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Chris Hipgrave

Age: 39
Birthplace: Wimbledon, England
Current Residence: Bryson City, NC
Occupation: Retail Director, Nantahala Outdoor Center

Wildwater Information:
How I started paddling wildwater:
Born and educated in England, Chris Hipgrave was a competitive swimmer and kayaker from a very young age culminating in a successful whitewater kayaking background and ultimately winning the British Whitewater Rodeo Championships in 1991, the same year he moved to Bryson City, North Carolina where he now resides.

Remaining an active paddle sports competitor, Hipgrave has been featured in documentaries by S4C and National Geographic in addition to a lengthy list of print and online media. An accomplished expedition paddler, Hipgrave has travelled the World with his kayak searching for new adventures, culminating in two autumns spent paddling in the tiny Himalayan Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan were he surveyed and mapped the countries remote and unpaddled rivers.

Hipgrave continues to compete at high levels, and has been a member of the USA National Wildwater Team since 1999, representing the USA at 5 World Championships and dozens of World Cups. He is a past National Champion and also a respected long distance kayak athlete. He has been named Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine's "Athlete of the Year" twice.

A veteran of the paddle-sport industry including lengthy tenures with Dagger and Liquidlogic, he also coached and held the position of acting Executive Director at the nations most successful whitewater racing club, the Nantahala Racing Club, where he continues to volunteer.

In 2005, Hipgrave joined USA Canoe/Kayak of Charlotte NC as their Olympic High Performance Director where he orchestrated the Olympic programs for both whitewater slalom and flatwater sprint in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Today, Hipgrave acts as Retail Director for the Nantahala Outdoor Center in his surrogate home town of Bryson City, NC.

The class(es) you race: K1

Local and Regional results of note:

National results (team trials and nationals)

International Results:

Years on US Wildwater National Team: Since 1999

Other Paddling/Sports/Hobbies:
Long distance paddling, other forms of paddle-sport races, mountain biking, trail running, triathlons and classic cross country skiing in the winter. And riding my motorcycle.

Personal Information:

  • Marital Status: Married (Trish)
  • Kids: Hell no!
  • Height: 6' 4"
  • Weight: 180
  • Music: Anything but country
  • Food Favorites: Cheese & a good cup of tea.
  • What you do to get ready for a race: Have fun
  • What you do after a race: Focus on the positive and learn from my mistakes


  • Paddle: Jantex
  • Helmet: Shred Ready
  • Spraydeck: Sandiline
  • Paddling Clothes: Sandiline & Under Armor
  • Shoe: Keen
  • Car Motorcycle: KTM 690 Supermoto
  • Favorite energy bar/food: Clif Bar

(click on each for a larger image)

Chris Hipgrave

Upper Gauley