Carter Johnson

Carter Johnson will race in the Extreme Unlimited kayak race at 2 Dam Days this weekend.

Name: Carter Johnson

Age: 39 on Sunday, Oct. 6

City/State: Sausalito, CA.

Boat: Huki Surf Ski 21 ft.

Race: Extreme Unlimited

Business: Manages a team of software developers for a Wells Fargo Bank.

Family: Single

Race wins/races: 2014 US and Canadian Surf Ski World Cup  

Like to Kayak: Very big waves at some tropical place. I would like to do a tour a week, and spend each week at a different Caribbean Island.

Race Strategy: I haven’t been able to train like I want to for this race. At my age I have to acknowledge I can go as good as I can go, without breaking myself, and know it was the hardest I could have gone.  

How/When, Why did you get started kayaking? First I was a gymnast at Purdue University. I participated in triathlons and road biking and I found that these sports had the adventure I was seeking but not the endurance and strength level. I found all the other sports had one or two but not all three. At the age of 28, I started kayaking and found it to have all three and it was a radical adventure. I traveled all around the world visiting crazy locations you can’t get to from anywhere. It is the perfect sport. On my very first trip I ripped the seats out of my Geo, threw my kayak in, and drove five days to Alaska to paddle all over Prince William Sound. I have never had a professional coach.

There are different kinds of kayaking, not everyone does all of them. Carson specializes in down wind surfing which is designed to catch big ocean waves and surf. It’s different than paddling on flat-water (like Lake of the Ozarks). He is the best kayak surfer in America. He specializes in long races, and he holds two Guinness Book of World Records for distance paddling:

  • He holds the farthest distance a human has ever traveled under his own power on flat-water when he kayaked 156 miles in 24 hours in November, 2013 in California.
  • He also holds the record for the farthest distance ever paddled in the world, EVER, in 24 hours, 280 miles, in 2011, on the Yukon River, Canada.
  • He is the current record holder for the 2007 Texas Water Safari, a 260 mile race that goes through the swamps and bayous of Texas. It is hailed as the toughest kayak race in North America.
  • He is also the current record holder for the Yukon River Quest, a 460 mile race down the Yukon River.
  • And he is also the current record holder for the MR340, which he set in 2008.

Carter raced the winningest 2 Dam Days champion Mike Herbert in 2006 in Chicago. The first half of the race Carter surfed. “This type of flat-water racing is not my specialty. Herbert obliterated me by two kilos. He closed the entire distance between us in the second half of the race. Mike has an Olympic flat-water sprinting back ground. He is technically perfect, and very efficient. But, he doesn’t have a surfing back ground. The odds are a bit stacked against me. I give us a 50-50 chance, him or me, to win the 2 Dam Days Extreme Unlimited race. He is a faster flat-water paddler, but I might pull ahead. I would rather lose to good competition, than win to nobody. I love competition.”

Watch Carter Johnson in action (be sure to watch The Gorge)