Determined to kayak till he… drops.
Before we start – just let our readers know a little about you, your family, background, etc.
I’m Gerd Serrasolses, 27, from Catalonia. I started kayaking when I was 13 or so and haven’t stopped since. When I turned 18 I embarked on my first big trip and spent the whole winter in Chile. I met a lot of kayakers and great friends that opened my eyes about life and the kayaking lifestyle and discovered creeking, I enjoyed it so much. After an amazing trip, I started an Industrial Design Engineering degree in Girona and that was the end of it. After four long years where I could only kayak during the weekends after driving a six-hour round trip to France and attend the freestyle circuit, I decided it was time to go back to what I loved most: creeking, travelling. I also started to get into racing which was totally new for me. Of course it took me a few years to get back in shape and get to the level I wanted to be, especially after three big injuries that kept me away from the water for a long time.The last few years have been the best of my life, travelling lots, kayaking full-time and living an awesome life with partner Ali, my brother Aniol and many other great friends – the kayaking community is so cool! Looking forward to the future and what’s to come!
What’s your boat and paddle of choice at the moment?
The Pyranha 9r both the standard and the large size. I’m really happy to be able to paddle such good boats, they make kayaking a lot more fun and easier too! My favourite paddle is the Galasport Manic MCQ; straight shaft, full carbon, super light, extremely durable and it feels so nice in the water providing powerful strokes. It’s so nice to have good gear you like and feel comfortable with.
Where and what was your first paddle and your first descent?
I was around 13 or so and doing competitive swimming and water polo but didn’t really like it that much… I’ve always ridden my bike everywhere and one day while I was biking along our local river, the Ter, I saw some people paddling around. I got curious and with some persuasion from my mum I decided to join the local kayak club: the Salt-Ter. It all started really slow with only a couple hours a week on a Saturday morning, but as soon as I could go to the river by myself riding my bike and pulling my playboat on a little trailer, I started to get obsessed about kayaking until it became my life.
What got you hooked on WW kayaking?
I think it was after a trip we did to Sort that I was totally hooked. It rained so hard that night that the river turned brown and to me it looked like the Zambezi. We paddled the easiest section and it was awesome, I was pretty scared but somehow managed to enjoy it and just wanted more.
The last 12 months for you have been incredible – so what’s been the biggest accomplishment in your career to date?
At the end of the season my biggest accomplishment is to have completed another year injury-free while still travelling, racing and running hard whitewater. After a few years being injured what makes me happier is to be able to get out day after day pushing myself and becoming a better paddler. It is always nice to win competitions, paddle first descents, etc but my biggest and proudest accomplishment is to live for and from kayaking. I never thought it would be possible when I was a kid so I’m really happy about how my life turned out, it’s been a long way and it’s amazing now!
Which do you prefer: taking part in competitions such as the Adidas Sickline or big water expeditions and why?
I love both and I think combining a bit of everything is the key. I really like to go on expeditions but after a few months on the road I need the comfort of having a roof, a mattress and a fridge… At the same time I also need to get out there in the wild with my friends and enjoy and explore our amazing nature, new rivers, new places… I think you need to find the right balance and try to do everything.
Preparing for big races is a hard slog. Talk us through your pre-event routine and how you get into the zone for a big race.
I always try to paddle as much as I can throughout the whole season, specially big and technical whitewater that will help me improve my skills. Before a race I just try to paddle the course and get to know it well, have a good time and don’t get too stressed out, which is hard sometimes… For me being relaxed and confident is the key to paddling well.
Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what keeps you motivated?
I just try to paddle as much as I can! My greatest inspirations are my buddies, my brother Aniol, Evan and many more… Trying to keep up with all those guys makes me push myself to be a better kayaker.
Have you ever been scared and if not – what would it take?
Yes of course! Sometimes it’s really hard to push those feelings and fear away and commit to whatever you’re about to do. Fear is good though, it makes you think twice and gives you awareness, panic is bad, real bad but sometimes it just comes and you have to know how to deal with it too. When you are 18 you don’t fear anything because you don’t really know anything, but as you grow older you become more scared and cautious, you have more experience and unfortunately you’ve seen and lived stuff that stays in your mind and makes you see things differently and ultimately take wiser decisions… it’s an evolution.
Do you have any interests in kayaking/watersports outside of whitewater?
I enjoy surfing and I really want to start kite boarding soon. I also like to SUP, specially on rivers and pretty much like almost every outdoor sport there is but still haven’t found something I can do day after day and not get bored.
When preparing for an expedition to a far away place in challenging conditions – what are the qualities you look for in a fellow kayaker?
He has to be a good friend, a great kayaker and an enthusiast. During expeditions you get to know people really well as there are some tough moments… For me a good team is made from a bunch of different individuals with varying abilities.
What one piece of advice would you give to a young paddler just starting out in WW?
Have a lot of fun and get out as much as you can. Try different and new things, various boats, paddle as many rivers as you can… get the most out of kayaking and if you like it, eventually make it your life.
You are the first paddler we have interviewed to have come back from the dead. Is there anything you remember of the experience?
I don’t remember much about the accident… I just know how hard my friends worked to save me and they did. I definitely made a few mistakes that day and I’ve learned a lot from that experience.
Does a near death experience make every day count just that little bit more?
With time you tend to forget about it but every once in a while you relive that situation in your mind and yeah, you are grateful for being alive and enjoying life. Thankful to have such good friends and paddling partners that saved my life so that I am here today.
You have a film production company called SB Productions and you are quite a whizz with the camera – what inspired this?
A few years after beginning paddling, we started watching all the kayaking movies we could get our hands on. After hours and hours watching Full Circle, EJ’s videos, all the YGP movies and a few others, I guess we just wanted to be like them so we started making little edits.
What rig are you using and why?
We upgraded from the Canon 7D to the Panasonic GH4 last year and it’s been awesome. Way lighter and smaller so it’s far easier to carry in your boat and its film quality, slow motion and plenty of other features make it easier to use – your footage looks a lot more professional. It’s sweet, looking forward to the GH5!
Where do you see your cinematography heading? Do you have any particular aspirations for your work outside of kayaking?
We do it because we like it and we are at a pretty amateur level. Our gear is still very limited and we don’t have much time to focus but it could be fun to get into for the future…
What’s the one river you haven’t paddled that would be on your bucket list?
Impossible to name just one… the Indus in Pakistan would be good one though and a bunch in Nepal too!
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
I’m currently in Peru doing a bunch of multi days and heading to Chile to spend the winter until March. From there the Pacific north west in the USA and Norway for the summer… should be pretty good!
If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
I would love to paddle the Pachachaca in Peru with Juanito and go for a Kaituna lap with Lou, miss paddling with these two so much!
Pick two celebrities to be your parents…
Since I don’t know many I’ll stick with them, they are great.
Favourite iPod track?
First Aid Kid – My Silver Lining…
Cats or dogs?
Dogs and big cats!
Facebook or Twitter?
No Twitter so Facebook.
Tea or coffee?
Green and herbal tea.
An ideal night out for you is?
Good dinner surrounded by friends, a full moon paddle with dancing and music around the fire afterwards!
Favourite paddling spot?
The Little White Salmon, just love that place…
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
A huge salad, stuffed eggplants, lasagna… whatever I have around, love to eat good food.
Any broken bones?
No bones but lots of other stuff like torn ligaments, bruised/cracked ribs that take up to six months to heal, wrist, ankle… injuries suck!
If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why?
I would be Goku, he’s the man, who can do anything!
Favourite sport’s team?
Not really a soccer fan but FC Barcelona I guess.
Who are your kayaking buddies?
My friends and my brothers around the world.
Fill in the blanks: I am a ______
Any final shout outs?
I’d like to thank my family for supporting me, my brother Aniol for being the best paddling partner and an amazing inspiration. To all my friends for their support and good times and my amazing girlfriend Ali for always being there for me, helping me achieve my goals and making life a lot more fun and enjoyable. Stoked to share it with all of you, thanks! Finally thanks to my sponsors who help me chase my dreams: adidas, Pyranha, Galasport, Immersion Research, Picky Bars, Watershed Drybags, Go Pro and SBP.