if I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems…
I always said I would do a Coke ad. That’s sort of my glib response to those unavoidable conversations about sponsorship. It’s always a hot topic amongst the paddling crowd. Thing is, in my blog I’ve talked a lot about the companies and gear I admire. None of them has asked me for or given me anything. But I don’t consider that a badge of honor either. It’s just the way it is. As my crazy writings have found an audience I’ve been quite aware that many of you are certainly interested in what stuff I or any crazy kayakers use. I know I’m the same way. I got my first Lendal paddle because I saw This Is The Sea. Man, everyone paddled Lendals. I knew that was the direction to go. For me anyway. Every magazine, video and book about people doing amazing things on the water seemed to always lead to Nigel Dennis Kayaks. I could only assume that if I got an NDK, then the rest was up to me because obviously the kayak was at least as nearly as they can be, the best. Nigel and Aled had created the perfect beast with the Romany. I felt the same way with Reed gear. It was night and day trading in my old clothing for Reeds. The fact that you look like hot “sh**t” in them is just a big bonus! I shouldn’t have been surprised by how great the are on the water. It’s what everyone was wearing on the big trips. See the thing is, how do we know what the heck we should be buying for ourselves without someone trying the stuff first and recommending them? Whether it’s a friend down the street, or someone in your club, a review in a magazine or sponsored paddler we look to others for advice. It’s a bit silly to pretend we don’t. I’m sure that’s why regionally you tend to see lots of the same kayaks. It would make an interesting study. Wisconsin is definitely Current Designs Country. In fact I know many of the paddlers & shops who influenced that. It’s really quite amazing to see the big rows of CD kayaks along a Lake Michigan beach.
Another sort of unfair view of sponsorship is that the paddler is somehow “bought out”. Yeah, right! As I’ve written before the reality is even the TOP “stars” of the sport are not rolling in cash from sponsorships. The truth is most of your big name companies in kayaking are actually small shops run by paddlers who needed better gear and made a go at it. Of course that’s not always true today, but it often is still the case. The point being they just don’t have the cash to send fat checks to paddlers. Sponsors rarely come looking for you. There is a process where by you write big long emails and make a multitude of phone calls seeking sponsorship. They of course want to know what the value of sending you free kit really is. They, like any good business are looking for ROI (return on investment). They want to know why they should attach their good name and image to your silly mug. Proper questions for sure. On the other hand sponsorship can be a good deal. Heck, you can pay a magazine $5000 or whatever for a full page ad in a single issue or give someone a kayak at your cost and if anyone pays attention they’ll sell your stuff for years.
So, I always said I would do a Coke ad. When it comes to paddling I will always paddle my NDKs, use my Lendals, and wear my Reeds. I’ll keep dreaming of having a Rockpool Underground and defend my Anas Acuta (the “Angel”) as a one of a kind boat and of course, my little princess. No one has to give me free gear to tell you that. I also know from the amount of email I get that people are curious why I chose this bit or that bit and I’m happy to talk about it as I often do. So I’m a bit of a freebee. And I’m cool with that too.
So when thinking about my trip I was not really too focused on sponsorship. As I told the owner of one company recently, “I’d love to have you sponsor my trip, but I’ve already got all your gear!” I was also determined when I announced this trip that I would max out my credit cards (hear that VISA??) before I would fold due to lack of sponsors. This is my gig, not a commercial endeavor. In fact the “Chasing The Ana” journey is not quite an expedition in the “South Georgia” way of looking at things. It’s really about learning what expeditioning is all about for the rest of us with all the curtains pulled back as it were. So as opposed to going to the companies I love and writing long diatribes about how I can market them, (Which of course depends so much on YOU!) I would however, send each of the companies who’s products I love an email offering to share the journey with them if the like. By now, they know a bit about me, they know that all you guys are here and they know I’ll use their stuff anyway. What a deal eh? But if they’d like to take part as a “sponsor” I’d love to have them. On the other hand they may think I’m a total weirdsmobile and not respond. Who knows??
Soon I will tell you more about Race Recon who is our first sponsor, but even more than that, our real partner on the journey. I can’t tell you how honored I am that they want to take part. But more than making me feel all warm and fuzzy, I’m also very excited by what we can do together to really bring you along on our trip. I so look forward to sharing the journey with you in a way I could have never imagined and that would have been utterly impossible without their support. We for our part will do everything in our power to show the big dogs why they need Race Recon on board. For just a sampling of that take a look at Crossing The Ditch. All our hopes go out to them as well.