Jane Hardy – 2021 Kayaker of the Year

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

It is long overdue to give tribute to a great kayaker, an early SDKC leader, serving many years as the club president, and valued member of our kayaking community. Jane has been a leader and helper to many on trips and numerous skills sessions she has led… and a great friend to many of us. In putting this article together, it was decided to ask several people to contribute photos and comments. You may learn, as I have, some new things about Jane. She is an accomplished world traveler and adventurer, going to many wonderful destinations for hiking and kayaking. People from as far away at the UK sent some amazing photos (and a video, which will be posted at a later date). Looking through all the photos, it is a trip down memory lane, covering a time-span of several years with old friends. And what a pleasure it is to know her, because the best part of life is who we have the privilege of knowing.

It is natural for Jane to be a Sea Kayaker, as she has salt in her veins. She grew up in New England, often helping her dad on his lobster boat. You have to work fast and efficiently on those boats, often in rain, cold and wind, all while watching your feet so the line does not wrap around them and drag you overboard to the bottom. She is very comfortable in sea conditions that would turn back many of us, and is always willing to try new experiences to test her skills and ability. And that is how she has become a very accomplished kayaker. She is in a relatively small group of kayakers who have paddled the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Jane also loves the mountains, and is a great person to have on any trip. She has hiked and kayaked in at least 12 countries, and several states, including Alaska. I’m sure that if we could see all the photos of her on these trips, they would fill several albums. The following photos and comments are randomly presented. So, we raise our glass to you Jane…

Baja – Photo by Donna Sylvester
Whale watch paddle in 2009, La Jolla Shores
Hebrides, UK – Photo by Steve Banks

“I would suggest changing the award to Kayaker of the Decade. No one’s resume comes close to the things Jane has experienced over the last few years. Northern California/SF Bay, Fort Bragg, Channel Islands, Kern River, Grand Canyon, UK, countless hours of BCU instruction, and Croatia, are just a few of Jane’s adventures that come to mind. I suspect there are many more I am not even aware of. Not to mention all she has done for San Diego and So Cal. paddling.”      -John Brindle

Colorado River, Grand Canyon – Photo by Teresa Boli
Grand Canyon – Photo by Teresa Boli

“My awesome trips with Jane as illustrated by these photos (above) from Grand Canyon, circa 2009.  She was always geared up, organized, and rarin’ to hit the water. Photo of rapid descent (you can imagine how big the Grand Canyon rapids are): she would attack challenges like whitewater kayaking the Grand Canyon with a positive attitude and always set her sights on improving her skills.  Photo of waterfall: Jane is always so much fun out of a kayak, too. A kayak trip with Jane is always fun, full of learning, excitement, and fun.”   -Teresa Boli

Mission Bay Skills Practice – Photo by Joe Morin
Sierras 2013
Colorado River below Hoover Dam 2009
“Perching”, Mendocino 2010 – Photo by Dennis Hyndman

“I first met Jane in 2005 and have shared a number of great times on the water with her. She was then, and continues to be, someone who is always improving her skills in order to tackle anything the ocean can throw at her. More importantly, she has the competence to enjoy the ocean in all its moods.  Jane was a much better surf kayaker than I ever could hope for.  On a Mendocino trip, I remember trying to figure out the surf in my small boat, just to see Jane gracefully surfing to perfection.  I didn’t spend a lot of time with her in the surf, but that moment has stuck with me as she was, once again, pure calm and having fun on the water.”     . -Dennis Hyndman

Dore Holm, Shetland 2015 – Photo by Steve Banks
Cuba 2017 – Photo by Lori Nickerson

“You will often find me hanging out with Jane, because she’s usually right in the middle of where the fun is happening!!”     -Lori Nickerson (Cuba, 2017)

Wednesday Morning Paddle 2012
Shetland UK – Photo by Steve Banks
Skills Practice 2013 – Photo by Joe Morin

“Jane Hardy is as bad-ass as they come! She’s kayaked the Grand and all through Europe: and she’s hiked all over the world. She’s led skills sessions encouraging all to try their best. San Diego is lucky to have her!  There is no mountain too high and no body of water too full of motion for Jane. I’m happy and proud to call her a friend and mentor. Big Hugs.”  -Sheri Belling

Sierras 2012
Shetland 2018 – Photo by Steve Banks
Papa Stour, Shetland UK -Photo by Steve Banks

“Croatia, May of 2010, one of the many ‘excellent adventures’ I’ve had the privilege of going on with Jane.  You couldn’t ask for a better travelling companion.  When Jane has the helm, you know you’re in good hands.”       -John Nickerson

Off Point Loma 2009
Sierras 2012
Hanging out at Aqua Adventures 2007

“I met Jane many years ago when I was taking my first ever kayak lessons. They were in San Diego with Jen Kleck. One day Jen sent us out to do rescue practice with Jane and your group. She welcomed us and included us in her skills practice. Since then, we became good friends, have taken many kayak courses and joyfully paddled together in many parts of the world. Jane is the most positive person I know. She always makes the best of every situation. I’ve never heard her say anything bad about anyone or any place. Fortunately for all of us, her positivity is contagious. I have a ton of photos of Jane from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Baja (Pacific and Sea of Cortez), San Francisco, Redding, Mendocino and who knows where else. I have many stories, but just say Donna said “It’s your turn, Jane”. She will laugh.”           -Donna Sylvester

Mission Bay 2008
Christmas paddle 2019 – Photo by John Vermeule

“Having done 4 Star training with her, I recall Jen one day calling me at home and saying there was a small craft advisory for the following day with gale force winds.  Did I want to go out and work on our rough water skills?  I jumped at the opportunity and was glad to see a group of very accomplished paddlers when we launched from Mission Bay.  The day was a bit crazy as we didn’t get out of the channel before someone capsized and then one paddler got seasick north of the PB Pier.  We had to call the life guard to remove him from the water.  After towing an empty boat and practicing various tows scenarios we landed on a crashing beach at the Marine Room.  I remember that Jane said it was good to have her friends on the water with her that day.  I seconded the thought.”        -Dennis Hyndman

Orkney Island, Scotland – Photo by Donna Sylvester
Ireland 2015 – Photo by Donna Sylvester
“At the Helm” – Photo by John Nickerson

“I first met Jane paddling in Baja when I was over in San Diego and filled in for an absent staff member on a trip.  Jane then put me and my partner Ursula and then baby son Ralf up for 3 months in 2011 whilst I was conducting research in California.  She has since been over to stay with us on about 10 occasions and has joined about the same number of sea kayak trips which I run.  Like all the other folk who repeatedly come on my trips, Jane has fallen in love with the NW of Scotland, including Skye and the Hebrides in particular. Shetland however, takes the prize for most outstanding paddling destination on the planet (I’m biased but not much!).  Shetland has many of the world’s biggest and longest sea caves and has hundreds of miles of coastline which are a ‘Swiss cheese’ of stacks, cliffs and caves packed with amazing wildlife. All Jane’s British paddling friends send their regards and missed her on the recent trips.” -Dr. Steve Banks, UK

Baja 2014 – Photo by Steve Huemmer
Baja 2014 – Photo by Steve Huemmer
Baja 2014 – Photo by Steve Huemmer
Baja 2014 – Photo by Steve Huemmer

“I can only echo what others have said:  wonderful companion on all paddles and adventures, always curious and determined to improve her paddling skills and knowledge, and to generously share it with others.  It is safe to say that the Club owes its continued existence to her consistent efforts and leadership.” -Steve Huemmer

Wales – Photo by Donna Sylvester