Rafa Ortiz chases Big Banana waterfall, episode 1

Extreme kayaker Rafa Ortiz takes on Big Banana Falls – where the only way out is going down.
© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
By Evan David

Veracruz is Mexico’s whitewater capital and a place Rafa Ortiz simply refers to as paradise. Episode 1 of Chasing Waterfalls looks back to 2010 and what happened when Rafa, one of the most aggressive kayakers around, set out to tackle the 40-metre Big Banana Falls in his home country, and at the time, set a new world record.

Big Banana presents an awesome challenge – even to a vertical water specialist like Rafa. “In Big Banana, you'll be falling at over 130–150 kilometres per hour,” he says. “So the impact with the water has to be the minimum possible.” Adding to the challenge is the fact that while most waterfalls are scouted from the sides, Big Banana flows out of a canyon – meaning Rafa will scout the waterfall while dangling from a tree.

Rafael Ortiz performs at Veracruz Big Banana Waterfalls during the Red Bull Chasing Waterfalls 2012 expedition in Veracruz, Mexico on November 15th, 2012
Rafa Ortiz in front of Big Banana Falls. © Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool

Chasing Waterfalls offers a unique insight into the life of the world-class paddler – and the bond he feels with his kayak and the river. “The kayak is practically your brother down there in the river,” he says. “Sometimes it’s your brother who gives you a beating.”

Check back on November 11 for part two of Chasing Waterfalls.

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