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Hooked on the Outdoors Real Deal Award Innova Helios 380EX Kayak Wins Readers Choice Award
From Sea Kayaker Magazine

Burlington, Washington – June 20, 2005
Innova Kayak is pleased to announce that our Helios 380EX kayak has been selected for a Readers Choice Award from Sea Kayaker magazine in the inflatable kayak category. The award was based on the results of a reader survey taken in February of this year. Readers were asked which products they liked the best in each of 18 categories. This is the first such award program Sea Kayaker has conducted, and thus the Readers Choice Awards are not limited to products in any particular model year. Sea Kayaker will present and discuss the winning products in their December 2005 issue.

This is the second citation this year for the Helios 380EX, having been selected as a 2005 paddling gear pick by Backpacker magazine.

The Innova Helios 380EX is a two-person kayak with an optional rudder. The Helios has been in service around the world, including adventure tours in Papua New Guinea and Lake Baikal, Peace Corps work in Mongolia and Samoa, and geological field work in Alaska. It comes in a drybag/backpack small enough to be an airline carryon.
Hooked on the Outdoors Real Deal Award Innova Seaker Kayak Wins Real Deal Award From
Hooked on the Outdoors Magazine

Burlington, Washington – June 7, 2005
Innova Kayak is pleased to announce that our Seaker inflatable sea kayak has been selected for a Real Deal Award from Hooked on the Outdoors magazine in the paddling category. “This inflatable kayak won over our skeptical testers with its high performance…Why didn’t anyone think of this before.” The Real Deal Award honors practical excellence in gear design. Testers considered “value, ease-of-use, durability, versatility, comfort, fit, reliability and performance.”

Hooked on the Outdoors will present the award during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City this August.

The 16-foot Seaker features high-pressure chambers, Kajak Sport deck hatches, a SmartTrack rudder, a standard spray skirt compatible cockpit, and a 15-minute setup time.

This is the second award for the Seaker, having earlier this year been selected as a
Paddler’s Pick from Paddler magazine.
Excerpts From the Print Edition of National Geographic Adventure Magazine
December 2002/January 2003 issue

Mungo Made Me Do It—Rafting to Timbuktu

Writer KIRA SALAK's aim was audacious: To paddle nearly 600 miles [966 kilometers] down the Niger River, a hazardous journey, inspired by legendary Scottish explorer Mungo Park, that no person had ever completed solo. She was slightly crazy, people thought; highly determined, she knew; and completely alone: in a little red boat,
en route to Timbuktu.

In the beginning, all my journeys feel at best ludicrous, at worst insane. This one is no exception. The idea is to paddle nearly 600 miles on the Niger River in a kayak, alone, from the town of Old Ségou to Timbuktu.

And now, at the very hour I have decided to leave, a thunderstorm bursts open the skies, sending down apocalyptic rain, washing away the ground beneath my feet. It is the rainy season in Mali, for which there can be no comparison in the world.

Lightning pierces trees, slices across houses. Thunder wracks the skies and pounds the Earth like mortar fire, and every living thing huddles in its tenuous shelter, expecting the world to end. Which it doesn't. At least not this time.

So we all give a collective sigh to the salvation from the passing storm as it rumbles east, and I survey the river I'm to depart on this morning. Rain or no rain, today is the day for the journey to begin.

"Let's do it," I say, leaving the shelter of an adobe hut. My guide from town, Modibo, points to the north, to further storms. He says he will pray for me. It's the best he can do. To his knowledge, no man has ever completed such a trip, though a few have tried. And certainly no woman has done such a thing.

Earlier this morning he took me aside and told me he thinks I'm crazy, which I understood as concern, and so I thanked him. He told me that the people of Old Ségou think I'm crazy, too, and that only uncanny good luck will keep me safe.

What he doesn't know is that the worst thing a person can do is to tell me I can't do something, because then I'll want to do it all the more. It may be a failing of mine.

I carry my inflatable kayak through the labyrinthine alleys of Old Ségou, past the huts melting in the rain, past the huddling goats and the smoke of cooking fires, past people peering out at me from dark entranceways.

Old Ségou must have looked much the same to Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who left here on the first of his two river journeys 206 years ago to the day. It is no coincidence that I've picked this date, July 22, and this spot to begin my journey.

Park is my guarantee of sorts. If he could travel down the Niger, then so can I. Of course, Park also died on the river, but so far I've managed to overlook that.

Thunder again. Hobbled donkeys cower under a new onslaught of rain, ears back, necks craned. Naked children dare one another to touch me, and I make it easy for them, stopping and holding out my arm. They stroke my white skin as if it were velvet, using only the pads of their fingers, then stare at their hands, looking for wet paint.

I stop on the banks of the river near a centuries-old kapok tree, under which I imagine Park once took shade. I open my bag, spread out my little red kayak, and start to pump it up. A photographer, who will check in on me from time to time in his motorized boat, feverishly snaps pictures.

A couple of women nearby, with colorful cloth wraps called pagnes tied tightly about their breasts, gaze at me as if to ask: Who are you, and what do you think you're doing?

The Niger, in a surly mood, churns and slaps the shore.

I don't pretend to know what I'm doing. Just one thing at a time now: kayak inflated, kayak loaded, paddles fitted together. Modibo watches me.

"I'll pray for you," he reminds me.

I balance my gear and get in. Finally, irrevocably, I paddle away.
Photograph by Rémi Bénali


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