Kayaking can be a racing sport that uses kayaks, small, narrow boats propelled by a double-bladed paddle, but it is more commonly a recreational activity than a competitive one. Lately, kayaking is becoming more popular in Vietnam.
The kayak, literally translated as “hunter’s boat”, was created thousands of years ago by the Eskimos of the northern Arctic regions for hunting and fishing. Now kayak racing is a popular sport around the world.
A kayak is designed to closely fit the body size of 1 or 2 people. Compared to traditional kayaks, today’s kayaks are even smaller and sturdier. They can be classified by their design, the materials from which they are made, and their purpose.
Different designs have different advantages, in terms of speed, maneuverability, stability, and paddling style. Kayaks can be made of metal, fiberglass, wood, plastic, fabric, or inflatable materials like PVC or rubber.
Recently kayaks are being made of expensive but feather-light carbon fiber. Because of their range and adaptability, kayaks are useful for diving, fishing, wilderness exploration, and search and rescue operating.
We were at the wharf of Phung hamlet in Lam Binh district, Tuyen Quang province, to watch Vietnam’s second kayak racing competition. It took 30 minutes to paddle a canoe to the competition venue on Tuyen Quang hydropower plant reservoir.
The reservoir, famous for the Khuoi Nhi and Khuoi Sung waterfalls and Song Long cave, covers an area of more than 4,000ha. Spring, summer, and autumn are the best times to kayak there. The winter can be quite cold.
The kayak race drew 11 teams of professional and amateur kayakers, competing in two categories-men’s teams and mixed doubles.
18-year-old Dang Thi Ngan of Ham Yen district du lich quang binh, Tuyen Quang province, said, “I’m studying at the University of Physical Education and Sports and specializing in boat racing. I have practiced the sport for 4 years and participated in many competitions including at the national level. The highest award I got was a bronze medal. The national competition was held in Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Da Nang City.”