The kayak was developed as a hunting vessel by the Inuit people. One of the earliest sightings of this type of craft was in 1732 when a Russian sailor wrote “A leather boat which had room for but one man. He was dressed in a shirt of whale intestines which was fastened about the opening of the boat in such a manner that no water could enter even if a big wave should strike it.” There is no doubt that the hunters who headed out into freezing arctic waters in sealskin boats to harpoon Whales must have of been very brave.
Kayaking in the UK was made popular by John MacGregor. In 1965 he set off down the Thames on a thousand mile trip around Europe. The books he wrote about his trips made kayak touring very popular. MacGregor also set up the Royal Canoe Club, one of the founding British Canoeing clubs.
Kayaking became even more popular when canvas covered boats became available. Kayaking was made an Olympic sport in 1936 and the British Canoe Union (BCU) was formed in the same year. In 2014 the BCU changed its name to British Canoeing.