With its many lakes and rivers, the Greensboro region is a natural draw for lovers of watersports – paddlesports in particular.
Thanks to better-designed crafts that are both comfortable and functional, canoeing and kayaking have seen a tremendous rise in popularity.
Greensboro's own Andy Zimmerman, a pioneer in kayak design, has played a big part in that growth. He started Wilderness Systems, which eventually merged with other companies to become Confluence Watersports, one of the largest makers of canoes and kayaks in the country.
"It was a hobby turned business," Zimmerman says.
Zimmerman now is co-owner of water sports outfitter Get Outdoors. He says the kayaks he designs are geared toward ease of use as well as stability in the water.
"We took comfort and outfitting to another level and probably helped make kayaking in the U.S. and other parts of the world more popular because of the user-friendly kayaks we developed," Zimmerman says.
Zimmerman attributes the growing popularity of paddlesports to the fact that they are affordable as well as accessible to everyone from trained athletes to novices.
"Kayaking can be everything from exciting, adrenaline-rushing white water to going out with the grandkids to fish or take photos," Zimmerman says. "It appeals to a very large user base, from executives to families."
He notes that with the high cost of gas and the lack of leisure time available today, paddlesports provide the perfect opportunity to get away from it all without going too far.
And Greensboro is the perfect place to paddle, Zimmerman says.
"We have a lot of lakes in the area and slightly running rivers that are great," he says. "These places are right close by and easily accessible."
Some of his favorite local spots to kayak include Lake McIntosh, Lake Brandt, High Point City Lake and Lake Jeanette.
Although Get Outdoors is a favorite stop for experienced paddlers, it also caters to newbies through demonstrations that start with the basics.
"Our qualified people can show you the boat you should try out, and you get basic instruction on what you need to do," Zimmerman says. "We guarantee you won't go over and you'll have fun." Get Outdoors also offers safety classes, sponsors paddling trips and is heavily involved in conservation efforts.