Takoma Park, MD – The World River Centre, on behalf of its hallmark program, the International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHoF) has announced members of its Class of 2023. Six honorees join an amazing group of whitewater pioneers, explorers, champions, and advocates, joining 55 previously inducted leaders and legends.
“We are thrilled to honor individuals whose whitewater-related accomplishments outshine most others,” says World River Centre President Risa Shimoda. “They deserve this special recognition, and we are looking forward to celebrate them and their impressive accomplishments at The Paddle Sports Show in Strasbourg, France 28 September.”
Meet the International Whitewater Hall of Fame Class of 2023
Pioneer: Bryce Whitmore (USA)
Born in 1926, Bruce was a force in Western US kayaking and rafting in the Western Coast of the United States and an influence in the community and industry that influenced many beyond. He pioneered paddling practices and built the first fiberglass kayak in the Western US in 1956; completed first descents of many rivers in California from 1956 to 1965; claim a place as National Slalom Champion from 1960 to 1962; claimed to be the first commercial rafting outfitter on the West Coast of the US in 1960–1986, including offering weeklong trips on the Rogue River from 1973 to 1986. He created the first self-bailing rafts, called “Huck Finns” in 1968.
Explorer: Mike Jones (Great Britain)
Mike was one of the world’s top expedition kayakers of his generation, most famous for his 1976 “Canoeing down Everest” descent of the Dudh Kosi. Mike’s expeditions introduced many people to the exciting world of whitewater paddling and inspired many to take up the sport. At age 17, after participating as the youngest member of a small British team making a “first attempt” descent of the Inn Gorges in the Alps, Jones decided to make the first descent of the Dudh Kosi, whose source is close to Mount Everest and which falls at approximately 280 feet per mile (53 m/km). Jones organized a team, despite financial challenges due to his “risky and crazy” project, drove to Nepal and trekked to the river for its first descent launching at a record 17,500 feet (5,300 m) above sea level. The film, “Dudh Kosi – Relentless River of Everest” produced by Leo Dickinson, recorded the expedition with some wildly exciting and memorable footage. Mike died, tragically, two years later trying to rescue a friend on the Braldu River in the Karakorum Mountains, at the age of 25. He was and remains truly inspirational today.
Champion: Manfred Vogt (Germany)
In the opinion of slalom competitors who are aware of the skills of early competitors, Manfred is one of the best slalom and whitewater kayakers to ever exist. He was dominant as a canoe slalom racer in the 1950s and 1960s, when everyone paddled folding boats. In addition, Manfred developed slalom paddling techniques that helped advance the abilities of all racers at the time. He was the first who started undercutting the gates in Slalom and used special sweep and Duffek-like strokes for the kayak to be faster in the gates and to reduce distances between the gates. In the old times, the paddler always made wide turns around the gates: Manfred’s new technique made it possible for them to finish with much faster times. Slalom kayakers from all over the world have learned Manfred Vogt’s and Milo Duffek’s slalom technique. Without them this sport would certainly not be what it is today.
Champion: Jamie McEwan (USA)
As a member of the US Whitewater Slalom Team and National C1 Champion in 1972 and 1975, Jamie’s Olympic Bronze Medal in Augsburg at the 1972 Olympic Games inspired many US whitewater champions. From his success, they saw their own potential in his commitment and grit. He brought home overall C2 wins from the 1987 World Championships, 1988 and 1989 World Cups, and his comeback in 1992 at the Olympics in La Seu d’Urgell with C2 partner Lecky Haller was remarkable, finishing just out of the medals in 4th place. He continued to race on his own for many years as an inspiration to his local paddling club and with his son, Devin.
Advocate: Isamu Tatsuno (Japan)
In 1975 at the age of 28 Isamu Tatsuno’s enthusiasm for canoeing and kayaking led him to be the first to bring polyethylene kayaks to Japan with the import of Perception kayaks in 1985 and his company, Montbell, became one of the largest retailers of whitewater kayaks in the world. Montbell currently has approximately 130 outdoor retail stores throughout Japan, 50 of which include kayaks for whitewater, touring and recreation as well as canoes, inflatable and folding kayaks and canoes. With some stores located in many of the busiest train stations in Japan initially, the exposure of the sport of kayaking to the public can be counted in the millions. Today, some of Montbell stores are now freestanding locations, like the Montbell Outdoor Village in Nara. The new flagship store is the largest mono brand outdoor retail store in Japan, where customers can test paddle kayaks in the store.
Advocate: Pete Skinner (USA)
Pete Skinner was primarily responsible for bringing American Whitewater (AW) back from near-collapse and converting it from the publisher of an obscure whitewater booklet to the most influential organization representing safe recreational use of rivers in the United States. Rivers once ran only during spring rains and as the snow was melting in regions beyond the largest watersheds. By driving systemic change in how rivers are regulated, Pete and an inspired cohort whose work continues today with confidence through his smarts, verve and relentless optimism, created year-round paddling opportunities for millions now and for generations to come. Paddlers enjoy both creeks and spectacular canyons across the United States year-round according to predictable posted schedules, thanks to Pete and the doors he opened.
About the International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHOF)
The International Whitewater Hall of Fame is a program of the World River Centre, designed to recognize and celebrate significant contributions to Paddlesports and led by an international Board of Directors. Nominations are submitted through IWHOF Affiliates around the world and screened by an international panel. The IWHoF electorate casts votes in each category to determine the honorees. See past inductees and find more information at: iwhof.org