Year Inducted: 2017
Years Active: 1974-2000
Home Base: USA
Bill Masters is the Steve Jobs of the modern whitewater kayak industry. He took kayaking from the club days of fiberglass boats being manufactured in limited numbers and designs in the backyards and garages of America to the worldwide exposure it enjoys today. The pioneer’s pioneer, Bill’s vision and commitment to excellence greatly influenced paddlesports from design and manufacturing to the evolution of the sport itself. He has directly influenced every major kayak brand in the industry.
Bill graduated from Clemson University in the early ‘70’s with an electrical engineering degree, kayaking as his passion and an entrepreneurial drive to chart his own course through life. In 1975 he started Perception Kayaks in Liberty, SC moving from fiberglass kayaks and canoes to rotationally molding boats in cross-linked polyethylene.
Bill made significant advances to the methodology of rotational molding as applied to kayaks, allowing quality kayaks to be available worldwide for an affordable cost.
Perception led the way in getting kayaks into the hands of the masses. Before Perception there was no retail network for kayaks. Bill established the first network of kayaking field reps and supported events like whitewater rodeos, freestyle competitions, sea kayak symposiums and river celebration gatherings like Gauley Festival to get the word out about the joys of paddling and rivers. He was committed to growing the sport of whitewater paddling by identifying people with talent, skill and passion for their sport. He established the brand most influential in the development of whitewater kayaking and the network that served as the foundation of the kayak culture we take for granted today.