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An interview with… Bren Orton

Bren Orton

Before we start – just let our readers know a little about you, your family, background, etc.
My name is Bren Orton, I am 21 years old and from a little town called Warrington in England and I really like kayaking.

What got you hooked on WW kayaking?
I first tried kayaking on a school trip out of the city and into the Lake District. Ultimately I loved kayaking from those first few wobbly strokes on flat water but I think what got me hooked on white water was the constantly changing challenges and environment, the inner desire to progress to the next level and the friends I have made along the way.

Bren Orton

Hamma Hamma Falls. Photo: Craig Kleckner

Which do you prefer: taking part in competitions such as the Freestyle World Champs or big water expeditions and why?
I like competing but I can get pretty tired of waiting around for rides, going through opening ceremonies, etc… The type of kayaking I enjoy the most is with my friends either cruising down a river or surfing a glassy wave and working on new tricks. Preparing for big competitions such as the Freestyle Worlds is a hard task.

Talk us through your pre-event routine and how you get into the zone for a big event.
I mostly just go and hide away from everyone, Visualize my ride a few times, listen to music and then go send it. My strategy is to always go big or go home. I will either pull off my dream ride or crash and burn. It isn’t the smartest strategy for someone looking to be consistent in competitions but it is the only way that I enjoy competing.

Bren Orton

Photo: George Younger

Apart from extreme kayaking – are there any other areas of paddling you would like to explore?
I would love to try sea kayaking. I really like the idea of travelling by kayak and getting to places purely by man power.

When preparing for an expedition to a far away place in challenging conditions – what are the qualities you look for in a fellow team mate kayaker?
I like to travel with people that are easy going, motivated and incredibly optimistic. It makes such a difference when shit hits the fan. Humour is also really high up on that list, anyone that can crack a joke in amidst a bad situation is all right by me!

Many have seen the video of your swim at Hamma Hamma Falls on the Olympic Peninsula – is that as scary as it gets?
No, I find it way scarier when I am watching one of my friends take a beating.

If you could capture just one ‘feel good’ moment in your kayaking expeditions/competitions – which would it be and why?
The redemption lap on Hamma Hamma. I was so nervous at the top. To roll past that undercut wall that I had been pinned up against less than a week before, stick the line on the 60-footer and resurface to all the boys cheering was pretty magical. We also drove directly to silver falls that same afternoon and ran that as the sun was setting. Overall one of my favourite days on the water!

Bren Orton

Hurley Classic 2015. Photo: Peter Tranter

What one piece of advice would you give to a young paddler just starting out in WW?
I see a lot of kids chasing sponsorship and taking lame deals from companies just so they can inflate their egos a little. This is not what kayaking is about. Just enjoy it for what it is. Spend as much time on the water as you can, make some good friends and try to be creative. If you get good enough sponsors will come to you.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Have you seen the opening scene in Wolf of Wall Street where he is getting a blow job in a Ferrari? Just like that, except with a kayak on the roof. Just kidding… In 20 years I will be on some river, somewhere. It is a secret ambition of mine to be the old dude that rocks up to the wave in retro gear and just rips!

What do you do when not kayaking?
I watch videos of kayaking/work to earn more money to go kayaking.

I’m a paddler and looking for the perfect river, where would you recommend?
The Gauley, USA – the people’s river. If you combine the upper and lower, it is 30 miles of freestyle spots, slot moves, big volume rapids and tricks. By far one of my favourite rivers in the world.

What’s the one river you haven’t paddled that would be on your bucket list?
The Salween, sadly facing imminent destruction by a dam project, I am so fired up to get there and enjoy the ‘Fire starter’ wave before it’s too late!

Bren Orton

Photo: Mat Dumoulin


If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be? 
Charlie Beavers.

Pick two celebrities to be your parents…
Rhonda Rousey and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Can you imagine how badass their kid would be?

Are you a bathroom/shower singer and if so what do you sing?
I neither sing, nor shower (often).

Bren Orton

Photo: David Fusilli

Name one actor/actress you would love to get naughty with?
Emma Watson.

An ideal night out for you is?
Staying at home and reading a book.

What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?
My carbon Pyranha Jed, on the off chance that the desert island had good surf around it.

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
I don’t have a house!

What’s in your fridge right now?
Fridges are for rich people. In the Demshitz cooler we mostly have warm beer, hot sauce and an assortment of semi-rotten veggie burgers.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes. I still remember the day I saw the finished Pyranha Jed for the first time.

Bren Orton

Photo: Dennis Newton

What’s your favourite animal?
The Panda Dolphin (also known as the Killer Whale).

Favourite sport’s team?
Demshitz / Miami Dolphin’s cheerleaders.

Who are your kayaking buddies?
Demshitz, Rob Harris, Dougie Cooper, George Heyworth- Hill, Martin Koll, Kalob Grady, Paul Palmer, Kaelin Friedenson, The Irish boys, etc.

What’s the most boring question you are often asked?
“How much money do you make from kayaking?” “How do I get sponsored?”

Fill in the blanks: I am _____?

Any final shout outs?
Big thanks to all my friends, family and sponsors that help me to dirtbag it around the world and kayak in amazing places. Palm Equipment, Pyranha Kayaks, Werner Paddles, Shred Ready and Dewerstone.

Bren Orton

Many thanks Bren for all of your help on this and for taking time out of your busy schedule – we really appreciate it:)

About thepaddlerezine (655 Articles)
Editor of The Paddler magazine and Publisher of Stand Up Paddle Mag UK.

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