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Corran Addison is a world renown kayaker, surfer, and now designer of Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP’s). The Deal had a chance to catch up with Corran after watching his new unprecedented film detailing a whitewater SUP adventure in Africa.

All photos courtesy of Corran SUP.

How did you get into paddling?

At the age of six my father took me kayaking for the fist time in South Africa. Back then in South Africa things were different – you couldn’t just buy a kayak – you had to design and build it from the ground up, so for me designing, building and paddling kayaks is one and the same thing. I fell in love with it from the very beginning.

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To water people, you’re known as an international river explorer. What do you feel are some of your raddest adventures over  the past 30 years? 

The Pororoca was certainly one of them [story linked here] simply because it was so unique. So was the exploration of the Zambezi below Victoria Falls back in the 1980’s (its run commercially now). My most memorable are the early days in South Africa as a teenager because it was so exploratory in nature – we had no clue about anything. While the rivers were not that hard, the adventures were amazing.

Of course I’m known more for some of the harder rapids and rivers I’ve run over the years, but most of these were not so much adventures and expeditions, as simple river runs on extreme rivers.

But I have paddled on every continent in the world – from Japan to Russia, Chile to Mexico, Corsica to Austria, all over Africa and N America.

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What was it like competing at the Olympic and World Champion level?

The single greatest moment of my life. Imagine this – in Spain, South Africa is Afrique du sud. We were the first country out into the stadium. I’m Addison – I was the first athlete. 80 000 people rose to their feet and cheered (not for me – but it felt like it). An amazing feeling after all that hard work. I was terribly ill during the event (and anti-doping rules make it almost impossible to get any kind of medication) so the actual event didn’t go that well for me, but I can’t complain.

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When did you design your first boat and what made you want to design boats?

I was 6 and my father wanted to go kayaking. Back then going kayaking meant designing and building the boat to do it with. We’d be covered from head to toe in resin and fiberglass (no masks or anything) making these boats. I’m sure my memory is off somewhat – I remember being actively part of the building process, though more likely I was handing paint brushes to people….

When did you make the move from kayaking to SUP’s and what made you want to shift your focus? 

I retired in 2002 from kayaking when I felt the sport was heading into a direction that no longer appealed to me and I lost interest in competing. I simply went kayaking again… at the same time because I wasn’t competing I started to surf more, and more, until one day I realized I wasn’t kayaking any more. When SUP came along in 2006 it was a natural thing for me to add the paddle to my surfing. The boards were also terribly cumbersome back then, and within a week I had two new designs – a 7’11” (back when the shortest boards were 9’6″ and a 4m (13′) displacement hulled race shape (back when all boards were surf shapes). Living away from the Hawaii and California “cliques” I wasn’t influenced by tradition – rather by need. So my boards were at an early stage a radical departure from the norm. Now of course all boards are like this.

Editor’s note- Check out  Corran’s SUP designs, boards and company here.

Corran

How did the IAFRICA film and project come about? 

As a mistake really. We never set out to make a film. We had these Drift Ghost camera’s (like a more versatile GoPro) and we wanted to go river “supping”. So we did. And the various cameras just got passed around to everyone that was there. A few days into the trip we realized that we were collecting the footage we needed to make something cool, and so we changed tactic and began to focus – make sure we got the shots we needed to tell a great story. Up to now there has been no real SUP adventure film made, and certainly not in rivers, so this was a unique opportunity to be first to do it.

Thanks Corran!

You can check out the film here