You are already determined to go kayaking and you have chosen your kayaking route. But before you start paddling, determine which hand is right and which is left. This is no joke at all. The trouble with correctly identifying the body is quite common and occurs, for example, in people with crossed lateralization. It also takes them a little longer to learn movements that require coordination of both sides of the body and also cooperation with another person – which is important when rowing.
Therefore, once you decide to go rafting, learn more about the technical issues related to kayaking. Proper paddling technique and watching the water will ensure that your rafting trip is safe.
How to properly board a kayak
Remember not to get into a kayak that is partially standing on the shore. The kayak will be unstable, easily swaying from side to side. You could damage it or cause it to capsize right at the start.
The easiest way to get into the kayak is to paddle on the bottom (that’s why in the text What to bring to the rafting trip we recommend taking sports shoes to the water). Set the kayak on the water, along the river bank, with the bow against the current. The first person to get in is the one sitting at the back because he/she will be steering the kayak. The second person holds the kayak, and when his/her companion/companion is already seated, he/she can start boarding.
To board, lower your body’s center of gravity slightly and grab the side of the cockpit with your hands. Use your right hand on the right side and your left hand on the left side. This way you will stabilize the kayak. Slide one leg in, putting it in the middle of the kayak, on its axis. Then sit on the seat, and put the other leg over the side of the kayak.
You can also help yourself with the paddle by placing it across the cockpit, at the front of the cockpit. Leaning forward, grasp the paddle and the cockpit rim on the left and right sides simultaneously with your hands. Next, insert one leg into the kayak, sit on the seat, and bring the other leg inside.
First Kayak Trip – Holding the oar correctly
Correct paddling technique is the basis for safe canoeing. It also makes the canoeing trip a pleasant relaxation and not a burden for the body.
To make paddling as effortless as possible, it is important to do it the right way. Start by gripping the paddle properly. Spread your arms and lift the paddle above your head. If you hold it correctly, a right angle is formed between your left and right forearms. You should maintain the same forearm position while rowing.
The choice of paddling technique depends on the type of water you are paddling. In our entry, we’ll focus on lakes and rivers – because these are the routes we support in Kajaki Sękowski rentals.
First kayak trip on the lake
For inexperienced people, swimming even on a smooth lake can be a challenge. This is where the ability to swim straight ahead will be most useful. On a river, it is also useful, but to a much lesser extent.
When you get into the kayak on the lake shore, you will feel the moment when the water starts to lift the boat. Then start paddling. On a lake (Hemlock and Canadice) try to keep the bow of the kayak perpendicular to the line of the waves, not parallel.
Sail straight ahead, pulling the paddle from the bow to the back (stern) of the kayak. Stronger paddling on one side is sufficient to give direction. On a large body of water, it is important that these strokes are even, steady, possibly with a slight correction. When swimming straight ahead, it is not only the arms that propel the canoe – the whole torso also helps. Pay attention, however, that the center of gravity of the body does not lean out beyond the outline of the boat. Remember, that the kayak loaded with equipment is also more difficult to steer.
After finishing your float on the lake, bring the bow of the kayak perpendicular to the shore, efficiently lower the kayak and quickly pull it onto the sand.
First kayak trip on the river
When you are kayaking down a river, you will need mainly the technique of counteracting and stopping the kayak – the opposite of what you need on a lake. Here, the current carries the boat by itself (e.g. on a canoeing trip from Borsk), so what you need to focus on is avoiding obstacles or fast braking.
Contouring is pulling the paddle from the back of the kayak to the front (bow). If, for example, you want to quickly turn right, avoiding a stone or a lying tree branch, you contour from the right. Put the paddle blade deep into the water and make an even arc. The more force you use, the more efficiently you will make the turn. The paddle blade should be positioned so that it engulfs the water towards the kayak.
Using this technique alternately and quickly (once from the right, once from the left) you can stop the kayak. This will be useful in a situation when you notice an obstacle too late and want to avoid collision with it.
By the way – the river current, bypassing the obstacle, usually forms a V shape. The blade of the letter V indicates the location of the obstacle. The arrangement of currents on the surface of the river is a reflection of the shape of the bottom, the location of obstacles, and the outline of the bank. Therefore, it is worth watching it very carefully.
When you finish rafting on the river, make a 180-degree turn. Then approach the shore slowly and parallel (not straight ahead).
Easy routes for beginners and instructor assistance
Kayak paddling routes that are suitable for beginners and families with children should be relaxed and without obstacles. These are low-lying rivers with wide beds, shallow bottoms, and calm currents. There are plenty of places to stop on the banks of rivers – even if you make a mistake and your kayak flips over, you can easily get to shore, pour out the water and continue on your way.
In the case of a large group of novice kayakers you can additionally get instructions at the rental points on how to hold the paddles, get on and off the kayak, as well as how to jump up and swim to shore properly. This will help the group get used to kayaking, relieve stress, and acquire the basic technical skills needed for your first kayak trip.
If you need more information about paddling and kayaking techniques, we would be happy to provide you with additional information.
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