Exploration has long been a battle of risk and reward. While seeking the reward of first descent of Salto Saudades on the Rio Chapeco in Santa Catarina, Brazil, The North Face Adventure Grant 2015 recipient, Jordan Searle slipped into the quantum of risk.

After scouting the waterfall and selecting what he considered the safest line, Jordan Searle and his counterpart Barny Young, ran the falls together. After Barney narrowly missed the rock in the landing, Jordy followed – but was not so fortunate.

‘I collided with the rock, lost my paddle and blew off my spray deck. I had to put the deck back on and hand paddle through some big water rapids before my team could rescue and evac me.’

In an instant a white-water chaser is laid low, and expeditions are brought to a halt. And so, the first training update for this Adventure Grant winner comes with the news of a broken back. This being Jordan Searle’s first injury set-back in his paddling career that could have lasting effects, he is using his recovery time to build himself into a stronger and smarter paddler.

His advice for others in recovery – Jordan Searle says ‘Listen to the medical advice, apply what makes sense for you and then push as hard as your body lets you. No drinking, healthy food and plenty of legitimate rest.’

After weeks of walking his way back to more complete mobility, Jordan Searle sat back in his kayak for the first time at the end of February. He is back in the white-water where he belongs. Recently he has set up to explore in White Salmon, Washington, getting to know his kayak again.

He will be back in New Zealand late this year to execute his expedition plans supported by The North Face Adventure Grant. The exact location is under wraps until closer to the time of the expedition. And paddling season is not the only motive for his return.

‘I’ll be making my way back to New Zealand to support the All Blacks in the rugby World Cup, around mid to late October. This is prime paddling season for New Zealand, starting down in Queenstown and then a bunch of paddling around the West Coast.’

To be effective in his kayak Jordan needs to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. His typical week of training would usually involve three to five days of paddling, a run or two, a gym session or two if he’s in a city, and core exercises most days. He also stresses the importance of taking the time to cook good quality food. But it is always about balance. After a big paddling session, Jordan says his favourite comforts are ‘a BBQ, good yarns with friends, a hot shower if it’s available and maybe a rip of some good whisky.’

The most important aspect of white-water kayaking for Jordan Searle is his team.

‘I am lucky enough to have a phenomenal group of friends to share my experiences with on the river. When going down the river, we’re looking out for hazards, looking for clean lines and looking out for one another.’

The recent injury will not slow Jordan down, but help mold him into a wiser, stronger paddler.
The North Face Adventure Grant is presented by AG Outdoor. Jordan Searle’s expedition will be covered in their magazine upon completion.

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JORDAN SEARLE

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FEATURE PHOTO: ERIC MICKELSON