SQUIRTBOATING is a tiny subculture within the whitewater kayaking world. We squirtboaters paddle ultra low-volume kayaks (essentially like sitting inside a surfboard) which let you become “cubically liberated”–squirt boat pioneer Jimi Snyder’s description for having control over your ride not just on the surface, but underwater.
With squirt boats, there are lots of cool tricks you can do on the surface, but like getting barreled when you’re surfing, there’s a kind of ultimate thing when squirtboating, known as the “mystery move,” which is what these guys are doing.
Unlike getting barreled however, mystery moves are kind of a non-spectator sport. From the riverbank, you just see a paddler disappearing into a seam and coming up downstream somewhere. What you can’t see is how magical it feels to be fully tapping into the currents and power of a river–essentially woven into the river’s fabric for a brief few seconds. Thankfully, GoPros and a nice edit by Stephen Wright (who is the guy in the blue boat) give us a bit better perspective.
Location: New River Gorge, West Virginia, near Halls of Karma
Paddlers: Clay Wright and Stephen Wright
Boats: Murky Waters Slip designed by Jimi Snyder