Continuing with our question series, brings us this time around to the wonderful Benny Clark. An amazing whitewater paddler, Aquabatics team member, and Hardcore Paddles Team member, currently in South America enjoying better paddling weather and warmer water then well ever see here in winter. He has done some impressive whitewater, in places that are just as awe inspiring. He’s a big fan of his Dagger Phantom and puts his boats through the wringer with over 200plus days of paddling last year. I could go on, but without further ado here’s some questions with Benny Clark.
Who the heck are yeah?
Well I don't know, I think I’m Benny Clark. but here it goes; it all depends on who you ask and in what circumstances. I have been a lot of people with a lot of names through out the kayak community and in life. Anywhere from an a****** all the way to Crazy Ben. But if you ask me, I would say I am driven, I learned hard and fast. I am very calculated with the whitewater and with life. When I sink my teeth into something I am not satisfied until I succeed. I love to get people on the river and see people smiling. most that know me know I have spent along time in pain. All that I want to see in this life is the shit eating grin on the faces of people on and off the river. If you ask me, I am a person that is tired of people suffering and fighting alone as I did for so long and who I am wants change.
Heading into the first canyon, Prattle Creek. 1st D From last year with Brandon Willms, Bryce Shaw and Tim Shaw, Between High walls Film by Danny Gariepy.
Where yeah from?
Born and raised Calgary Alberta, spent most of my life in the Rockies
When did you start kayaking?
May 2005, I believe.
Why do you paddle a kayak when there’s so many other ways to get on the water?
I have pushed the sticks on the big ditch and river boarded the middle kicking horse as well as did some cave diving. Kayaking is the only sport that I have found ultimate peace with my voices and mental illness. Kayaking I can do so many runs solo and so many runs with people. I have no problems with anyone finding the river in any way that helps them in a positive way but for me hucking waterfalls and running rapids in a kayak is my ultimate peace. Every pillow whether its at the bottom of a drop or a big hole feels like the safety of my mothers arms when I was a child.
Do you remember what your first kayak was? colour?
Blue Dagger Mamba 7.5 and a Pyranha 420 red. both bought the same time.
If you could build the perfect whitewater kayak what would it look like?
It would have lots of rocker and not much edge, I'm getting old but I love big drops
Where’s your favorite place to kayak, well one your comfortable sharing with the world anyway?
Cataract Creek Alberta especially with High flows 18-23cms
Do you enjoy kayak competitions? Why?
Absolutely, although I hate competing when there is gates cause I don't like being told where I have to go. however, the comps like festivals bring lots of lots of people together and I believe in kayaking comps, people are not that competitive against each other but more just themselves. no one really cares if they are first or last. Mostly people just want to push themselves. 1 of my fav things is to watch are the beginning and intermediates races. Lots of good carnage and a lot of Big smiles.
Callaghan Creek, Whistler, BC one of the best 4+(5) runs EVER!!!(pre ODB shift) hahahaha Whistler gotta love em.
Creeking, playboating, or river running?
Creeking (juicy flows for sure) and Big water in my Phantom. I also Playboat but I don’t think it’s called that cause its in my creek boat lol.
How are you pushing yourself on the water?
I am always pushing myself every time I get in my boat, whether its booting into big holes or working on scary ferries. I paddle 200+ days a year and have time to push everything I have learnt.
Any tricks or runs your currently trying to dial in?
Working on one trick right now but no one will see it till Breaking Free Premiers. And I believe we can dial in a run but because of flows and change I don’t think we ever have a run we can fully dial in. I have over 300 laps on Cataract Creek and she still surprises me ever year with a good ass kicking
"Johnston Canyon, dont know what its called but I was trying something I should not have been trying LOL"
Do you do any type of winter training?
Winters are spent kayaking for me. past 3 winters I have been on the left coast in a suffer fest of cold ass boating. this winter I am in Ecuador till march enjoying the jungle.
What’s your dream run?
The past 5 years of boating I have had to rewrite my Bucket list 4 times. I have a solo list and a list to do with others. next year I am dreaming about 2 runs. both on the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. 1 with a crew and another solo
What’s the best advice you would give to someone brand new to whitewater kayaking?
The river is an amazing place, always respect the river and respect others that are on the river. no matter what level you get to or are pushing for get the right safety training. don't ever let anyone decide for you if you can or can't run something but always make conscious choices with in the group you are boating with. Some people are comfortable helping you push but some are not. the river will always be there but the choices you make can also push others from the river. some are not comfortable being there for a carnage reel.
what I would change about kayaking?
The jr high clique stuff, whistler bull.
If you were reincarnated as a flower, what would it be and why?
Rothschilds Slipper Orchid
"Me and Thad Mazur having to much fun on the #41riversin41days"
Is there anything I missed you wanted to add?
Find your Passion and live it
LOOK at these pictures, wow!! Big thanks again to Benny for taking the time to answer some questions and for shooting use some pictures. If your interested in following him on the Facebook, he goes under the guise of The League of Beautiful Minds, and its well worth a follow.
Words By Andy W. Questions and Pictures from Benny Clark.