These kayak drops will make you hold your breath

This pure action clip from Chasing Niagara is what it takes to give us a little rush of adrenaline.
By Dom Granger

During his preparation for his attempt to drop down Niagara Falls, Mexican kayaker Rafa Ortiz knew there was only one way to get ready for such a feat – dropping as many big waterfalls as possible.

With his friend Rush Sturges and the rest of his crew, Ortiz chased as many waterfalls as he could find. But dropping falls like these are not a given, even if they Ortiz and friends make it look easy. It takes years and years of practice and experience to be able to make it down one of these bad boys safely. 

For Ortiz, it's just the result of a love story with kayaking that started the minute he got his first kayak. "It was June 20, and like any other June 20 it was the best day of the year for me – my birthday," recounts Ortiz. "I was sitting at home receiving all the phone calls from relatives and friends that you used to back before Facebook existed, when my family got back home. My sister burst into the house with a huge smile, it was her birthday too after all, but I knew she was up to something.

"My sister is this amazing character; she's as crazy as a goat and can convince my dad about anything. She is two years and three hours older than me, and thanks to that along with her thirst to try new stuff, and a 60% discount, I got my first kayak for a birthday present. Hours earlier, they'd actually gone to a sports store looking for a swim suit, and walked out with two shiny new kayaks. My dad knew kayaking is an individual sport and shouldn't be practiced alone. Hence the two kayaks.

"We spent every other weekend of our lives at my family's ranch in Veracruz. Rafting was an activity we would get into a couple times a year, but before June 20 I was more into skateboarding than rafting. So the day I got into that kayak, I was able to combine the new challenge of controlling this craft, nature, and the challenge of making it downriver, I was hooked and there was no way out."

If these drops made you want some more, then head to Red Bull TV to watch the whole Chasing Niagara movie for free until January 8, or to Vimeo on Demand to buy the movie.

MORE: Enjoy the playlist below, which was created with Chasing Niagara's producer Rush Sturges, who even composed some of the songs.

Rafael Ortiz
read more about
Next Story