What enters a man’s head as he plunges 60 feet over a thunderous Icelandic waterfall in a tiny plastic boat? In Shaun Baker’s case, it is likely to be his lunch. Followed by his heart, lungs and kidneys, as layer upon layer of suffocating protective clothing sends his internal organs in search of less restrictive accommodation.
The year is 1996 and the waterfall in question is the 64ft Aldeyjarfoss. Emerging from the bone-crushing cauldron of foam at the bottom, the 32-year-old Briton has just set a new world record for “freefall waterfall kayaking”, one discipline of a little-known extreme sport which demands not only technical excellence, but balls the size of watermelons.