Rush Sturges, Marlow Long, & Brooks Baldwin

Judging from the footage in Young Gun Productions’ 2004 DVD New Reign, extreme kayaking has found its heirs apparent. The flick, 30-plus minutes of pure kayak porn, stars the trio and a cadre of their underage, overtalented pals running 70-foot waterfalls, cartwheeling through ten-foot standing waves, and raising hell on some of the world’s fiercest waterways, from Uganda’s White Nile to Canada’s Slave River. Set to rap and hip-hop, it forgoes narration for frame after frame of lemming-style plunges and teenage rowdiness. (In one scene, paddler Merlin Hanauer cranks the rental van through high-speed donuts in a Norway parking lot.) Talent and guts notwithstanding, the Young Guns’ irreverence and Hiltonesque reputation for partying haven’t gone over well with the sport’s veterans. “Don’t get me wrong—they go huge,” says Clay Wright, 37, a member of the U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team since 1995. “But they need to learn that people aren’t just watching them when they’re on the water.” Which, as it turns out, is most of the time: Long, 20, Baldwin, 20, and 19-year-old Sturges, the 2003 junior world freestyle champion, made their first movie, The Next Generation, in 2002 as students at the Vermont-based kayaking academy Adventure Quest. For their next offering, Dynasty, due out in late 2005, they’ll head to the Congo’s big water. “With a 15- or 20-foot wave,” says Sturges, “anything’s possible.”

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