The Outdoor Industry Association has published more participation data for kayaking and canoeing in their new Outdoor Recreation ParticipationTopline Report, 2009, adding 2008 data to those published earlier in their 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. The news isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either.
Whitewater kayaking participation is down slightly, but not drastically. The graph from the earlier data posted below now looks like this:
This report has some demographic data, which looks like this:
For some reason the 2006 data from this report disagrees with the number reported by OIA earlier. In other figures for recreational and sea kayaking indicate that the former is still growing strongly, while the latter is shrinking somewhat.
The better news is that canoeing is enjoying a small amount of growth, as shown below. Note that canoeing still has higher participation numbers than all forms of kayaking combined.
This supports my iconoclastic theory that open canoeing remains the basis of whitewater paddling, providing the ideal vehicle with which to introduce newcomers to the sport as well as the broad, purchasing base of the commercial pyramid.