Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Expert" or "Lucky"?

How do you feel about the author, James Castrission, and his partner, Justin Jones, as a result of their having attempted and completed a crossing of the Tasman Sea? Do you view them as "expert" kayakers or were they just lucky that they weren't killed? Are they "heroes"? Do they deserve fame and adulation for their exploits? Did they deserve any "sponsorship" from the companies that gave them gear for the trip?

While there aren't a lot of people who attempt major crossings like this, there do seem to be an awful lot of paddlers who attempt very ambitious trips. In this day of social media, these trips get a lot of publicity through blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some paddlers may view this as a way to rocket to the top of the kayaking world. They can become instant "experts" with street cred as long as they survive and successfully complete the trip. They will get their names and faces plastered all over paddling magazines.

In my own neck of the woods, I have seen a fair amount of attempts being made to cross Lake Michigan. Some are well-planned trips made by skilled paddlers with a desire to test their personal limits. Unfortunately, many of them are just ill-conceived plans made by inexperienced paddlers who have visions of grandeur. Thankfully, their have been no deaths, as yet, only a couple of rescues.

I suppose I have given an indication of how I feel about many of these adventures. My favorite adventurer is Ed Gillet who crossed from California to Hawaii with no fanfare or sponsors, and didn't even write a book about his trip. Whatever the reasons for his trip, they were and mostly remain his own. Most kayakers are still unaware of his name and what he did.

However, I'm curious how other people view these kinds of exploits, speaking either specifically about the Tasman Sea crossing related in "Crossing the Ditch" or generally about any such attempts. Does glorifying these people encourage unprepared paddlers to take risks that they shouldn't in hopes of grabbing their 15 minutes of fame?


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