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F &Jetsam P EOP L E | INDU S T R Y | SAF E T Y | VH F lotsam PEOPLE BY BRYAN SMITH Up and Coming PAUL KUTHE IS ONE OF THE BEST YOUNG PADDLERS ANYWHERE


WHEN 25-YEAR-OLD Portland, Ore- gon–based paddler Paul Kuthe enrolled in his first BCU sea kayak coaching course in 2006, he didn’t realize it would be the beginning of a whole new discipline in his favourite sport. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri,


Kuthe first wet his paddle at the age of five. Sitting fore of his father in a tandem canoe he honed his skills with a single blade before he graduated to a Perception Dancer whitewater kayak at age 10. He, his father and uncle all learned at the same time, so kayaking was a family outing. Over the next decade he turned a childhood passion into a lifestyle. Paul’s path to becoming a world-class pad-


dler and coach had a few bumps along the way, however. Most notably when his father suffered a deadly heart attack on the river. Kuthe witnessed the event but it didn’t turn him off paddling. “It was traumatic, but I learned a lot from


10 ADVENTURE KAYAK | SUMMER/FALL 2009


that experience,” he says. “I knew that kayak- ing had not caused his death. It was just an- other thing that brought us that much closer together in his last few years of life. So I never had any doubts about continuing to pursue the sport. It made it all too clear to me that life is too short and we should spend our years wisely, really doing all we can to enjoy every day, as it may be our last.” Paul continued paddling with the support


of his uncle, John Kuthe. Ten, at 19, he dislo- cated his shoulder playboating and questioned if he should keep pushing himself in the sport. Depressed during the recovery, he needed to break out of that “almost better” plateau. He figured a great way to do this was to get on the water daily, so he picked up sea kayaking. Paul’s Dancer has since morphed into a


British-built Tiderace Xcite, and his two- piece aluminum paddle into a carbon and fibreglass Werner.


Working his way to full strength, he took


his ACA whitewater certification and per- fected his technique. Trowing himself into it fully, he decided he should take every stroke to its highest level. He had found a deeper con- nection to the sport and a new lifestyle. He started teaching and never looked back. Today Paul is a full-time kayaking coach,


filmmaker and photographer. He is pleased to have paddling as a lifestyle, a job and a hobby. Next up, he says, “I hope to go on some


more tidal race and surfing expeditions, where instead of racing around a rock or slogging through as fast as possible, we take our time to enjoy a place, meet the locals and spend time helping to improve their lives in some way.” Te challenges in his life have made Paul


one of the more humble paddlers out there. His talent and positive attitude have made him one to watch as a driving force for the future of sea kayaking.


NEWS FROM THE PADDLING WORLD


PHOTO: BRYAN SMITH


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