Floating Your Own Boat

The recent surge in solo sports has put kayaking into the mainstream

Peter Dennen / Aurora

As the sport has caught on, new boat styles have been created that are sturdier, more comfortable and lighter in weight than their predecessors.

Plunk yourself down in a small plastic kayak with nothing but a paddle, and you might think you'll need Hulk-like strength to do anything more than bob gently downstream. But that's a myth that Anna Levesque, 33, is helping to debunk. A professional white-water kayaker and instructor based in Asheville, N.C., she says, "Kayaking isn't about strength; it's about finesse." And once you get the hang of it, "you get a real sense of accomplishment," she continues. "You are the master of your craft."

That could help explain why more landlubbers are picking up oars. Participation in the U.S. has doubled...

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