How To Use A Whitewater Kayak Paddle
Learning how to use a whitewater kayak paddle is an important part of your being able to kayak successfully through rapids in rivers, and this increases the value of the sport as a whole. You will need some practice before you go kayaking in whitewater areas. The following advice will help you learn how to use a whitewater kayak paddle correctly.
- First, wearing your life jacket, put your kayak in at any local lake or pond. Calm waters like these are great places to learn the basic stroke and ways to maneuver your small craft.
- Next, begin practicing the paddling motion. Hold the paddle out in front of your body as you sit in the kayak, with your hands at least shoulder-width apart, using an overhand grip on the paddle. Then, reach one hand forward and down, so that the blade of that side dips into the water, and pull the other hand back and up. Pull back through the water with the front hand, resulting in a nice stroke. The boat should start to turn to the other side at this point, and it should move forward.
- Your other hand should be forward, but still high. Dip that side's paddle blade down into the water and pull it back. This is how you use the paddle, alternating strokes. Notice that after each side's stroke, the boat should turn some to the opposite side. That means you will have to quickly stroke on the other side to correct the kayak.
- Once you have gotten the rhythm down, practice paddling faster. This will be key in whitewater rivers that may require you to change direction quickly to avoid running into rocks and other hazards.
- Practice sharply cutting the kayak. Paddle hard and consistently on the same side, and it should quickly turn to the opposite side. Practice this on both sides, as you will need to be able to turn fast in the river.
- Once you have gotten all of this down, wearing a helmet and the life jacket, practice in the river, starting with calm waters. Work your way up through rapids requiring various skill levels until you are able to kayak in whitewater rapids. Try to have someone with you in another kayak for safety reasons, and employ the tactics that you have been practicing. If you do this, you will have a great time on the water! Once you have gotten the correct usage down, you can have a blast using your kayak to navigate through whitewater rapids in any river.