelt and levels where high everywhere which brought in all those fantastic waves.
Why do you think Ottawa and Quebec are pulling and producing such top freestyle athletes and pushing the sport?
Yeah, the Ottawa area has definitely produced or pulled in some of the top athletes, especially in the freestyle scene. I think this is largely in part to fact that there are sooo many different world-class waves that you are able to surf / train on, but I am biased. I took my first paddle strokes on the Ottawa, so it will always be top of my list.
What's the future of freestyle kayaking? Does it get bigger than this?
I feel like the future of Freestyle kayaking is going to be some amazing combination of expedition kayaking and total aerial domination. There are definitely bigger, better waves out there; it's just that it is going to take way more exploration on remote wilderness rivers to find them. And as far as what people are doing on these waves … it's only going to get more creative. No sport like freestyle kayaking will ever go stagnant; there will always be someone out there thinking up new or different ways to do things.