Qajaq Journal Volume Four. Letter from the Editor


It's been a long while since the publication of the last issue of Qajaq Journal; many of you have noted the absence. It's always gratifying to hear from readers and to know that the Journal was missed. The reasons for this lapse are personal and various. Though I do get help and offers of help, producing Qajaq Journal is in large measure a solitary and entirely voluntary endeavor. I am responsible for soliciting articles, editing and designing this publication. My initial ambition, which was to release two issues a year, has proved unrealistic. Though there is interesting and available content maintaining a regular publication schedule has proved to be more than I can manage. As a result I'm moving the Journal to occasional status. Beginning with the current issue all subsequent volumes will be release as discreet numbers. I make this change with the expectation that I will be able to publish at least one issue a year.

As the cover suggests this issue is departure from previous Journal content. Unlike previous volumes the voice and preoccupations are European, not native. The context is one of recreation rather than survival. This is an instance where a native technology adopted by Europeans and Americans was turned to new ends. Canoeing (or kayaking) for sport began in the mid-nineteenth century and once appropriated the Canadian canoe and the Eskimo kayak were quickly transformed as early builders and paddlers sought to civilize what they perceived as a crank and tipsy craft. This redesign now allowed even unskilled paddlers to enjoy outings on lake rivers or lakes, while the more venturesome were soon publishing accounts of extended trips to exotic locations. This new sport quickly captured the public's imagination and paddling as a novel outdoor pursuit caught on. In Germany shortly after the turn of the century the faltboot or folding kayak appeared. A skin-on-frame kayak, it was designed to be taken apart. It could be folded into a backpack, carried on your back or moved about on a cart and, when not being used, stored in a closet. Cleverly marketed, kayaking soon grew in popularity spawning a huge club scene in Germany and Austria. Austrian paddler Edi Hans Pawlata found the commercial faltboot to be a large, clumsy and limited craft. Seeking to gain a better understanding, he explored the Inuit origins of the kayak and offered what he saw as a corrective; a technique for recovery from capsize, that as he espoused it, finally allowed paddlers to realize the true nature and full potential of the kayak. As English speaking paddlers we know the name, we know the roll and we more often than not credit him for being the first to do it, but we know next to nothing about the man. His important insight on the effectiveness of native kayak, technique and gear went in large measure unnoticed. It's my hope that this publication of this translation of Kipp Kipp Hurra! Im Reinrassigen Kajak will help to remedy that situation.

I would like to thank the board of Qajaq USA who approved the funding for these translations, as well as Roger MacGregor whose estimable talents were again pressed into service rendering the original German into English. A special thanks to Steven Van den Heuvel of Belgium who responded to a request from out of the blue and graciously helped me secure a copy of Pawlata's pamphlet in the original. Acknowledgments to Tony Ford, Vice President of the Historic Canoe and Kayak Association and editor of Paddles Past, for his assistance with this material. Martin Nissen for his friendship and continued patience, Dan Segal, Harvey Golden, Tom Milani, and Ben Fuller for their insights and comments on the text and Nelia Ponte for her assistance in getting it to press.

 

Yours,

Vernon Doucette