Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Purists vs Extreme

Well, did we start a dialogue with the paddling and surfing community with our last post on rafting news! We had received info on the APT circuit for tow-in surfers. Tow-in surfers are not paddling out into the waves. They are dragged out towards monstrous waves because you can't paddle using human power to get through the hellacious currents. Motorized watercraft or even helicopters are used to break through the coastal waves and out into mega-waves of epic proportions. This is not for the weekend surfer.

Purists decry the use of motorized, smelly contraptions that are used to get those tow-in surfers to the waves. Surfers are in two camps over the subject, much like kayakers, skiers, snowboarders and rafters. Purists are looking at the natural formations of any sport. Is a water park the same as a kayak run through Giant's Gap? Is a boulder strewn river that has been dynamited for safety the same as rafting through a potentially dangerous rapid? Is a snowpark the same as wilderness backcountry snowboarding?

Extreme sports have graduated into different camps because of participants' skills. Surfers such as Laird Hamilton have accomplished so much in regular surfing that the temptation to push it to the extreme levels is warranted. They need to get to the bigger waves. And yes, sponsorship monies are definitely attracted to the extreme levels of any sport. Look at kayaking. Kayakers used to be happy with a successful run down Class 5 rivers. Then sport boats came out and the same run was pushed to a more extreme level so kayakers could do tricks. Then kayakers went over falls and drops, and now, kayaking is so extreme that rivers have been abandoned for creeks.

It's a dilemma. In order to educate people on how precious our environmental resources are, we end up promoting the extreme levels of each sport in order to draw money, sponsors and public support. How do we keep the excitement of any extreme sport without the extreme participants? It makes good copy for news releases and it definitely piques the interest of the outdoor public.

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