A Paddler- 20 Questions with Aquabatics Ambassador Liam McGowan

 This weeks 20 questions blog brings us Aquabatics ambassador Liam McGowan.  Liam is a passionate open boater or canoeist, depending what circle you run in I suppose. I've  met Liam in the shop a few times and have the pleasure of  paddling with him at the West Edmonton Mall Wavepool sessions last year, or shall i say bailing out my boat while watching him paddle.  He rips.   He can do things in a canoe that I couldn't do on the flattest water in the best of kayaks.   He's very vocal about his sport and were stoked to have him on the ambassador team this year.  To learn more about this fantastic individual, please see below.  AQOutdoors proudly presents, 20 questions with Liam. 

1. Who the heck are yeah?

Liam McGowan

2. Where yeah from?

Just west of Good ol’ hardy Edmonton

Liam in his element. 

3. When did you start paddling?

Early 2000’s I’d say, maybe ‘05-‘06?

4. What are you looking forward to this upcoming season as an Aquabatics Ambassador?

To help continue building community within our local scene and spreading our community outwards from our mountain rivers. Hopefully get some new paddlers and maybe even some experienced kayakers in a OC1/OC2! I think given the opportunity to get some local paddlers out of some Northern trips might change their opinion of the mighty open boat.

5. Why canoe when there’s so many other ways to get on the water?

Wait, there is another way to get down a river!?!

There is something about paddling canoe that seems more in touch with the river. In whitewater a simple line in a kayak can become such a fun feature in an open boat.

For tripping there is no better way I’m convinced to experience our beautiful back country.

We are on and ADVENTURE!!, Sarah and Liam having  a time!

6. Do you remember what your first canoe was? colour?

First canoe I owned was a serious freight liner. 18’6” ultralight Sea Clipper Kevlar (baby food yellow). Solid boat on lakes, not so good for river tripping though..

7. If you could build the perfect kayak what would it look like?

To start I’d remove the seat, install a throne of foam, knee pads, thigh straps, and cut that paddle in half. C1 all the way!

8. Where’s your favorite place to paddle, well one your comfortable sharing with the world anyway?

Hard to say, we have so many beautiful rivers. For whitewater I’d have to say the rivers near HWY 3 area / southern Alberta are always a treat.

For tripping, nothing beats any section of the Churchill, or Northern Manitoba.

Nice Walleye Liam!

9. What's the longest commute you’ve made for a weekend of paddling?

Easily 4-5 hours there and back. Although I always try to stay on the river longer than my commute.

10. Do you enjoy paddling competitions? Why?

Never done one, perhaps we need some open boat ones??

11. How are you pushing yourself on the water?

A solid crew of boaters has been the best. I’d say paddling more sneaky lines with some solid drops has been the new favorite. Sneaking across seams, lot more back ferrying through big water and of course demonstrating to entire kayak classes you can swing all of Jimbos with a smile!

12. What are your paddling strengths? Areas for improvement?

Besides a super solid attitude and my ability to sing people songs non-stop on the river. I’d say for whitewater is sneaky lines, and some solid wave blocking. For tripping I’d say running lines solid and dry.

Areas for improvement is offside side surfing, more consistent back surfing and tighter timing on boofing.

13. What would you say your worst bail was?

A gross swim on the Savager River in Costa Rica during flood. It’s a beer around a fire story!

14. What’s your dream run or trip?

I’d love to hit some more classic tripping rivers. Bloodvein, Seal, Coppermine, etc.. For whitewater I’d love a supported trip down the Colorado!

15. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen while paddling?

That’s hard to say, but defiantly would be the views you get when your down in some of those canyons, or remote in the north country.

16. What’s the best advice you would give to someone brand new to whitewater?

Start small, actually communicate with your paddling group of your concerns and limitations. Take courses and learn the technique. It’s amazing how the proper technique can stop you from having to strong arm your way through.

Say Cheese

17. If you could go paddling with anyone in the world past or present who would it be?

Besides paddling with my local crew. I think it would be amazing to have had the opportunity to paddle with Bill Mason during the time they were filming Path of the Paddle.

18. Is there anything you would change about sport?

Only wish it was more accessible to new boaters. Local clubs have done tons for kayaking, would love to see the same push for open boating.

19. If you had to pick your favorite Superhero?

Superhero is hard, but I always thought it would be cool to be “Rock ‘n Roll” from the original GI Joe series. We shared the same views about Cobra.

20. Is there anything I missed you wanted to add?

Just want to thank Aquabatics for the opportunity to be apart of the ambassador program. Here’s to a solid 2020 paddling season!


Big thanks to Liam for answering our questions. We look forward to this coming year and learning more about his adventures.  Keep it keel side down. 


Questons by Andy W. answered by Liam McGowan. 


Check out Liam on Social Media 

Facebook :@Liiam mcgowwan Insta @buddysawa