I don’t know what I would do without the water.

I was 11 years old when I first paddled a kayak into the warm and powerful waters of the Ottawa River.  It was on that day with my dad and my uncle that the trajectory of my life changed.  Once I experienced the power and thrill of moving water, everything else took a backseat.  Whitewater kayaking was, and still is, the most incredible sport in the world for me, and 16 years later I am fortunate to call it my profession.

I live in the whitewater mecca of Asheville, NC, and paddle the Green River Narrows and other world-class rivers throughout the fall, winter, and spring.  Asheville is the perfect home base.

Here’s a video of me paddling my home river:

Around May of every year, things heat up and the kayaking competition circuit starts.  I’m not sure what it is about competition that gets me so excited, but let’s just say the stoke-meter goes through the roof around that time in anticipation of another summer of traveling and competing.  

The 2011 Whitewater Grand Prix in Quebec- BIG WATER!

Photo Credit: Bryan Kirk

Alongside my kayaking pursuits, It has also been really fun dabbling in the sport of SUP.  Fortunately I am in good company with fellow Ambassadors Mike Tavares and Haley Mills, and I usually try to absorb as much knowledge from them as possible in the paddleboard realm.

My second SUP race at the USNWC in Charlotte.  I couldn’t complain about 2nd in the 12’6” class…

Photo Credit: Ashley Woodring

Ultimately, water is the one common thread through almost all of the happiest times in my life.  It is what gives me passion to work and play hard, and hopefully it will be something that I can forever return to.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sending a few updates from the road!

Good lines,

Chris Gragtmans 


About Chris Gragtmans: As a competitive whitewater kayaker, I have been fortunate to travel the world since I was 15 years old to compete, explore, and push myself and my sport.  There is no place that I am happier than immersed in a deep river gorge, working with the river to disseminate her intricate puzzles.  These days, I can also be found on my SUP board, downhill mountain bike, skis, or doing CrossFit and Krav Maga.  I want to be a student of Nature’s lessons every day for the rest of my life. 




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