Sea kayakerDerek Hutchinson

A high school teacher in Gateshead, England (he taught craft, design, and technology), Hutchinson attended a one-day sea kayaking class in the school’s swimming pool in 1963. He instantly fell in love. First developed by Eskimos for hunting, sport models of sea kayaks were pretty crude in the 60s, so Hutchinson started designing his own. He (as well as others) experimented with new materials for the boats, such as fiberglass, and different shapes to improve stability. After an aborted attempt, in 1976 Hutchinson and two friends were the first to cross the North Sea, a 100+ mile trek from England to Belgium, in kayaks Hutchinson designed. It took 31 hours, but “It took the kayak out of the toy-boat class and put it into the serious deep-sea craft category,” he said later. Hutchinson’s book The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking was first published in 1976, and is still considered the bible of the sport — the first introduction many get to sea kayaking. He continued to teach into his 70s, and died from cancer October 10 at his home in South Shields, England, at 79.

From This is True for 11 November 2012