Until Nolan Whitesell, even the best open canoeists lacked a true combat roll. When they capsized in whitewater, they swam.
As a teenager in Georgia, Whitesell worked out a reliable way to roll a canoe and then spent the next two decades seeking out ever more challenging runs. An engineer by training, he reinvented the canoe to slake his thirst for increasingly difficult whitewater, eventually arriving at the first open canoe designed purely
to tackle Class V, the Piranha, in 1984. Along the way he nailed a number of first descents, including the only canoe run of the Niagara Gorge.