One of the most accomplished paddlers of our time, Spain’s Aniol Serrasolses fell in love with kayaking at a young age and has been drawn to the challenge of paddling rivers all over the world ever since. Recently joining Team Kokatat, he’s a multiple Rider of the Year winner, the 2016 adidas Sick Line World Champion, 2018 North Fork Champion and more. He’s also won numerous Waterfall Line of the Year crowns and holds the 24-hour distance world record of 287 miles. “Aniol continues to push the limits in our sport and is one of its great ambassadors,” says Kokatat’s Lisa Kincaid, adding Aniol joins his brother Gerd on the team. But perhaps more importantly, Serrasolses is giving back; In 2018, he founded SBP, a program that promotes river conservation and kayaking among youth. We caught up with him for his take on the pandemic, his new program, life on Chile’s Futaleufu and more.
A Quick Q&A with Spain’s Aniol Serrasolses
Paddling Life: What have you been up to during the pandemic?
Serrasolses: Building my house in Futaleufu has kept me very busy throughout the year. Before COVID my plan was to follow the racing circuit, join a few new expeditions, and try to nail some new tricks and first descents. I’ve done my best to take these weird times as an opportunity to finish my cabin and train harder than ever on the local runs here in Chile.
Paddling Life: Have you been paddling a lot still? Any new firsts?
Serrasolses: I try to paddle every day, sometimes twice depending on how busy I am with work. I live at the takeout of Bridge to Casa de Piedra, so it’s pretty easy to figure out logistics. I’m really stoked on a project we shot a couple months ago in La Araucania that should come up anytime soon. The first descent of the upper Puesco or the newly discovered Upper Claro have been great highlights of my year as well.
Paddling Life: Any plans for the summer?
Serrasolses: Fingers crossed that by summer the pandemic will be more mellow in the U.S. and we will be allowed to follow the racing circuit, see good friends and paddle the amazing rivers of the West Coast.
Paddling Life: Has COVID made you appreciate kayaking even more?
Serrasolses: More than just kayaking. COVID made me appreciate how easy we had it for many years…the carefree human contact, the joy of traveling, meeting new people and more. I really miss the days where COVID wasn’t the only conversation.
Paddling Life: Have you had to quarantine at all?
Serrasolses: I’ve been traveling quite a bit within South America, so yes I’ve had my fair amount of quarantines, PCR tests and all the craziness that comes with traveling these days. Tourism is struggling really hard right now. It’s hard to see any company surviving if these restrictions keep going for another year.
Paddling Life: Tell us about your new SBP program…how is that going? What are you hoping to accomplish with it?
Serrasolses: The fourth edition of the SB program was going to take place in Costa Rica in 2020 but for major issues with the global pandemic we had to postpone it. There’s a long list of whitewater communities which would love to benefit from such learning opportunities. Our program is ready and the will to help is there; ultimately, we depend on external support to make this initiative sustainable. In that sense the support from sponsors who really care about the sustainable development of the program is vital for the survival of the association.
PaddlingLife: How do you think paddlers in general are at handling the COVID crises?
Serrasolses: We are all extremely lucky to be able to go outside and disconnect from all the madness out there. The river is home, a quiet place where nothing has changed yet. The day they take that away from me it will become very hard to live a happy life.
PaddlingLife: How do you like paddling for Kokatat?
Serrasolses: It’s been great so far! Dry gear, stylish products and a badass team behind it. I can’t wait for an epic season together.