Firstly, tell us a little about yourself…
I was born in the greatest city in the north of England/possibly the world: Leeds. I grew up just outside the city in a pretty suburban setting with my mum, dad and older sister. I was well into MTB and rode my bike everyday until one day aged 11, I said to my dad, I want to go kayaking… So, we went kayaking. Dad got involved too and we did the weekly pool session with West Yorkshire Canoe Club in Wakefield. I got into the slalom side and trained at Bradford and Bingley Canoe Club. Once I’d finished school I moved down to Nottingham to train full-time at Holme Pierrepont. I perused slalom and paddled white water a bit on the side until 2012, where afterwards I packed in the slalom, did a ski season in France and cracked on with the white water scene.
Where was your first paddle?
The River Ure – Sleningford Watermill, Ripon
…and where was your first descent?
I can’t remember, probably the Washburn.
What got you hooked on white water kayaking?
The freedom and the challenge.
Only early doors but what is the biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
There have been a few biggies but probably my second Sickline title. After I won the first time around a few people were giving me chat about getting lucky, so it was nice to show them!
What would be your ultimate achievement?
To make a living out of kayaking. It would be beauty to be able to devote 100% of my time to kayaking.
Can you describe the feeling of winning the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship?
It was a huge buzz! We got a big apartment with a super good crew, so there was a beauty atmosphere all week and when I won it just amped everyone up. It was mint to be able to share the experience with everyone!
Have you ever been scared and if not – what would it take?
I get scared on the river all the time, its all part of the fun!
Any advice for those starting extreme kayaking?
Get with a good crowd of competent boaters and get amongst it as much as you can!
Competition or river running – which gives the most satisfaction?
Winning a competition for sure! Nailing a rapid is sweet but nailing a rapid quicker than everybody else is super satisfying.
When preparing for an expedition to a far away place in challenging conditions – what are the qualities you look for in a fellow kayaker?
They have to be good mates, good paddlers, organized and quick at getting ready. Faff is the enemy!
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
I’m aiming to hit the Little White Race this year and spend more time in the States, improve on eighth place (from 2014) at the North Fork Race and another Sickline title.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully still getting at it and living the dream – possibly with a family.
Besides kayaking, what other sports do you pursue?
I still ride MTB and love to surf. I’ve been getting into SUP surfing – it’s epic!
Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what kept you motivated?
My old man is a great inspiration to me, he’s still super fit and trains pretty hard. I get a kick out of pushing myself physically and love competition so I find it easy to be motivated. I guess I just want to beat everyone – all the time.
I’m a paddler and looking for the perfect river, where would you recommend?
That depends on what kind of water your into, big volume? Steep? Gorge? Scenic? I’d probably say get yourself to Norway, there is so much good stuff, huge variety and compact!
What river would be on your bucket list?
I really want to get down the Zam – before the damn dam!
Who are your kayaking buddies?
That’s pretty dependant on where I am. Over in New Zealand this season I’ve been paddling a lot with the baby bird (Ryan Lucas). I’ve also spent a lot of time paddling with David Bain and Jenny Chrimes. My next mission is to Croatia with David, Barney Prees and Oscar McBurney.
Where would you like to see extreme racing go in the future?
I’d love to see the sport keep growing the way it is. The events are getting bigger, the rivers we race are getting bigger, the participation is getting bigger and the attention it attracts is getting bigger. There is nothing better than watching a load of beauty boaters battle it out on some burly white water with a DJ cracking out tunes from a Redbull truck on the bank. It’s sick to see big name brands like Redbull, GoPro and adidas getting involved and I’m excited to see how big it can go with the right backing. There is definitely scope to go huge with it, there are rivers over in New Zealand that could easily host races that would be an absolute spectacle!
If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
It would be a right laugh taking Keith Lemon down a river. He’s well funny and I reckon it would be easy to scare the shit out of him!
Which one sports personality has inspired you?
Pick two celebrities to be your parents
Travis Pastrana and Holly Willoughby
Favourite iPod track?
That’s a tricky one… my iPod is pretty diverse. It’s totally mood dependent but Cornerstone by the Arctic Monkeys never gets skipped.
Cats or dogs?
Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. Twitter is terrible. I don’t really care what people have to say, I just like looking at pictures which Twitter seems to lack.
An ideal night out for you is?
All the boys round mine, heaps of drinking, stupid fancy dress, wander into town to rage in a dirty club.
What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?
If a fully stocked, fully staffed five-star luxury hotel counted as one item, then that. If not, a helicopter with enough fuel to fly to the closest civilization. If not, a torch or Holly Willoughby.
What do you get really angry about?
People being amazed that I don’t like tea. I don’t like tea… get over it! Also tea.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Probably the best curry of your life.
Any broken bones?
Fractured skull. Back.
If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why?
Hum… that’s deep. I’d go for the aqua man breath under water thing so I could huck the biggest dirtiest rapid of all time and not worry about it.
Favourite sport’s team?
Im not really into team sports, too many of them involve chasing balls. I’ll watch international rugby when it’s on but I follow the downhill world cup and a lot of action sports.
What’s the most boring question you are often asked?
If I would like a cup of tea…
Fill in the blanks:
I am – fired up for 2015!
Any final shout outs?
I’d like to say a big thanks everyone who supports me. The guys at PeakUK for making the best kayaking gear in the bizz, Lettmann for making the best boats and paddles in the game and obviously my mum! Plus you guys for being interested! Keep your eyes on my Instagram – joe.morley and my athlete page on Facebook for the latest on what’s going down!