Asheville, NC - Kayaking is no new thing, in fact 13 million people take to the sport annually. But would you do it face first? On whitewater? Now you can, thanks to innovative paddle sport company, Bellyak. Having designed and produced three models of the lay-on-top kayaks - or bellyaks - without the restrictions of straps, skirts or paddles, the Asheville, NC based brand has become the first to open up rivers for prone paddlers.
“I had the idea for Bellyak when I was paddling a flooded creek in front of my house, laying on top of one of my own kayaks,” noted Adam Masters, lifelong whitewater kayaker and the man who founded Bellyak in 2012. “At the time I was just chasing fun, not knowing I was on the brink of creating a new sport.”
Bellyak’s first boat - the Play 35 - is modeled after classic freestyle kayaks and offers all the same maneuverability. Agile and responsive, the Play 35 features a low volume stern and high performance hull, making it ideal to take down the river or play in the surf. Weighing only 25lb, it’s also perfect for paddling workouts on the lake, fun with kids, and transporting to your favorite spot.
The Play 45 is the most versatile of the three models, offering super stability to a wide weight range of every ability paddler. Acting as a high performance interface between rider and water, the extra size and volume of the Play 45 makes it a great boat for running steeper and/or bigger water.
For flatwater fans, the Frequency is sized for the whole family and built for years of fun. Featuring a drop down/flip up skeg, the Frequency is easy to handle and ideal for exploring shorelines or playing in easy surf. The boat also boasts integrated toe braces for better body contact and a watertight hatch for necessities.
(From L-R)The Play 35, Play 45 and Frequency bellyaks
“We have a bellyak to fit everyone,” said Masters. “Our ‘lie on top” design allows people of all abilities to experience the thrill of paddlesports, without fear of entrapment or a long learning curve. We can teach people how to roll the bellyak in the first half hour of instruction, thereby focusing on the nuances of the experience versus overcoming the fear of flipping over.”
Already making a splash on the whitewater circuit - Masters has competed in races such as the Battle of the Broad and the Ocoee River Race on his Play 35 - the brand has also helped Prone River Paddling become an official discipline with the American Canoe Association. Since 2015, Masters has written the curriculum and trained over 25 instructors across the country. This, combined with Bellyak’s work with differently-abled and adaptive athletes, is aimed at expanding paddlesports to people of all abilities and the underserved. For bellyak, runs on whitewater will soon be achievable to all.
Bellyaks are currently sold online at bellyak.com or select speciality retailers in North America and Europe. For more information, or to find rental locations and events near you, visit: http://www.bellyak.com/try-one/
Designed and created by Adam Masters - second generation kayaker builder - the brand opened its doors in 2012. Growing from just one model to three plus accessories, bellyak aims to open the world of paddlesports to a much larger segment of the population, one prone run at a time. Today, bellyaks are used by everyone from whitewater paddlers, adaptive athletes of all ages, open water swimmers, swiftwater rescuers, summer camps, and beyond. Because real paddlers do it laying down. Join the prone paddling conversation @bellyak.