Sea Kayak Icon Derek Hutchinson Passes Away

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Hutchison died at home in his bed in his native England at age 79.

Known as “the father of modern sea kayaking,” Hutchinson had several notable expeditions under his skirt, including the first crossing of the North Sea in a kayak in 1970. He later went on to paddle in the Aleutian Islands and other areas around the globe.

But he was perhaps best known as an instructor and author. Hutchinson wrote the book on sea kayaking before the sport was even called that with his first addition in 1976 of “Sea Canoeing.” He went on to publish “The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking,” which is now in its fifth edition, as well as several books on rolling and expedition kayaking, as well as a variety of instructional and rescue videos and DVDs.

He was also an accomplished boat and accessory designer for sea kayaking.

“Many of the things we today take for granted, like bulkheads and sealing deck hatches, we can thank him for,” says longtime friend and fellow sea kayaker, instructor and author Wayne Horodowich. “There is no doubt that he made a huge impact during his life. He truly is the Father of Modern Day Sea Kayaking.”

Hutchinson, a frequent contributor to the UK’s University of Sea Kayaking, also designed kayaks and paddles, with his kayaks often having a lower back deck for easier rolling.

As the late Eric Soares, a member of California’s Tsunami Rangers, wrote:

“Derek is very knowledgeable and opinionated—I respect him for all he has contributed to sea kayaking. He has designed over a dozen sea kayaks, he has written several seminal sea kayaking books, he has made long distance trips and surfed and did seal launches and landings and paddled in ice and wind. He has developed innovative ways to rescue. And he was the first modern kayaker to accomplish these feats, now standards of modern sea kayaking. We have all benefited greatly from his contributions.”

Adds acquaintance Moulton Avery; “It’s a very sad day for the sea kayaking community around the world. He set the bar high and his life’s work was sharing that passion with others. His passing leaves a void that a thousand sea kayakers would be hard-pressed to fill.”

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