Kayak: The New Frontier, The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique, A Book Review

Comes now the second edition of William Nealy’s more-than-entertaining, more-than-informative illustrative take on paddlers ranging from “hardcore hippy hairboaters or insane youngsters clattering tiny play boats down steep, rocky creeks” – as Amazon advertises this masterful update on the newest kayak equipment, the most evolved kayak technology.

Kayak: The New Frontier Book Review by Hughes Reviews
Kayak: The New Frontier Book Review by Hughes Reviews

Drawings and more kayak drawings in this Book

More than four hundred total.

The genius of Mr. Nealy’s work lies most of all in his transmission of solid, understandable guidance on the sport, all in the context of drawings guaranteed to make the most sober, the most stolid of yakkers hoot. And hoot some more. Practical sure, but funny. Funny for both experienced paddlers and newcomers alike. World-renowned for his cartooning, Bill Nealy teaches in the simplest of terms the sometimes counter-intuitive techniques of our sport: you know, like all the bunny-slope lessons of downhill skiing. Kayaking, especially the more adventurous sorts, borrows from the accumulated wisdom of skiing, but also of mountain biking, climbing, wilderness hiking and camping, even in-line skating.

Kayak Book Author William Nealy is gone.

His wisdom lives on. And on.

We lost him a long time ago, in 2001, but Mr. Nealy remains a, oh, diplomat for all of us who find in water of all sorts a workout for the muscles, a soothe to a speeding mind, a balm for the soul. We have on those waters also found some genuinely dumbass moments. Mishaps and mistakes that we hope and pray no one . . . no one! . . . ever saw. Bill Nealy, humble, forthright William Nealy drew what he knew. He too had capsized, had taken on all the wrong rocks, had made the most ridiculous of paddling decisions – and he lampooned himself. Full of empathy for his readers. Rich in his love for his time on the river.

William Nealy, instructor in the abstract.

In no way are the Hughes Brothers suggesting that Kayak: The New Frontier – or any other instructional manual – can come close to replacing paddle-in-hand learning pushed forward by a qualified, caring teacher. This book rides along as the perfect complement, however. Just right for those times when you can’t be on the water. Worthy of a re-read, even for those who absorbed the lessons of the first edition way back then. Bill’s explanations are clear. Lucid. Unmistakable in their weight and heft, the humor of the accompanying illustrations notwithstanding, the cartoons making human and immediate the abstractions of text-book learning. Bill Nealy’s art has become a tool of memory, a look at kayaking in a way that once seen cannot be unseen.

If you paddle whitewater, read William Nealy.

This book enjoys some serious staying power. As your prowess in the boil and the froth grows, you can come back to Kayak: The New Frontier, and find again a lesson pertinent to exactly where you find yourself on the river. Its conditions. Its flow. Its demands for respectful consideration before putting in. Its demands for safety first. Its potential for unforgettable moments never, not once available on dry land.

Mr. Nealy’s visual interpretations of whitewater in all its manifestations of power and speed, of danger and joy remain a testament for the ages. Worthy of your grandson’s consideration as he walks down the Snake’s edge for the first time.

Yes, even children may find here their first understanding of Class 1 cruises, of the foam and the rollers waiting for them sometime, somewhere in a downhill, rock-filled future.

This Kayak Book is shareable and then some.

Read all about it.

The Hughes boys urge you to consult William Nealy, to read and look and enjoy. And then to find a fellow yakker, and introduce that lucky paddler to the laughter, the knowledge, the humanity you’ve found in a book. But perhaps you find yourself past the lessons of an original, a man dead for almost twenty years, a man who couldn’t possibly teach you one thing.

Please reconsider. Please.

Whitewater kayaking is timeless. Beyond fun. Absurd in a way that makes any instruction, live-and-in-person or book borne, finally beside the point.

But Bill Nealy has found whitewater’s soul, its ineluctable call on us all.


Click here for Amazon Purchase info: The New Frontier: The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique