Man-powered versus electric motors; tournament anglers have weighed-in and it isn’t pretty.
There has been a recent surge in social media threads lately concerning electric motors aboard kayaks, and anglers have been going at it like never before. The community of kayak anglers in the U.S. has long prided itself as a group of people that are friendly towards one another, very helpful with information and prideful in the low-impact way they utilize natural resources.
Kayak tournaments are often held in meet and greet settings, with entertainment and food, and have been growing in numbers of participants along with prize winnings; culminating in the record setting payouts at the 2015 KBF National Championship which concluded recently.
Companies like Torqeedo, which happens to be a headlining sponsor for the 2016 KBF National Championship, and their development of an ultralight electric motor and kit for installation, have been at the center of the recent debate.
Kayakers are proud to say they are man-powered, whether they are paddling or pedaling, they feel a real sense of accomplishment when they target certain species and succeed without the aid of a gas or electric motor. There was a similar debate when pedal-style kayaks came upon the tournament scene, but that ruckus wasn’t as divisive as this latest item of contention. The kayak community came to the conclusion that whether an angler was paddling or pedaling they were under man-powered propulsion, so they were accepted country-wide in tournaments.
The same cannot yet be said for these new electric motors being accepted among participants. At this point there have been some exceptions made for disabled persons or wounded veterans at certain tournaments, but the 2013 KBF Open was the first to allow them on a wide scale.
The talk of the motors becoming the norm for future competitions has sparked fierce debate online, and the divide is obvious. I contacted Chad Hoover recently, and according to him, the motors will be allowed in the all future KBF OPENS and the 2016 KBF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
Those in favor of allowing them on a wide scale basically say there really isn’t an advantage, while those opposed seem shocked at the idea. While there doesn’t seem to be any denying the use of an electric motor is not man-powered, the dispute may well be solved in one largely accepted idea: separate divisions for those using motors and those who do not. But even this has its pitfalls. Old-school kayak anglers worry this could be the gateway issue that would ultimately have boats with gas motors and kayaks in the same events. It should be noted however that this has already happened at small circuits throughout the country anyway.
At this point it seems tournament anglers are going to have to decide if they want to participate in tournaments where electric motors are allowed, whether across the board or in separate divisions. It seems the cat has leapt from the bag.