3 Outdoor Water Sports To Try This Summer
Meet three locals who love river surfing, kayaking or sailing.
photograph by Dylan Leeder
Adam Baranec is a Calgary river surfer. “I got into it because I needed something to satisfy my surf cravings while I was stuck in a land-locked city, but there’s plenty of surfers in Calgary now that have never surfed in saltwater,” Baranec says. “Physically, it’s a little like surfing an ocean wave, except the ride lasts a lot longer and you’re not actually moving. Kind of like snowboarding in good powder, especially if you’re on a nice, clean wave face. The fact that the wave lasts forever is amazing. You can take your time and try a new move over and over, and the wave doesn’t disappear on you. Mentally, it really clears my head. During a good session, when I’m really feeling like I’m in a rhythm, it can be almost meditative. And the community is amazing.” —D.L.
Visit albertariversurfing.com for more information
photograph by Jaime Sharpe
Nolin Veillard is the founder and managing director of Trak Outdoors, an Airdrie-based company that makes Trak Kayaks, collapsible skin-on-frame sea kayaks perfect for travelling. Stow it in its carrying case and it will fit easily in your closet, car or as checked luggage.
“We live in very turbulent times,” Veillard says. “People need to find solace, which is why they go hiking and why they do these kind of things. One of the things that’s interesting about paddling and about water sports is that we as human beings are made up of between 55 and 75 per cent water, and so getting to water and being on the water and in the water brings us into alignment with our own nature. Sitting in a kayak — especially this kind of kayak which is a membrane skin on frame — when you’re sitting in the centre and your butt’s actually below the water line (which is different than canoeing), you’re very centred. You’ve got this left-right paddle stroke, you get in this rhythm, and it’s extremely therapeutic. I believe you really connect to the water in your body, to the water around you, and you feel the water through your calf muscles. You’re connected at a very intimate level to the water. It helps ground people from their busy, intense lives.” —K.L.
Trak Kayaks runs discovery days and skills progression training for new owners to learn kayaking skills and tips. Find out more at trakkayaks.com
photograph courtesy of Debbie Kirkby
Debbie Kirkby is a 63-year-old competitive sailing racer who has won the Fireball Canadian National sailing competition five times since 1995, including last year, and also won the U.S. Nationals with Robert Levey last October. She learned to sail on the Glenmore Reservoir.
“Sailing a dinghy is like being in a sports car compared to sailing a big keelboat, which is like driving a Winnebago,” Kirkby says. “They’re small, they’re fast, they’re really manoeuvrable and they’re really thrilling to sail. When you’re in a race with a lot of other boats, it’s a chess match from start to finish. When you tack, where you position your boat in relation to the wind and where you’re going against all the other boats that are also making strategic decisions places you either in an advantaged or disadvantaged position. And then there all the rules to keep everyone safe. So there’s a chess match, and the thrill of going fast, and the wind, and the waves, and the water and you’re working together as a team. It’s one of the sports where you don’t have to be 18 to 24 and then you have to quit. You can sail for the rest of your life.
“I like the feel of going fast in a boat. You can feel the air moving past you. You’re trying to create or minimize speed. And then you’re also steering your boat through the waves and over the water. To be fast, you have to steer to keep the boat engaged with the water, you don’t want it to bang and jump around too much. You’re constantly feeling the pressure through the mainsheet of your sails in your hands and you’re also guiding the boat through the waves and over the water. There’s a sort of communion that’s happening that you’re trying to bring all these elements together to synthesize this motion and it can be hypnotic.
“I’m 4 foot 11 and a half. If I can do it, lots of people should be able to do it.” —K.L.
Learn to sail with the Glenmore Sailing School (run by the City of Calgary) or the Glenmore Sailing Club, which also hosts a weekly Wednesday-night race series. liveandplay.calgary.ca; glenmoresailingclub.com