Meet the team Mondays: Every Monday we are going to show case our awesome team members which we support in the paddle sport world.
This week we are introducing team paddler Gareth Farrow.
Hi Gareth, how are you? I guess what we should start with is how did you get into the world of kayaking?
I'm pretty sweet, rested up and fully recovered during lockdown ready for the A.OK from Boris for us all to get back out on the water!
My parents, I was 6 years old when I went with my mother to watch my father kayaking with the local canoe club in Aberystwyth on the harbour in an Acrobat 360, ribbed BA, the lot! I thought it looked awesome and wanted to have a go. That winter I started in the good old sunbeam before being bought my first ever boat of the Perception Jib in purple and red.
What is your local paddling venue? My local ever since university has and probably always will be CIWW having spent many a 7am training with Canoe Wales there. I love being able to pick up any boat and just going and having some fun. It’s safe as houses and you can be a beginner or an experienced kayaker and still have great fun. Picking up playboating tips off others and giving out general guidance and help while there, there is never a dull moment there.
What is your current boat of choice and why? That would depend on the situation but my go to boat is the Pyranha Ripper. Ever since I first paddled it, I fell in love with it, it is an all-round fun boat that you can use in any situation. I use it for everything from racing boater cross, to flat water and coaching, to alpine class 5 rapids and waterfalls. The only time I decide that it is not the best boat for a situation is when going on expedition, and for that I use a Zet Cross, it’s just that bit bigger for multi days.
What is your favourite piece of kit? The Watershed Futa Stowfloat airbag. It is absolutely amazing; you can utilise all of the space in your boat with kit for either expedition or just normal group kit for coaching. I think it’s a great airbag as its fully watertight with easy access.
Who inspires you in the paddling world? My original inspiration in kayaking was Paul Ratcliffe, Olympic canoe slalom K1 silver medallist in Sydney 2000. I was overjoyed when I got to meet him at a Division 3 slalom race in Matlock not long afterwards, and it really inspired me to keep up the training so I could one day try and follow in his shoes. Many years later I then had the pleasure of being coached by his father Bob Ratcliffe which was just as motivational! Nowadays: The cliché answer would be the send boys Dane Jackson and Bren Orton. They run some pretty rad stuff, but they are so down to earth in person. Being on the water with them in Uganda 2018 for Nile Fest was a real inspiration, helping me progress in freestyle. The less cliché answer would be Johny Haines and the Pistyll Production boys. Having paddled with John a few times over the years, and now it’s awesome watching what he's up to out in Austria and everywhere else. Makes me crave being in a boat and running stouts.
Have you got any big plans in mind for when this lock down is all over? Any adventures or new skills you want to learn? I haven't set any plans in stone for when lockdown is over, but I have so many ideas. Chances are I will end up on a road trip to Scotland or Austria depending on whether I dare leave the country. There are so many rivers in both countries that I am yet to discover. Skills wise I would love to learn to cobra flip! But it’s more likely I will help the local canoe club get back up and running again, passing on the skills I already have to others.
What have you been doing to keep yourself sane during lock down? Any new skills learnt? I have been sorting out old media, rehabing and recovering so that after lockdown I am fully fit for boating! Other than that, I am keeping up general fitness through cycling and running. Oh and moving house!
If you could have any colour boat or pattern what would it be? To be honest, I already have it. I ordered a Ripper after being selected to race for GB in the Extreme slalom World Cups through the Canoe and Kayak Store. I just needed a boat, any colours I said. When it arrived a week or so later it was a premade boat: Blue, Dark Grey and White Pyranha Ripper Stout 2.
Thanks for sticking around to check out my answers, hope to see you all out on the water soon!