Kumaran M, a paddler who is also a geologist by profession, recently set a new national record by paddling at a location where no person has paddled before — Tsoltak lake in Leh, located at a height of 16,618 feet near Chang La pass. Paddle boarding is a fairly new sport that has its roots in Hawaii. A lot like surfing, it involves standing or sitting or kneeling on a flat “paddle” board very similar to surf boards.
But instead of only relying on riding the surf, paddle boarders use – you guessed it – paddles to help them move.
Kumaram, along with the Bay of Life — an organisation in Chennai that helps people learn how to surf and paddle board, is at the forefront of the fledgling sport in the country. He set this record in in stand up paddling (SUP).
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Currently based out of Gurgaon, he spends his weekends exploring the surroundings for lakes to paddle on. With most lakes around the country’s urban centres turning into garbage dumps, Kumaram, who describes himself as a nature lover, believes if these lakes become sites for water sports they might have a chance of not being neglected. He is using the sport as awareness about conservation of water bodies.
“People only dirty something that they don’t use. If this becomes a vibrant water sports spot, they will make sure that it is not polluted,” he told The Hindu.
An expert at paddle boarding, Kumaram is a three-time Limca book record holder. He also holds a record for paddling the longest distance on open sea. Earlier, he set a record by paddling across Suraj Tal Lake, located at an altitude of 16,000 feet. But paddling on a lake in the middle of Leh has many obstacles. For one, he reported shortness of breath as well as headaches because of altitude sickness. Apart from this, finding the right lake and getting access to it was not easy.
“Many high altitude lakes have a religious connection and do not allow human intervention. A few of the high altitude lakes are at Indo-China border, making it difficult to obtain permission,” he told the Indiatimes
Know more about his achievements here.