Quick Intro: Kayaking History
While no one is certain of the exact date kayaking came to be, it is estimated that kayaking history started around 5,000 years ago. The first kayaks were used by the Inuit people and were designed the same as kayaks of today, but different material was used as the cover. The original kayaks were made of wood frames with a sealskin deck. Then animal skin was attached to the deck to keep the Arctic water out of the chamber and keep the rider warm. Kayaks are silent on the water. This aided with the Inuit’s approach to enemy territory and made kayaks a lethal hunting tool. The phrase ‘the Eskimo roll’ that kayakers use today, came from the Inuit’s ability to roll upright if the kayak flipped.
It wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that kayaks became a boat of leisure. John MacGregor introduced a kayak named “the Rob Roy.” During his exploration of Europe’s rivers, he wrote “A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe” that told of his travels. His mission was to introduce people to a new way of traveling. The book was a hit and kayaking became a popular pastime for many people. This led the way to kayaking becoming a competitive sport in 1873. Kayaking was introduced to the Olympics in 1924 and then became a full medal sport in 1936.
The first fiberglass kayak was constructed in the 1950’s. These boats weighed less than their predecessors and were more versatile. Thirty years later, manufactures started making kayaks out of plastic and Kevlar. Today, kayaks are still made of either fiberglass, plastic or Kevlar.