This week we meet Tyler Fox, one of the original Tribe Rider paddlers, New Zealand raft racer, raft guide, fireman and maple syrup loving Canadian at heart. We started by asking him how he got involved in paddling….
In High School I took an Outdoor Ed class and we learnt whitewater canoeing (in NZ they call it Canadian Canoeing, but in Canada it’s just canoeing). I quickly realised kayaking was way easier and much more fun. This lead me to get a job on the Ottawa River as a raft guide so that I could be on the water everyday rafting and kayaking in all my spare time.
What have you been doing since Tribe Rider?
Since Tribe Rider? Tribe Rider for life!! ha ha
But yeah, I have slowed down on the extreme kayaking side of my life. I found it difficult to keep pushing myself harder and harder and with sponsors you felt the need to do this. Taking a step back from that has been awesome, it has given me way more time and freedom to pursue other adventures. I probably spend more time on my surfboard or mountain bike than I do in my kayak these days, which is refreshing.
What motivates you to keep paddling/rafting?
You probably get the same answers from everyone, they are very cliche, but it is hard to get past them. The call of the river (the places you get to see), and the people you meet along the way. A perfect example of this, last week I found myself paddling down a river, dodging streamers of prayer flags, as it makes its way off the Tibetan Plateau. With me was around 100 other paddlers from all over the world, new friends, old friends, just a bunch of good… people. It would be very hard to walk away from experiences like this with out feeling inspired and motivated (check out the IRF World Rafting Championships Facebook page to see photos and videos of the event).
Most memorable river experience?
One that stands out for me was competing in the inaugural White Water Grand Prix in Quebec. Just to be considered for that event was amazing, there are so many great kayakers out there. I feel that event kinda changed the mindset of what is possible to do during a kayaking event. The race courses were harder, more challenging then what had been done before, and the waves surfed were the biggest waves you can surf anywhere in the world so to hold an event on them and showcase what was happening in big wave surfing was amazing. I think all 25 competitors came out of that event like wholly s#!t did that just happen. Unforgettable.
Funniest river moment?
Being a raft guide for the past 17 years I have seen some hilarious things go down on and off the river. And I know all the raft guides reading this right now are having a chuckle running through a long list of probably similar moments they have witnessed. I can’t begin to describe them all, so I won’t. All I can say is… if you want to see some random, bizarre, funny things happen, spend a season as a raft guide. You wont regret it.
Worst moment on a river?
As a river person it is always there in the back of your mind, the worse case scenario… a death on the river, and we do our best to avoid these situations. Unfortunately, as a member of Fire and Emergency (Search and Rescue) it is our job to deal with these situations when they do occur. Getting the call to go down into the Lower Gorges of the Kaituna River to look for the body of our missing friend is without a doubt the darkest moment of my life on the river.
Life balance or always on the river?
I work as a fire fighter, which seems to be a popular job option for washed up kayakers/raft guides… ha ha. It truly is the best job when it comes to balancing work with lifestyle. The 4 on – 4 off schedule leaves me with plenty of time to have adventures and get on the water. Plus getting to stay fit at work is a bonus.
Words of wisdom?
The best advice I could give to all the new and aspiring raft guides would be to remember your customers are just people, so talk to them like they are people. I always cringe when I hear new guides talking at their customers in a monotone, robot like manner. The best way to get past this is to put the effort in early and know what you are talking about, know your safety briefs, and know the river you are on. Once you feel more comfortable with these aspects you will feel more comfortable to ditch the script and actually start interacting with your guests.
Best thing about the IRF?
Making events happen! Myself and Brendan Bayly (another Team NZ member) run a bunch of low-key kayaking events in NZ… and it is always more work and a pain in the butt then you would think. The IRF rafting events have so many moving parts and people, they are totally on another level, so to make them happen in general is a massive undertaking. My hat goes off to everyone that makes it happen, front and centre or behind the scenes, those people are the strength of the IRF.
When will we see you next?
I’m off to Indonesia in a couple weeks for a surfing trip, but as far as river trips go, the R6 World Rafting Championships in Australia will be the next event I aim to get to. But I am always open to new opportunities!
Key endeavours / projects going on?
I am starting to organise a raft race for Fire and Emergency New Zealand members on the Kaituna River. We will have Rotorua Rafting guides joining teams of 4 – 6 fire fighters. After sending it off the waterfalls we will race to the bottom of the river. I am expecting lots of carnage and laughs!
Tyler Fox is one of our River Family. Are You?
#AreYouReady #RaftersAreAwesome #RiverFamily #StrongerTogether #WeAreIRF
We’re looking for more stories of River Family – if you have a story to tell, email Sean with your story and photos.