Interview – Gerd Serrasolses on the 2nd SBP in Kerala (India)
The Serrasolses brothers strike again with the second tour stop of their itinerant Kayak School, dubbed as the Serrasolses Brothers Program – SBP*. This time, the program benefited local kids from Kerala, a state in South India on the Malabar Coast. After a full week celebrating learning opportunities for all as well as river conservation and the health benefits of spending time outdoors, we caught up with Gerd on his way back home.
This was a slightly shorter version of the SBP. How long was the course and what aspects did you manage to cover?
The Program was five days (Monday to Friday) and we spent an average of 8 to 10 hours on the water everyday. Being based so close to the river allowed us to kayak a lot during every session and get the most of it. We also had plenty of time to practice some basic safety and rope rescue skills as well as some theory classes such as ‘Whitewater basics’ where kids learned about river features, river signals, river conservation, etc.
Indian paddlers seemed as stoked to participate as the kids from the first edition in Chile. What do this young guns have in common?
The kids from Kerala were super happy to be in the water everyday no matter the weather. It was great to see how motivated and passionate about kayaking they were trying the different drills again and again often having to drag them out of the water to load up and head back. It’s a very gratifying experience to paddle with people like them, no matter where they are from; everything is new, everything is awesome and its all about discovering kayaking and have a good time.
You had to face poor weather conditions and high water flows during the program. How did the group reacted to this challenging setting?
The kids are totally used to the weather at this time of the year, its Monsoon season. Because of the rains water levels would change daily and sometimes we had to change plans and adapt to what we had, but that also gave us the opportunity to paddle many sections at different flows: super high water, low water… This made the river different every time we paddled giving us new eddies, new features, new exercises to do, new surfing waves… This is what’s awesome about kayaking, every time you paddle the river is different.
For those who haven’t paddle in India yet, what should they expect? Would you recommend it as a kayaking destination?
Kerala and the Malabar area is a great destination for whitewater kayaking. As said everything runs of rain so one day it might be too high, or too low or just perfect. You need to adjust and adapt to the weather the rain and choose your rivers accordingly but besides that its awesome. Fresh fruit and vegetables everywhere, really cheap, great food, beautiful jungle and extremely nice and polite people. I think its a great exotic destination to paddle in July and immerse yourself a bit in the Indian culture.
We suspect there is a dream team supporting SBP. Who made this edition possible?
First of all we want to thank Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera as this wouldn’t have happened without all their help and support since day one. Their team of guides and locals were also of extreme value when planning logistics, river sections, gear, etc. Thank you Sagar Gurung, Amit Magar, Hunter, Suman Tamang, Kumar Gaurav, Shibu… and so many more.
We also want to thank drink 1947 for supporting the Program, hf safety in an extreme world for the throwbags we used and gave to each of the participants and our media team Neil Dsouza and Praveen Jayakaran. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen you all know who you are!
From Chile to India.. there seems to be no geographic limits for you guys! Whats next in the SBP tour?
Luckily there’s great kayaking all over the world so we just want to help bring kayaking to those amazing locations where sometimes it’s hard for kids to get into kayaking because of their lack of economical resources, knowledge, infrastructure, isolation…
The next couple stops are shaping up in Ecuador and Costa Rica but will keep you posted on that! 😉
*Gerd and Aniol Serrasolses need little introduction. Born and raised in Bescanó, a little town on the north east of Catalunya, they got into kayaking pretty much by chance and from then on started their life journey searching for the gnarliest whitewater on the planet. During their professional career the Serrasolses brothers have paddled more than 300 rivers, established over 20 first descents, successfully accomplished many expeditions and both are proclaimed World Champions. Based on their own experience of hard work and success, they decide to embark on a project that uses sports as a tool for empowerment and social change. The Serrasolses Brothers Program is a traveling kayaking camp that benefits children with talent and motivation but little means to paddle. The initiative was born out of their desire to give back through an educational program that supports the sustainable development of the international whitewater community.