Charlie Walbridge has been actively involved in whitewater as a racer, equipment and safety technique innovator, business owner (Wildwater Designs Ltd. 1972-1995), instructor, author, conservation advocate, speaker, expert witness and avid paddler for more than forty years.
Approachable, humble, and always friendly, Charlie has probably contributed more than any other single person to promote river safety and develop standards and rescuer techniques. Charlie’s work has saved countless lives and kept rivers open and accessible to those who wished to assume personal responsibility and risk. His work, although focused primarily in the U.S., is imitated and known worldwide.
• Involved in the development of rescue equipment design since the mid-1970’s including throw line rescue bags, pfds, swift water rescue harnesses, and swiftwater tow tethers
• Member (and often chair) of numerous safety committees, and presenter at numerous safety symposia since the late 1970’s. Has worked extensively with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), American Canoe Association (ACA), and American Whitewater (AW) in promoting river safety
• Chronicler ( and author) of whitewater accidents since 1979 including the highly respected River Safety Task Force Newsletter and River Safety Reports published by ACA. Author of numerous books and articles including the Whitewater Rescue Manual and River Safety Anthology
• Instructor of numerous whitewater rescue and safety courses
• Recipient of numerous awards including AW’s “Legacy Award” (2004), ACA’s “Legends of Paddling Award” (2001) and “Howie Labrant Award” (1983), and the USCG Anheuser-Busch “Schooner Award” (1982) for outstanding contributions to water safety
• Author of numerous river guides including Wild Water West Virginia, Appalachian Whitewater Volume 1 & 2, and other manuals and books including Boatbuilders Manual, Outfitting Your Canoe, Outfitting Your Kayak, and Knots for Paddlers