Twenty-five-year-old Jaime Enrique Lancaster Rial is from Cochrane in the south of Chilean Patagonia. In Lancaster’s hometown, he had access to learn whitewater paddlesports through a youth kayaking club at the non-profit organization “Escualos.”
At 17 years old, Lancaster started training at the kayaking center in Pucon, where he earned a place on the Chilean Slalom Team.
Finding whitewater gear in Chilean Patagonia
Like Ugandan Professional Kayaker Sadat Kawawa featured in part two of this five-part series, Lancaster found it challenging to find and afford paddlesports gear in Chile. Most adventure sports brands are United States-based companies. According to Lancaster, the nearest distributor in Chile is more than 800 miles or 1,300 kilometers away. His mother bought his first set of kayaking gear. Since then, he has worked as a rafting guide in Chile and a builder in the USA to fund his gear needs.
Unlike Kawawa’s sponsorship experience, Lancaster had an easier time securing brand ambassadorship opportunities.
Lancaster wrote to Max Blackburn, the sales manager at Immersion Research “after the best kayaking season [he has] had in the past five years.” Immersion Research is a designer and manufacturer of paddling gear in Pennsylvania, USA.
Lancaster met Blackburn in Futaleufu, Chile, when he was 15 years old and just learning to kayak.
Whitewater paddlesports a welcoming community for people of color
Although many women and people of color on panel discussions and in listening groups throughout 2020 said they had been the victim of racism, misogyny, weight-shaming, classism, and other negative experiences while participating in various adventure sports — including paddlesports, racism has not been an issue for Lancaster.
The underrepresentation of people of color in extreme sports
Which leads one to ask, why are people of color and other formerly marginalized communities — LGBTQ+, Womxn, veterans, and persons with disabilities or differing abilities — underrepresented in adventure sports? Our industry panel discusses this question in part five of our series.
In part four of our five-part series, we meet Lily Durkee — co-founder of Diversify Whitewater. A non-profit organization based out of Colorado, USA. Diversify Whitewater’s mission is removing barriers for Black, Indigenous, people of color and allies in paddlesports.
You can catch up on this series here: