When I first got into kayaking I was thrown by how young I was compared to everyone else. I am still a young pup compared to the average age of paddlers in WMCKA. Alex Pak is probably the closest to my age and attitude towards paddling that I’ve come across. But of course Alex is pretty phenomenal even for a kid…He might be 25?
That said age turned out to be pretty meaningless for my trips on Lake Superior. Through good fortune and WMCKA I was blessed into the acquaintance of Frits Kwant. He is one half of the team I call the Dirty Dutchmen. Maynard Flikkema being the other half. For a guy closer to seventy than sixty, (I believe) Frits is a tireless paddler, a steady and dependable friend, and someone you turn to for advice. Although he may claim through humility to being a novice, his persona commands no small portion of respect. I was quickly shaken out of my notion that being over forty meant you were slow on the uptake.
Frits has built 4 of his own boats, rolls really well, and surfs occassionally as well.
I am going with a far younger crowd to the Apostles, and I have that aching feeling of bad luck in my gut, and I can’t explain why. Except to say that everyone has their Nestor. Nestor was the elder statesman and general in the Iliad that eventually settled the conflict between Achilles and Agammemnon. Frits is our elder statesman that everyone turns to for advice, experience, and a bit of common sense. Frits, unlike Nestor though is never a bore. We all hope that Poseidon keeps us on course this time, despite his absence.
Thanks for the kind words and yes I’m 25. I’m at a point in my life where I am always “the kid” which is interesting to say the least. At work, my peers have children my age and the same goes with kayaking. Although the average age is a bit younger in playboating and I have met one or two people my age, paddling as a whole seems to be the pasttime of choice for the baby boomers. I definitely don’t take my “youth” for granted but I do sometimes regret starting kayaking as late as I did. I have the time and energy to become fairly good at sea kayaking but as far as whitewater playboating is concerned, I’m 10 years to late to be really good and I’ll have to be happy with just being ok at that particular sport.
I definitely can understand your admiration for Frits as we have a gentleman in our paddling club named Horst who is of that same mold. He has more energy and enthusiasm at 60 or 70 than I have at 25 and would probably be up for another paddle long after I passed out with exhaustion. I aspire to perhaps reach that level of mental and physical toughness someday.