Extreme Sea Kayak World Mourns Loss of Eric Soares

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The extreme sea kayaking world lost one of its most ardent pioneers with the recent passing of Eric Soares, a founding member of California’s Tsunami Rangers, a kayaking club specializing in big-wave feats along the rocky California coast. Soares died unexpectedly on Feb. 1 at age 58…

Eric Soares was a co-founder and commander of the Tsunami Rangers, an elite group of California open-deck sea kayakers who pioneered equipment and techniques for paddling in sea caves, rock gardens and large waves. Along with Michael Powers, he co-authored “Extreme Sea Kayaking” and more recently “Confessions of a Wave Warrior.”

Soares, who lived in Half Moon Bay, Calif., died due to complications following a ski accident in Lake Tahoe earlier in the week. Most feel his death is also most likely linked to an event in 2003 when he suffered an aortic dissection and underwent surgery. “It was very sudden,” fellow Tsunami ranger John Lull wrote on Soares’ blog, adding that he had been moved out of Intensive Care at the hospital.

Regardless, he will be missed by all who knew him – especially those he paddled with as a member of the Tsunami rangers and those paddlers living vicariously through his boat-endoing exploits along the coast. Whether it was surfing giant waves into sea caves or “rock gardening” among jagged California coast, he pioneered both technique and boat design for the conditions he liked to paddle in –conditions most would steer clear of.

“While some would argue that Soares and the Tsunami Rangers are a bunch of crazy risk takers, most of us in the sea kayaking community know better,” writes Sherri Mertz, owner and BCU and ACA-certified lead instructor for Sherri Kayaks. “He was a staunch advocate of personal responsibility and safety who strongly encouraged kayakers to dress for the water temperatures in full wetsuits, develop their skills and practice regularly, use safe equipment appropriate to the environment, and to paddle in groups with other skilled kayakers.”
Mertz goes onto to encourage all sea kayakers to read Soares’ two books and follow his advice in the “Take Heart!” chapter in “Confessions of a Wave Warrior”: “Don’t take your life for granted. Go for it, now!”

For video of the Tsunami Rangers in action, click here