tofino kayak - fundamentals of good paddling

Tofino kayaking: The Fundamentals of Good Paddling

by Dan Lewis, Tofino

Many of you in Tofino have seen skilled sea kayakers go cruising by, every stroke seeming effortless. Their boats seem like an extension of their bodies and appear to be commanded by their will more than by any visible techniques. While this may look natural it's really the result of sound fundamentals.

Good kayak instructors, like all good teachers, use what is called a "teaching progression." The skills which give fluidity to a paddler are broken down into components to be learned separately, the mastery of one skill prepares you for the next. Think of each individual skill as a building block – once you've learned how to hold a paddle properly you are ready to learn how to use it in the water.

«So let's begin –
have you ever done a wet exit?»

The greatest fear for novice paddlers is getting stuck upside down in their boat. This is probably why many people avoid practicing wet exits. Unfortunately this means they get stuck in their skills progression. Practice in a pool or warm lake with the help of a friend. The critical habit to develop is coming to the surface holding onto both your paddle and your boat. Letting go of either in a real life situation can get you into big trouble, especially on a windy day in Tofino.

Practice edging your boat while cruising on flat water. Lock your knees, shift your weight till you're balanced on one side of your butt, then lift the deck with the opposite knee. Now paddle forward, keeping the boat on edge. It will be hard to do at first, but very quickly you will build new muscles and become more comfortable in this awkward and precarious position.

Navigation is another example of skills progression. First learn to estimate your speed in a variety of conditions. Do this by timing yourself paddling a known distance, then calculate your speed. This skill is essential during crossings, so be sure to master it beforehand.

You can take any basic kayaking skill, analyze it this way, then practice, practice, practice to fine tune your technique. Make it a part of your seakayak routine and have fun doing it.

Dan Lewis and Bonny Glambeck operate Rainforest Kayak Adventures, a Tofino sea kayak company in Tofino and Clayoquot Sound. Visit their website or call them at 1-877-422-WILD
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© 2002-2014 copyright Tofino Time Magazine in Tofino Canada
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Tofino sea kayak operator Dan Lewis writes about the fundamentals of paddling and basic seakayak skills in Clayoquot Sound.

tofino time may 2002

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