Are you ready to take your kayaking to the next level? Good - because Headwaters Kayak Youtube Channel wants to teach you how in their Advanced Paddling Lesson Kayaking 102 tutorial video. These skills build on the "Kayaking 101" that Headwaters Kayak walked us through previously. Here’s a summary of what to work on and how to nail the techniques covered. But for best results - study the video!
Engaging the lower body
The key to fully engaging the lower body while kayaking and deploying more complex maneuvers and strokes is complete connection with the kayak. Start by dialing in hip, knee and other cockpit padding as well as foot braces. You want as much of your lower body connecting as tightly with the kayak as possible. Once that’s established, isolating the lower body from the upper, being loose in the hips and pressing into the hull are all key.
The first thing to discover about proper bracing is positioning. The orientation of the power face of the paddle blade and the position of one's knuckles in line with the blades of the paddle are key. All of this combined with a well-maintained paddler's box will allow for perfect bracing. Low bracing is done with the back face of the paddles blades and high bracing is done with the front, power face. High bracing is often used for big reaches.
To begin to understand edging the kayaker must understand primary and secondary stability. When wobbling the boat back and forth, feel the second, less stable edge available to balance on. A critical piece is understanding the difference between edging your kayak and leaning your kayak. To avoid leaning, always keep your nose over your naval, or shoulders over hips, maintaining your center of gravity. If your shoulders fall to either side, you are leaning. Elbows versus elbows up or elbows down.
The draw stroke is perfect for falling in line and positioning yourself next to another kayaker. Engage the blade by pulling towards you (face your work is a phrase Headwaters likes to use), then when the paddle blade reaches the edge of the kayak, flip it and slice the blade 90 degrees away from the boat and back in position to begin again. Next try sculling. Let the blade face you and swipe it side to side like you're spreading peanut butter. This is also referred to as climbing.
When done in different positions along the boat, think four quadrants in relation to stern and bow, right and left, the boat can be moved in any direction. Lastly, remember to plant the blade in all these actions. Imagine the blade is planted in butter and your lower body pivoting around the paddle is actually maneuvering the boat rather than the paddle blade face itself.
Finally, combine all the strokes and skills together!