Jan Liska 20/11/2015 | Posted in Czech Republic, Internationalisation, Uncategorized, Whitewater
Over the years a lot of people have asked my how I came to work in the kayak fishing industry and for Jackson Kayak. Well time to put this story on the paper too 🙂 As with any significant story in a persons life, my involvement in kayak fishing was had its roots way back in the past.
One of my grandfathers was an angler, the second was a canoeist, from then it s kinda obvious isn’t it?…from very early age I was doing both canoeing and fishing on Czech rivers, my family would go for a week or more for camping & paddling, I would be in mainly for the fishing and for running the numerous weirs that we have here in a fiberglass canoe.
Back then it was not allowed to fish from kayaks or canoes in my country, it changed only in 2011. As a kid I would always dream of fishing from our canoe, but I had to always get out of the boat to fish legally. In college my passion for canoeing brought me to the college’s club of kayaking and canoeing where I started with whitewater freestyle on a canoe. I continued training and I progressed until I started participating in all sorts of competitions, world cups, world championships and more.
Meeting Jackson Kayak:
Jackson Kayak started as a whitewater freestyle company, EJ has been a legend in the sport since the very beginnings. I would watch his videos and tutorials and, in due time, learn to do the tricks he was describing. The first time I met the JK crew was during the world cup in freestyle in Prague. The road trip that was the world cup of that year was legendary… total kayak bumming it all the way across Europe with the Czech team. In 2009, at the world championships in Thun, Switzerland, I first paddled the Allstar, I was lucky that there was Guillaume La Rue, a legend in canoe freestyle, who let me use his JK Allstar. That day I realized that EJ’s design was the best boat I ever paddled… Soon after that I got the SuperStar and my progress in freestyle was instantly much faster.
Year 2011- freedom, failures and business:
I still have the SuperStar freestyle kayak, 2010 model, but since I hurt my back at the 2011 World championships I dont paddle it very often, maybe once or twice a year on local freestyle comps. 2011 was a big year… During my university studies I decided that I want to make the best of my life, I swore to myself that I would only work in what I love and that I will prefer freedom over money.
At uni I worked as a language teacher, in many private schools and companies, after seeing the language training business from the inside for so long I felt disgusted, private schools would sell courses to adults at 1.5 hours a week, I knew this was no way enough to learn a language so I started a language school with the aim to offer courses that really had the potential to teach people. As I finished university, with an MA in Phonetics and English Studies, I also applied for grants to research and develop learning applications for smartphones, using speech recognition and visualisation in real time.
Well, at the very same time, the Czech Angling code authorised fishing from kayaks… and Jackson Kayak, my sponsor in freestyle and a company whose designs changed whitewater kayaking, released the Coosa. Bam …. You may guess what happened then. Together with the language school and the grants I also started a shop with fishing kayaks, I correctly identified the JK Coosa as the most attractive design for anglers and cooperation with JK distribution went smoothly. So I had these three projects and I was waiting, like a patient angler, to see which would take off.
My language school effort was doomed… People would not buy expensive and extensive language courses. The grant applications that I sent to the university were repeatedly rejected. To finish me off there came the 2011 World Championships, after 2 weeks of training something snapped in my back. I still remember that I was laying flat in my tent when the telephone rang… it was a customer and I sold a Coosa.