Brian McMilan aka "McFloats" of Greenville, SC has kayaked throughout the world, and this week went on his first run in Arkansas while on his way to Colorado for the World Qualifiers. He currently holds the world record for tallest waterfall(70 feet!) descended in an open canoe(Link here). We asked the Dagger kayak team veteran a few questions about his morning trip down the Mulberry, and about life on the water in general.
FC - Do you remember the first time you got on the water?
B - I was about eight. I remember it was pretty fun. It was the Nantahala River in North Carolina. My dad wasn’t great at guiding a raft though, and we ended up on a lot of rocks.
FC - When did you start competing?
B - Well I started kayaking around twelve, and competing around eighteen.
FC - So how does the floating in Arkansas compare with others?
B - It was really pretty. Every time I’m somewhere new I'm amazed by the beauty of the rivers. Rock walls, trees, and the always unique flora and fauna. Like in Austria the water was glacier fed, so it was this weird blue grey color. The water was pretty high today on the Mulberry at around seven and half feet, so it was a fun first one in Arkansas.
FC - What advice would you give new kayakers and canoers?
B - Make sure you don’t forget or lose your keys for your shuttle vehicle, and always leave dry clothes at the takeout.
FC - Favorite season to float?
B - Summer is nice because of the warmth, and lack of clothes needed. It's always fun when it feels good to jump in the water. Spring in the southeast is hard to beat though.
FC - How do you see the sport evolving?
B - Well it was on a downward decline for past fifteen years. Companies were scaling back, trying to weather the storm of the recession. Recently though there’s been a big push, especially in canoing, to run with new and different stuff. They're pushing the limits. Technology and new designs have opened up the abilities. Stuff like plastic canoes. You can go on whatever run you want frequently without too many costly repairs. Canoes in general have gotten shorter, and more manuervable so it’s easier to run harder stuff.
FC - What are some goals you’d like to accomplish over the next few years?
B - I’m looking at a waterfall that will break the record. Hopefully I’ll be the first on it. I'm traveling to Mexico too, and they've got some big waterfalls. I got a grand canyon permit for this winter, and it will be my second time on that amazing river.
Stay tuned for more from Brad and the rest of the Fayettechill Team!