Competing in three Summer Olympics, Greg Barton won four medals with two golds K-1 1000 m, K-2 1000 m: both 1988 and two bronzes 1984, 1992: both in K-1 1000 m.
Greg Barton’s Legacy
An Olympic gold medalist with an engineering degree - the perfect blend of talents behind Epic's ICF racing kayaks - the Legacy series
Many of us wish we could do what we love most for a living; but few of us are actually able to make the transition from passionate hobby to successful career. When the lucky ones make it happen, the results are usually pretty special. All that passion translates into hard work, determination, and a high standard.
Greg Barton optimizes this theory. This guy is all about paddling, he loves it, and his passion for the sport propelled him to its pinnacle: Olympic gold medalist. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Greg has succeeded in other facets of the sport. His boat and paddle designs have been extremely influential in the industry, and in many cases have been groundbreaking. He is relentless in his pursuit of innovative boat design and construction methods, and his paddling technique and training theories are studied as kayak gospel by many.
After applying all his passion and experience to Epic paddles, sea kayaks and surfskis, Greg finally found the right time and circumstances to go back to where it started for him: ICF racing kayaks. An Olympic gold medalist with an engineering degree, could there be a better fit?
Given your history and success in the ICF world, has it been your dream to one day build your own top end ICF racing boats?
I've always been interested in ICF racing kayaks, and looked forward to the day I could channel my passion into a new line of top end boats; but until recently I never had the right combination of manufacturing and design capabilities to make a serious entry into the market. The timing was finally right to get it done the way I envisioned; I’m really happy about what we have done.
Why did you team up with Ted Van Dusen for the Epic Legacy K1 & K2?
Ted and I go back many years. In 1987 Van Dusen told me he had tow tank drag measurements on a prototype hull that tested faster than the Cleaver K-1, which I was paddling at the time. I encouraged him to mold it, put a deck on it and get one for me to race. The prototype (which was not intended to be a finished kayak) became the Eagle. I switched to this boat 6 weeks before the World Championships and won two gold medals that year (K-1 1000 and 10,000m) by considerable margins at the ICF Worlds in Duisburg. Three of my four Olympic medals (including both Golds) were won in Van Dusen boats. Previously Van Dusen kayaks were relatively expensive, which led paddlers to seek out lower cost European made boats. With our new state of the art production facility, I saw an opportunity to make high performance K-1's and K-2's at reasonable costs. I contacted Ted and suggested that we work together to develop and produce a new generation of state of the art ICF boats.
What have you guys done to set the Epic ICF boats apart from the competition?
Ted has re-optimized the hull shapes with his drag formulas based on years of experience and testing data. We feel that we've made real gains in the K-1’s, in all of the various weight ranges, compared to existing hulls in the marketplace. We've made even larger gains in the K-2's, and for heavy paddlers (over 90 kg) with the XXL version of our K-1. We've moved the rudder to the extreme stern of our boats for sprint racing which decreases drag on the rudder. Our seats are adjustable in fine 5mm increments. We've made many small changes which add up a significant boost in overall performance. We’re very excited with what we have done.
What do you envision for the future of ICF boats? Do you see growth and expanded participation? How can America catch up with the international paddling community in this respect?
ICF Sprint and Marathon racing continues to be very popular worldwide. Unfortunately, this popularity is not seen in America, yet. I'd love to see more clubs, more races and more participants in USA. For the short term, our best bet is for the top paddlers to work together and push each other. There are many younger paddlers on the USA team which is promising. It will be a real challenge to compete with powerhouse programs such as Hungary and Germany, but worth it!
Do you think there can be crossover appeal for the K1 s? Many seakayakers have made the transition to surfskis recently, embracing the speed, efficiency and fun of fitness paddling and racing. Can the ICF boats be the next step? Or is the learning curve a little too steep for the average paddler?
There is good crossover between Surf Skis and ICF boats. Many of the world's best ski paddlers train and/or have spent significant time in the past training in ICF kayaks. The jump from sea kayaker or beginner/intermediate level ski paddler to ICF K-1 is a big one. While any ICF paddling can improve your technique and stability, it will take a dedicated person willing to spend a lot of time to reach full proficiency in a K-1. Again, hard work, but very rewarding.
At Epic, we want to encourage aspiring paddlers in all disciplines. Every boat and paddle is designed to make people paddle their best. We feel that our ICF K-1's and K-2's offer real advantages that can help those striving to compete at the highest levels.