What happens when you take water polo and throw a kayak into the mix? Well, you get a unique sport called (wait for it) kayaking water polo — or kayolo, for short.
Kayaking and water polo? Yes. It’s a real thing. In fact, it takes place right here in Sooke every Thursday night just in front of the Stickleback Eatery off of Coopers Cove; so you can both dine out in the evening sunshine, and watch a gladiator-style water battle unfold right in front of you.
Don’t think that just because they’re in kayaks that the sport is any less intense; unlike normal water polo where your biggest challenge is keeping yourself afloat, there’s always a chance you could receive a paddle to the face, or capsize.
“You can score with your paddle or block the ball, or you can also score with your arms and wrestle your way through to the other team’s net just like classic water polo,” said Scott Taylor, owner and operator of the Stickleback restaurant and Rush Adventures, a kayaking/marine sport recreation centre right next door.
Taylor said the sport wasn’t exactly planned; it just happened to be so awesome that it naturally attracted more players to it — and, of course, giving his customers a chance to grab a beer out on the patio and watch these guys splash feverishly back and forth for the win.
The team usually gets together to set up the arena and nets around 5 p.m., and they start around 6 p.m. — finishing the game around 8 or so.
Taylor said his passion for kayak water polo was 13 years ago when a friend introduced him to it.
“I thought, what a great connection with Rush Adventures that we do with the kayaking and stuff, so I started that a few years ago, and people having been coming out ever since to play and to watch,” he said.
“We’ve been playing kayak water polo for 13 years now.”
With more action than a Pirates of the Caribbean film (the one that wasn’t terrible) there’s no sitting on the bleachers or the docks and watch the game unfold; everyone’s involved, everyone’s playing all the time. And good news is, the team is currently looking for players.
Taylor said that if you are new to kayaking, you would have to do a trial, as well as a wet exit in which you learn how to get out of the boat properly without, y’know, drowning.
“Takes them a little while to get used to it. Some of these guys have never played; paddle or kayaks or anything before this sport.” he said. “There’s no one on the Island playing this sport, so we feel pretty special to be able to play this year-to-year.”
New participants can either bring their own kayaks or borrow some of the kayaks; only issue is helmets, due to the potential of getting whacked up the nostril by a wet paddle. But that isn’t a big problem either, said Taylor, pointing out that a hockey helmet would be acceptable. “You’ll play two or three games, but it’s a sport you can pick up pretty quick.”
He said they play from the end of April all the way through to end of September — he added that these guys would be crazy enough to play in the winter.
“We always said we’re going to do a Christmas or New Year’s morning, that should be pretty fun,” Taylor said.
For more info, visit www.rush-adventures.com.