Meet the Hurricane RidersThe typically tranquil image of sea kayaking doesn't work for North Vancouver's Rowan Gloag. He's a member of the Hurricane Riders, a sea-kayaking collective that's pushing the boundaries of the sport, lining up in the break at Tofino or riding gnarly standing waves on the tidal rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows. And his YouTube videos are taking the paddling world by storm.
The Hurricane Riders began in January of 2008 as the post-surf brainchild of James Dunderdale and Marty Perry, two of Gloag's colleagues at North Vancouver's Deep Cove Kayak and Canoe. Dunderdale and Perry had just spent a day on the water at a West Vancouver surf beach when they dreamed up a new vision for extreme sea kayaking. "We'd had a great session in the waves and really had our stoke on," says Dunderdale. "You can get out past the break in a sea kayak and the additional length makes it a whole lot more exciting on the way back in. We wondered why more paddlers weren't doing this."
Within a few weeks, Dunderdale and Perry had recruited Gloag, Kim Hannula, Pawel Szopa and Chris Wilson. Their objective was simple: to make a playground out of the hairiest conditions the North Pacific could produce.
The idea of filming their exploits came as a result "of just wanting to see what we looked like out there," says Gloag. He syncs helmet cams on the water with shore-based camcorders, and then edits the footage and mixes in West Coast rap and reggae from local artists such as Wilderness Crew. Currently Gloag is putting the finishing touches on a documentary he hopes to launch on YouTube by August.
With no previous training in videography, Gloag admits that the learning curve has been steep-especially in trying to capture big-water surf footage. But he's satisfied with the Hurricane Riders' accomplishments as an adrenalin-charged antidote to the grey-beard-and-floppy-hat world of sea kayaking. "I love paddling on calm water in intertidal zones," says Gloag. "But this has given me a reason to push my limits and a way to share my passion for the sport."