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Bill Masters, Founder of Perception Kayaks, Inducted into the International Whitewater Hall of Fame

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Masters joins 39 individuals from 12 countries in the IWHoF who have all made significant contributions to the whitewater world

Greenville, SC – July 31, 2017


Kayaking trailblazer Bill Masters is the latest inductee into the International Whitewater Hall of Fame. He will join the likes of Bob McNair, Jim Snyder and Theo Block as a member of the Pioneer 2017 class. Masters will be grouped with 39 individuals from 12 countries in the IWHoF who have all made significant contributions to whitewater related activities.

“I certainly appreciate this induction, it’s great to be recognized as an innovator,” Masters said of the news. “It was awesome being an integral part of growing the industry with our ideas and design culture.”

A true kayaking pioneer in every sense of the word, Masters evolved North American kayak design into what we have today. Taking kayaking from the club days of fiberglass boats being manufactured in limited numbers and designs in the backyards and garages of America, he transformed the boats to the worldwide exposure they now garner. His vision and commitment to excellence greatly influenced paddlesports from design and manufacturing, to the evolution of the sport itself.

“I’m very proud of my Dad,” Adam Masters, Bill’s son and founder of bellyak – the next evolution in paddlesports. “His contributions to the paddlesports industry have driven the evolution of the category more than anyone else out there.”

Masters started Perception Kayaks in 1975 Liberty, SC, making the bold switch from from fiberglass kayaks and canoes to rotationally molding boats in cross-linked polyethylene. As a result, Perception led the way in getting kayaks into the hands of the masses. The brand also helped solidify the first retail network for kayaks, establishing a network of kayak field reps and supported events like whitewater rodeos, freestyle competitions, sea kayak symposiums and river celebrations, such as Gauley Festival. In addition to his efforts to promote recreational kayaking within the U.S., Masters also made an effort to gain worldwide exposure by establishing Perception manufacturing and distribution arrangements based in Japan, Great Britain and New Zealand.

A driving influence for the industry and its’ current major players, Masters had an eye for talent and provided a diving board for some of the best known folks in the whitewater industry. These include designers (Corran) Addison, Bob McDonough, and Shane Benedict. Marketing and manufacturing personalities Ken Horowitz (Hydra), Joe Pulliam (Dagger), Pete Jett (Dagger) Woody Calloway (Liquid Logic), Steve Jordan (Hurricane), as well as Rob Lesser, Risa Shimoda and Eric Jackson. Dagger and Liquid Logic – two other successful kayak brands – were both founded by employees of Perception.

Not just interested in quality and design, Masters also invested in conservation. He presented the annual Perception River Conservationist of the Year award, presented to the most influential

advocates in the US such as Ron Storck – Friends of the River (California), John Gangemi –

American Whitewater (Montana), Mac Thornton – Founder of the Savage River Defense Fund, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Potomac Conservancy (DC) and Tom Christopher – New England FLOW (Massachusetts).

“I knew of Bill Masters long before I ever met him. His influence on the kayaking industry is so

large, that even growing up in distant South Africa, I knew of him and his kayaks. There is no

question in my mind that Bill belongs in the exclusive club of great personalities that have

shaped this industry and sport we all love so much,” Corran Addison said.

Pioneer by nature, Masters’ trailblazing efforts did not stop in the world of whitewater, as he also holds the world’s first 3D Printing patent. The idea came to him, coincidentally, on the banks of a kayaking trip – the Chattooga River under the 76 bridge on the South Carolina side to be exact. Masters began thinking about spit balls (of all things) that eventually led to his invention of the 3D printer. His full list of patents related to 3D printing are: 4,665,492, 5,134,569, 5,216,616, 5,546,313, and 5,694,324.

Long story short? Masters knows first hand the importance of a good kayaking trip. For more information on Bill Masters, check out: The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – that will take place on the evening of October 21, 207 – will be hosted alongside the National Paddlesports Conference in Bryson City, NC. Also inducted in the 2017 IWHOF Class are Nikki Kelly and Julie Munger, who are being inducted in the Explorer category, and Bunn Johns, who is honored in the Advocate category.


About Bill Masters

Bill is an American engineer, inventor, manufacturing entrepreneur, and business advisor and mentor. He is widely known as the father of modern kayaking, but he’s also the father of 3D printing, holding the first 3D patent filed with the USPTO. Today, Bill works to share his experience and insights with young people and a range of commercial enterprises. He also presents to academic, industry and professional groups, with a perspective that combines his humble roots, countercultural sensibilities and innovative approach to engineering and manufacturing.

Media Contact

Natalie DeRatt / Carmen & Grace Communications / (828) 280-1910 /