Four Time Greenland Sea Kayak Champion Maligiaq Padilla: “Hope floats, and rolls”

Alaska Dispatch – Padilla grew up in Sisimiut, a town on the edge of the Arctic Circle, just south of Disko Bay. He learned to subsistence hunt and sea kayak from his Vester Eyland relatives, for whom knowing how to right, or “roll” a capsized kayak is more survival skill than sport. They hunt in seas where the wind and waves batter kayaks like unruly children slapping at bathtub toys. Padilla’s great-grandfather was killed near Vester Eyland in 1929 when a harpooned seal yanked his kayak with enough force in rough water to snap his spine.

Though he still hunts for seals, fish and Auks (diving birds related to sea puffins), Padilla is better known outside the Sisimiut area for his prowess in world-class sea kayaking competitions. He’s the only person in history to win the Greenland National Kayaking Championships four times, beginning in 1998 at the age of 16, when he became the youngest Greenland kayak champion ever.

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