Pat Keller took 17 minutes and 22 seconds (for 6th place overall) in today’s Bud Light Lime Class II Down River Sprint, a kayak race down Gore Creek in Vail. He is a 23-year-old from Asheville, NC, and a burgeoning pro kayaker.
Gear Junkie: How did you get into kayaking?
Pat Keller: My parents were raft guides, that’s how they met. At the age of three I went on a big canoe trip and loved it. At age six, I got my first kayak.
Gear Junkie: You helped design the Dagger Green Boat, which is what you paddled today in the Down River Sprint.
Pat Keller: Yep, we shaped it from a big block of foam into what we wanted. That was in 2006. It’s named after the Green River in North Carolina. We took a lot of the best features of older boats like the Preception Dancer and added some new creek boat features. The result is a fast and responsive race river boat.
Gear Junkie: What is some of your other favorite gear in a race like the Down River Sprint?
Pat Keller: I love my Immersion Research dry top. The Werner 200cm straight shaft carbon and Kevlar paddle. It’s strong and light. The Astral Rescue Jacket for my pfd.
Gear Junkie: What’s it take to place high or win in a kayak sprint race?
Pat Keller: Just raw speed and endurance. You need to nail the good lines through the choppy water. Keep the boat from going up and down over every wave. Go fast and charge. The fastest and strongest paddler will win.