Kayaks were first developed by the Inuit people of Greenland, the Aleutian Islands and the Arctic Circle. Each area developed distinct styles that suited each region’s maritime climate and conditions, coastal terrain and available materials. The traditional Inuit kayaks were wooden framed with sealskin covers and were primarily used for transport and hunting. The designs of these kayaks were adapted by Europeans for recreational purposes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Initially, waterproofed cloth fabric replaced skin, before plastic and fibreglass shells were developed.
Kayaks are distinct from canoes in three ways: kayaks have covered decks, the occupants will sit with legs extended (rather than kneel) in the boat and the paddle has a blade on each end rather than a single, oar-like blade.
Kayaking as a popular water-based activity for recreationists and tourists includes several types, including river running, white-water kayaking and sea kayaking. Competitive kayaking styles include white-water, slalom and rodeo. Commercial freshwater and white-water kayaking tours are available as multi-day adventure tourism experiences in a number of countries including New Zealand, Nepal, Africa, Australia, Canada and the USA. Rivers such as the Nahanni (Canada) and Colorado (USA) have reached near-legendary proportions as international destinations for white-water and river kayakers, both guided and unguided. In New Zealand heli-kayaking is being developed as a commercial (and occasionally controversial) adventure tourism activity.
The Physic of Kayaking: http://kayakin.tripod.com
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