July 18, 2018

Davis & Floyd’s D. Mack Kelly, Jr., PE, PLS, CFM – Elite Kayaker

At Davis & Floyd, we take pride in designing sustainable projects such as parks, athletic fields, recreational areas, fishing piers, and canoe/kayak launches to help people enjoy South Carolina’s beautiful natural resources. Outside of work, we have fun using these facilities with our families and friends.

One of our senior project managers, D. Mack Kelly, Jr., PE, PLS, CFM (Mack), really loves kayaking year-round, especially in October and November. In fact, he is a member of Greenville Sea Kayakers’ elite 1,000-Mile Club – in 2015, he paddled 155 days totaling 1,015 miles on Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, and Lake Hartwell!

In 2012, Mack started kayak racing and typically attends 4-5 races per year. He states, “It is great exercise. I can burn about 1,000 calories when training for a 6-mile race.” Mack has participated in more than 25 races, placing in most of them and receiving 21 medals. He won the Southeastern Paddlesport Points Championship – Male Open Recreational Kayak Division, was the 2014 Male Open Division Paddlefest Champion (1st in all boat classes and ages), and was the 2015 Southeastern Paddlesports Points Champion – Male Sea Kayak. He won a race in the Beaufort/Port Royal Paddle Battle in which dolphins swam and jumped ahead of him!

According to Mack, his most dangerous race was the Ocean Course at Tybee Island, where he broke his kayak while crashing into ocean waves and had to be taken ashore by a rescue boat.

Because most races are far away, Mack usually has help preparing for them. His diligent “pit crew” consists of his wife, sons, and father, who often leave at 4 AM to arrive at a 10 AM race.

Mack admits his most embarrassing race was when he showed up late and misread the start time. His father was helping him bring the kayak to the dock when the start gun was shot. When Mack finally got in the water, nobody was in sight. He took off like a bullet and his kayak popped out the water as he rushed to catch up. He finished 3rd – only 2 minutes behind the 1st place boat. A great finish to a difficult start!

During his kayaking treks, Mack has seen deer and black bear swimming as well as all kinds of fish, birds, turtles, beaver, etc.

Over the years, he has helped approximately 75 people learn to kayak. He states that there are three things to remember:

• Use a life vest or be laid to rest.
• Hydrate or diedrate.
• Use clothing for sunscreen, not lotions, as much as you can. Sun protection is a must. Lotion on anything more than your face or head makes everything very slippery. Wear paddle gloves to prevent blisters and sunburn.

Mack uses Davis & Floyd’s kayak launch at Keowee-Toxaway State Park to access one of his favorite places to paddle in the Eastatoee River backwaters. He describes, “It is almost like being immersed in a scene from ‘The Last of the Mohicans’.”