Kayaking means a lot of things to a lot of people, to some it brings the best experience on the water while taking in nature. White water kayaking will require different skills than the leisure kayaking trip on the lake. White water is done on rapidly moving water. It requires skills of high maneuverability, the ability to remain calm and enjoy the adrenaline rush.
These kayaks are designed differently than recreational kayaks. They have rounded hulls, a shallow flare, softer chines, and a rocker. This makes it shorter than the other types of kayaks. A whitewater kayaks are designed in a unique way to reduce the surface of the craft that is in contact with water.
Design features of White water kayaks:
- Rocker: Rocker is the curve of the kayak that raises the bow and stern out of the water.
- Chines: The edges of the yak that run below the water line
- Volume: This is used to size the kayaks. For whitewater kayaks they range from 45-95 gallons. Higher the volume the higher it sits in the water which cause it it resurface faster
- Displacement Hull: Feature a fully or semi-curved bottom helps with the push of the water
- Planing Hull: Planing hulls have flat bottoms. This allows the kayak to skim over the surface of the water
- Boof: A combination of paddle stroke and hip thrust to help the kayak over obstacles by raising the bow of the kayak. This is done usually during ledge, waterfalls and running drops.
Skills needed for white water
Since you will be coming in contact with obstacles in water from time to time, you need to be an experienced kayaker. Recreational or sit on top kayaking on flat water is not as involved compared to white water kayaking. Here you will be having something new to learn as you move across the river, from turn to turn or obstacle to obstacle.
There are things you can do in white water that you do not do in recreational such as playing in a roll, surfing a wave or dropping into water. It brings a new adrenaline rush that one can learn with each journey. You will need to be very skillful and quick in making decisions as you move your kayak around on the water.
Extra skills are needed because you will be required to learn how to keep in control of your yak at every moment. When it starts to tip you need to be ready to stable the yak in currents. Knowing how to eskimol roll is another excellent skill that will give you more confidence to help you make progress on white water faster. There is a myth that at some point in your kayaking adventure you will lose your roll, this does not have to be true if you keep practicing and master the technique.
If you flip over you will need to capsize your kayak with your body motion or paddle. You can learn this lesson for white water indoors; say in a pool where it is warm and friendly. This would be very helpful so that when it happens on the water it will be second nature to roll back.
White water kayaking helmet is different from the one used for flat water. It is an essential kayaking gear given the rocky nature of white water rivers. You must put on a helmet that fully protects your head.
It must be made from very durable materials that will guarantee your safety. The outer shell should be hard enough to provide the maximum protection in case you come in contact with a rock. And the inner lining should be thicker so it offer the necessary cushion for your head.
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White water kayaking is not a simple skill you can learn in one day. It is a long process that requires hard work and determination. Below are some essential skills required for your safety and enjoyment of the sport.
- Remain calm
- This is an important aspect when it comes to white water kayaking and throughout the journey. Be relaxed even when you are almost flipping over or coming very close to the rocks.
- Head for the exit
- If you get upside down, protect your face quickly
- Tap at the bottom of your kayak to make your kayaking partner aware your okay
- Look for a cockpit rim.
- Place your hands on the cockpit and move your body off the boat.
- Play the sweeps
- Touch the paddle blade to unwind your torso to sweep the paddle and move it slowly from water.
- Need strength to roll
- As long ad you can hold a paddle and are flexible enough to rotate your torso you will be able to roll. So do stretches like sideways bends and stay flexible.
White water kayaking is a new water sport that is gaining popularity. This is mainly due to the rush and enjoyment that it brings. Don’t be left out; learn all of the tricks of the trade and mostly stay safe. Remember stay calm and enjoy the ride.