This week we caught up with Team Paddler Jack Grace, who you might have seen behind the bar or a camera as a volunteer at our events. Read on to hear about his favourite rivers in Ecuador and check out his Instagram for some amazing kayaking shots.
Where are you currently based?
Kent, but soon to be Lake District!
What is your day job?
Soon to be entering the real world of work in a Project Management role this year
Where did you grow up?
When and how did you get into kayaking?
I first started kayaking on the flat with my local Scout group but got into whitewater properly at the University of Nottingham.
What boat(s) do you paddle?
Exo T-rex and Rexy.
Where’s your favourite river or place to paddle in the UK and why?
The Mawddach has got to be one of the best sections in the UK! It has everything: waterfalls, technical rapids and miles of read and run. When it really rains the lower section becomes a big water dream!
Where’s your favourite river or place to paddle outside the UK and why?
One of my favourite rivers is probably the Rio Fuy in Chile. Waterfalls, endless boofs and crystal blue water. Chile has everything you could want as a creekboater from steep technical creeks to huge volume rivers. The top class boating and an amazing cultural aspect makes it an epic place to go. There is so much left for me to run there and I will definitely be back!
Tell us a bit about your favourite kayaking adventure
My top kayaking adventure is a toss up between the Rio Pachijal and the Rio Cofanes in Ecuador. The Cofanes was an amazing, remote over-nighter with world class rapids and a terrifying portage. The Pachijal turned into 5 days of bush-whacking through the Ecuadorian rain forest, putting on at wrong sections due to bad beta and rappelling down un-runnable creeks but ended in one of the most rewarding days on an amazing section of whitewater with an all-time crew that made it all worth it!
What advice would you give to someone new to kayaking?
Try everything! All disciplines will help you learn new skills and each are fun for different reasons! Just get out on the water as much as possible with friends and find out what you enjoy most!
What advice would you give to someone looking to take the next step and improve their kayaking?
The best way to improve your kayaking is to try harder moves on easy sections. Don’t jump up in grade too fast, you will improve much faster and learn more skills if you play around in sections that you are comfortable in, rather than be in survival mode down something you are not ready for! Plus, it’s way more fun to set challenges with your friends and play your way down the river. When you do step it up you will be so much more comfortable and safer than if you had just jumped straight into it.
River Legacy supports grassroots paddling and encourages participation in paddlesport, how important is that to you and what would you like to see RL do over the next couple of years?
It’s awesome to see River Legacy getting more people out on the water. I got into whitewater through a small bunch of people trying to encourage casual flatwater paddlers (Scouts) to give it a go in an environment that didn’t promote any other form of paddling. It would be great to see River Legacy lend a hand to people and organisations that encourage all disciplines of the sport so that more people can access all areas of the sport!
What is your favourite River Legacy event and why?
Teifi tour! A handmade indoor pool in a party tent and a weekend of volunteering and kayaking with your mates? You’d be mad to miss it!
What are your plans for 2021?
I’m entering the real world of work but still planning to head out on a few kayaking trips abroad with friends and to explore my new local rivers of the Lake District!
Any final comments or things you’d like to promote?
Volunteering for River Legacy is one of the most fun ways to experience the events! The set up with some of the best bunch of people is just as much fun as the event itself!