Ambassador Dulkara Martig chats with accomplished adventure racer, Nathan Fa’avae, about packrafts and their use in adventure racing. Check out Nathan’s book, “Adventurer at Heart,” on Amazon.com.
DM: What expedition races have you used packrafts in?
NF: The first time was eco challenge Fiji in 2002. I’d never heard of them prior to that, but was impressed with the concept. I bought a single and have used it a lot since. The next race I needed them for was the 2015 world champs in Brazil, we had a monster packraft stage in the pantanal, incredible place. I used them in the 2016 world champs, and Godzone 2018. I suspect they’ve been used in about 10 races now, including the past three world championships. My next race is Reunion Island.
DM: What do you think about the inclusion of packrafts in expedition racing?
NF: I think they offer a lot in making courses more interesting and remote, so I am excited about the potential. I just hope they don’t become a lazy option for some events to avoid getting kayaks. Packrafts in the right situation are awesome, but used in the wrong place they’re not fun.
DM: Any moments that stick out as particularly unique/memorable using packrafts in AR?
NF: The best packraft stage I’ve been in was in Pantanal because there was a lot of discussion and strategy about when to paddle and when best to walk. So, it had more relevance. Other races have just been straight paddles.
DM: Where do you see packrafts in the AR world in the next 5-10yrs?
NF: I think applied well, packrafts should be able to make courses more remote and more dynamic. Being able to access waterways away from roads and infrastructure is a huge appeal. Not every race will have the terrain for packrafts, but if the area is suitable, then it’s a big value add. Technology wise, I think getting the paddlers in the doubles into comfortable and powerful paddling positions will be a great advancement.
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