Pilot a Kayak through Rough Waters

Kirsten Curtis |

Are you down for slicing through the rapids without taking a bath, and wanting to huck? –(the act of running a waterfall)

Well then brave the rapids, bob and weave your way through with these tips from Andy Hinton, a head guide at Southeastern Expeditions in Georgie and Toa Berman an extreme kayaker.

Map your route

If you’re not with a guide, survey the water before shoving off, and make a mental note of calm water chutes, as these help whisk you through and hazards such as large rocks and fallen limbs.

Also try to identify eddies –A place in the river, often behind an obstruction or inside a sharp turn, where the water reverses and flows upstream. Eddies are a good place to pause, rest or boat scout. These counter current pools gather behind obstructions and can help you control your speed and direction.

Take the helm

As you enter the kayak, slide your legs all the way to the front, placing the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. Your legs should bow, with your knees bracing the craft’s top inner wall. Place your butt in the seat and your hips in the hip pads.

You should feel as if you’re wearing the kayak, keep your posture strong and body slightly forward to gain power.

Paddle properly

Don’t rely only on your biceps for power; instead paddle from your torso (great workout for your abdomen). Hold the paddle with your hands apart by a shoulder-width, aiming for a 90-degree elbow angle.

Reach with the paddle as far forward as possible and pull until it passes your knee. The first 30% of the stroke applies the most forward momentum.

Bob and Weave

To catch an eddy, try to position your kayak so you can enter at an angle, otherwise the eddy’s flow may tip your ride. If the eddy is to your left, bank the boat by lifting your right knee while pushing down with your left butt cheek (or vice versa).

Then enter it using a hard forward stroke- make use of this method to connect the dots on your way to calmer water.

-Alice Paulse


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