Team Jackson Kayak Expedition Kayakers Earn International Recognition

Team Jackson Kayak expedition kayakers Rafael Ortiz and Ben Stookesberry are being recognized on international stages next month.

Team Jackson Kayak expedition kayakers Rafael Ortiz and Ben Stookesberry are being recognized on international stages next month. Ortiz has been invited to be guest speaker at an adventure travel industry annual meeting in Scotland while Stookesberry will be inducted into the International Halls of Fame: Bicycling, Rowing, Canoeing, Kayaking at the Children’s Museum in Utica, New York.

At the invitation of the Mexican Tourism Board, native-born Ortiz will address a room of some 600 delegates from more than 50 countries at the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) annual Adventure Travel World Summit. As guest speaker during the Summit’s Closing Ceremonies dinner on Oct. 7, Ortiz will present a multimedia display of his kayaking adventures with an emphasis on the Mexican state of Chiapas. Ortiz’ presentation will spotlight the exciting and dramatic natural wonders found inland in a country known best as a beach destination.

This prestigious speaking honor follows a host of on-water achievements by the 22-year-old from Mexico City. While still in the junior ranks, Ortiz became the first Mexican of any age to compete in a World Freestyle Kayak Championships. Ortiz has since become best known for his exploits as an expedition kayaker, captured on film with Stookesberry’s Clear H2O Films team on the Hotel Charley series of films. Ortiz has been part of Stookesberry’s expedition teams notching first descents on some of the world’s most inaccessible and daunting rivers from Mexico to India, Pakistan, Brazil and beyond.

"Rafael speaking at the Summit is a great convergence of the ATTA's global network," noted ATTA President Shannon Stowell. "He's sponsored by ATTA member Jackson Kayak, his team is supported by ATTA sponsor Eddie Bauer/First Ascent, and he's done some amazing descents throughout Mexico, which is a longtime ATTA destination partner. This kind of cross-industry connectedness is just what the ATTA seeks to achieve with its members around the globe."

Later in the month, on Oct. 16, Stookesberry will be inducted into the International Halls of Fame: Bicycling, Rowing, Canoeing, Kayaking in Utica, New York. Stookeserry was nominated by Jackson Kayak founder and President Eric “EJ” Jackson, who was inducted into the Halls of Fame in 2006. "Ben Stookesberry is the most motivated, successful, and genuine expedition kayaker in a very long time,” Jackson told the Hall of Fame selection committee.

Stookesberry has been pushing the limits of kayaking seeking out new unexplored locations that push the boundaries of navigable water. “Kayaking is a one of a kind medium for experiencing some of the last untouched places on the planet,” Stookesberry said. In 2008, National Geographic Adventure magazine recognized the achievements of Stookesberry and Clear H2O Films partner Jesse Coombs by naming them Adventurers of the Year.

“At Jackson Kayak we choose team members for their skill but also for their integrity, passion and dedication to the sport. Rafa and Ben are leading examples of this ethic and I speak for our entire team in applauding them,” said Jackson.


Founded in 2003, Jackson Kayak is the leading manufacturer of whitewater kayaks in the world. Family owned and operated, the company is dedicated to building world-class kayaks for whitewater, flatwater, freshwater and saltwater environments for paddlers of all skill levels and river interests. For more information about the company’s athletes and products visit the Jackson Kayak website.


Established in 1990, the Seattle-based Adventure Travel Trade Association is a global membership organization dedicated to unifying, networking, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market. Association members include tour operators, destination marketing organizations, tourism boards, specialty travel agents, guides, accommodations, media and service providers. Host of the annual Adventure Travel World Summit executive trade conferences, the Adventure Travel Trade Association also makes possible www.Adventure.Travel, the traveler’s hub of physical, cultural and nature-based adventure travel and guide to trusted tour operators from around the globe.


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