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To paddle or not to paddle

Words by Madi @kulark


Wherever there is water, there is an indigenous watercraft. Mostly, this is in the form of a Canoe. Primitive yet elegantly constructed, ranging from 3m to over 30m in length, Canoes throughout history have been made from logs, animal skins and tree bark and were used for basic transportation, trade, and in some instances, for war.

The design of the original canoe varied, depending on its use and where it was built; it varied between open-topped bark canoes to a dug-out tree to 130ft war canoes. In contrast, kayaks were built to ensure icy Arctic water did not enter the boat. They were made by stretching animal skins over a wooden frame and could generally only carry one man at a time.

The Kayak originates from Greenland, where it was used by the Eskimos while the Canoe was used all over the world. The word Kayak meaning “man-boat” in Eskimo, was found predominately in the northern parts of the world, North America, Siberia and Greenland. They were ideal for individual transport and were used primarily for hunting and fishing. The Canoe, on the other hand, was utilized on a much wider scale. From the Native American tribes to the Polynesians, the canoe enjoyed a variety of scales and uses, primarily transport, trade and warfare. Physically the differences between the two boats are that kayaks are closed boats with a cockpit for sitting in. Athletes paddle from a sitting position with a double-blade paddle. Canoes are open boats paddled from a kneeling position with a single-blade paddle.

*Article from International Canoe Federation

Paddling in Malaysia is not a new thing. We have wide arrays of water bodies that draw many people to take pleasure in, whether for sporting activities or a relaxing dip. My first taste of paddling was back during my uni days. It was a kayak trip at Tasik Semberong in Kluang, Johor that got me hooked and the rest is history. Back then, access to kayak was limited and owning one seems impossible. Today, it’s a similar scene where only those who work within the outdoor field or apply under the uni recreational club are able to get hold of such craft and the gear needed. Others may need to rent from resorts or operators which add to the hassle. Alternatively, buying your own stuff will cost a fortune.

My hope is that Kayak Kaki would be able to provide exposure, education and support for paddling clubs around Malaysia to empower youth (anyone really) to start or continue their paddling journey. That’s why we are here. So throw all your doubts and worries and join us!

Jom paddle!

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