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Gioanni PossentiHow I Became A Rogue by Gioanni Possenti
Printed by permission of the Italian canoe magazine: Pagaiando

Gioanni of Italy found TopKayaker.net in the Spring of 2000 and began a correspondence that inspired him to share this article he wrote for an Italian publication. Over the following decade he would inspire the creation of Sit-on-top Kayak Clubs in Italy and paddlers throughout all of Europe.

Tell Tom that he doesn't know what it means to be 'the sit-on-topper in a sit-inside world' until he tries to paddle in Italy. I don't know anyone except one who uses something remotely resembling a SOT. So I wrote a desecrating article for the canoe magazine 'Pagaiando' to beat out of the bushes all fellow sit-on-toppers or people interested. The editor says that I'll burn in hell for all I wrote but appreciated and published it.

I was born and raised religiously a catholic and a sea going kayaker. I'm not writing a new version of "Asparagus And Soul's Immortality ;" where the humorist Campanile, after a long discussion says : "There's no resemblance between asparagus and soul's immortality." In my case there are some analogies.

Gioanni in TorcelloAs a boy I was serving Mass; but growing up as an Italian catholic I became wary of every type of religion serving dogmas and revealed truths. Now I happily live as an agnostic at the opposition, but behaving well as a human being. (I hope). Gioanni in Torcello

As for the second part of the opening statement my approach to sea kayaking was : "Never sit on a boat without a sail looking for something like land trekking on the sea."

I was the first pupil of the first class held in Elba island by ultra orthodox sit-insiders and I was taught everything:

  • How to paddle with Eskimo paddles,
  • How to save and be saved,
  • How to use a paddle-float,
  • The Eskimo roll, and so on.

Elba SansoneVeneziaphoto left: Elba Sansone photo right: Venezia: Sixty canoes pouring in the Canal Grande thru Ponte dei sospiri is something to see Being a new born baby I suffered some violent poetry-fits and seriously considered to have an electric bilge pump in my kayak-to-be. (I say having a poetry-fit when someone with a new toy can't see reality; i.e. a mountain biker doesn't realize he's carrying on his shoulders for miles a piece if iron full of biting things and really enjoys it...I did it.)

After the class ending I borrowed the school's boats in idle days to continue learning all by myself.

Soon I realized, after a short nautical trek, that those boats where too fiber-glassy for me and my character and mainly I was not so sure that : alone, rough sea, wind, nearby reefs, all the skills l 'd learnt under ideal conditions where really within my reach.

Know perfectly well "never go alone" but sometimes I feel an unleashed dog. So I continued land trekking for two years.

"It looked like a plastic gasoline can"In April at a sailing boat fair in Viareggio I had a vision in the front of Rotomod's stand with some sit-on-tops made in France under license by Ocean Kayak.

I was with my wife and I said "Look at those beautiful holes in that "Thing" to let the water out!" The "Thing" , I still can't be at ease calling it a kayak, looked like a sort of a plastic gasoline jug, fluorescent green, with a lot of bumps recesses and straps where to locate and secure your bottom, your feet and various gear.

Talking with the man at the stand I was assured that the "Thing" could float , go single or double, and permit easy ascent after a dive.

After the end of the fair the Ocean K2 was in my garage in Lucca. photo left: Italy's Ocean K2 or the "Malibu Two"

Tandem Italian KayakingThis accidental purchase was last years best. I was the only one having such a boat. I could sell it six times a year 'cause, when someone sees me and my wife loading or unloading it from our little car; landing and embarking; simply sitting up and down; or getting a bath offshore, they want to buy it on the spot!

I took my friends and acquaintances as non-kayakers and converted them into heretics like me, who have no respect for rough seas and fear almost nothing. They simply jump on board after a fall in the water. photo: Me and my wife sailing for the
tour of the Iles Sanguinaires in Corsica

After three years of absolute happiness the old yearning to travel woke up.

I contacted again Rotomod and now I'm the happy owner of another yellow "gasoline jug" with black big hatches; the name: "Scupper Pro."

I'm still learning the pros and cons but after three long trips: Cinqueterre, Venice and the 69 ml tour of Elba, I'm well ahead.

Weighing The Pro's & Con's of the Sit-on-top Kayak:

Pro's:

  • Beginners have no fears and learn easily.
  • You can take a bath (it's warm here) everywhere and every time towing your boat like a scuba signal.
  • In rough conditions (sometimes we have them) water gets in and out without unbalancing the boat.
  • Getting in and out is outrageously easy.
  • Being in polyethylene you can park them on the rocks then throw them in the water and finally dive to embark from the water.

Con's:

  • You must have a dry suit for winter in rough seas.

Maybe Good, Maybe Bad:

  • Being a sit-on-topper among sit-insiders you are always late when paddling in a group.
  • You see a beautiful sea bottom . You start snorkeling.
  • The good-for-nothing of your friends leave you alone paddling like devils till ,and if, they reach a beach where they can have their bath.
  • Alone on a sit-on-top, out of Capo Bianco, talking of work on my cell , stark naked, no paddle float.
  • You become a heretic.
Ciao GIOANNI

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