Home: Scotland, Earth
Childhood home: Edinburgh, Scotland
Profession: Good question! Paddle and kayak designer, I guess
Height: 6’ 1.5”
Weight: 87 kg (190 pounds) in the summer, 93 kg (205 pounds) in the winter
Philosophy of Life: Be nice!
I was a professional youth programme football player and a national gymnastic youth. I then took up paddling and have been on a trip since then. I love the planet, enjoy seeing it, paddling all over the world, and want to help look after it. I grew up in Edinburgh and left school to pursue my passion for kayaking and paddle sports. I began designing my own boats and paddles, and my reputation as a sports designer spread. I spent four years shaping windsurfers, kayaks, and boats for Lightwave in Cornwall and went on to design the complete range of Lendal paddles. At the same time, I was competing in the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, etc. At one point, I became a raft guide and guided all over the world. Then I started setting up paddle competitions from Chile to Zimbabwe, and helped set up what was to become one of the most successful rafting operations in Europe: Feel Free. I am a European kayak slalom champion who won numerous medals in world competitions.
My favourite river quote was from a buddy of mine above a huge gnarly waterfall in Chile many years ago when my back could take it. He said; ‘Neil, if it makes you feel any better about this drop I just wanted you to know that I’m not doing it but I told the film crew that you are. Have a good one!’
At school on the first day I beat my instructor back across the lake to lunch and kept going.
Skiing, snowboarding, surfing, windsurfing, climbing big lumps of earth, salmon/trout fishing and anything to do with bicycles and motorbikes.
Jobs other than kayaker:
carpenter, shaper, ski bum
Personal biggest event/expedition:
My biggest event was winning the World Champ Surf. My biggest expedition has to be a near suicidal trip in Afghanistan before I knew better.
Freshly caught fish on the braai
Lendal, Double Dutch, Think Kayaks
I am not scared of sharks but I am terrified of bears!
Favorite Favorite Trips:
Grand Canyon and a surf up in Thurso with my buddies
Turkey, I will never go back
Favorite person to paddle with:
My girl Ariel. Oh, and Jock Young
Craziest kayak moment:
Too many to list, can’t choose
Scariest kayak moment:
Being pulled over by the PKK in Turkey
Your dream trip:
A cabin on a ski mountain in the woods by a big river next to the ocean. I also secretly want to climb Everest.
Big plans for the next 6 months:
2 Grand Canyon trips this Autumn and 1 sea trip out west (Scotland!) with a bunch of crazy lads.