Today I met up with chris for alittle white water kayaking on a local oregon favorite. Met this morning at AlderCreek kayak and Canoe, talked about the game plan, and then headed off to meet again at the river. We decided on the Clackamas river. The run was Fish Creek to Bob's hole, class III. The river was running at just over 1000 cfs which is a great level. This was the third time on this section. The first time some of the guys from the shop thought that I might like it at 6000 cfs. I had never paddled on 5-6 foot standing waves. Most of the waves on this particular day were about two feet.
I wanted to write just for a moment on technique and what I am currently working on.
Been focusing on my strokes and probably the most important part is keeping the blade working in some way while on a rapid or in white water. This goes for sea kayaks or small white water boats.
When ever you are paddling it is important to keep the kayak paddle engaged on the water. This does two things. It keeps the boat speed up and gets your body into action. I also try to work off the front of the boat when surfing and only use the rudder just for a moment. If there is to much pressure on the blade when you are ruddering then you are losing alot of momentum.
The negative side to keeping your paddle in the water to long is that it can easily hit rocks under you in shallow areas or get pushed by the current if you are not ready. The bottom-line. An active paddle keeps the light bulb in your head ON! If you stop paddling when you are gripping on the paddle shaft... then your light is out!
I have also been playing with the idea of using the paddle to push my boat onto a surging piece of water with a small amount of boat edge way from the feature. The water is able to push under the boat and the paddle in the water gives me support. When applying pressure to the blade I also engage the same side foot and press into the boat for extra power which stabalizes the stroke. This is very helpful when paddling out through surf at the beach or on boils in the river. Basically, I am pushing the bottom of the boat onto what ever feature might be in front of me.
Do you think the legs are important in moving the boat through the water? DO you forget to use them? This could be part of the reason you feel unstable or tired in the shoulders, back, or arms.