My fellow student here at New York university Anouk Govil has taught me so much about kayaking since we first met back in 2016. Anouk is from Connecticut where he and his family would go out on the water most weekends. Because of this Anouk is something of a genius when it comes to kayaking and I have been fortunate enough to have plenty of lessons with him. Each weekend we’ll take our kayaks out to the Hudson River to learn about this awesome watersport and I have massively fallen in love with it. If you have an interest in kayaking then here are some of the key skills which you are going to need.
You will get the basics pretty quickly when you first start going kayaking and you’ll also see very quickly just how sensitive the kayak is to every movement. It is not just paddling which will change the direction of the kayak but also your body movement and the current itself. The first step is to learn how the kayak moves and how just a slight paddle can have such an impact on the direction of the kayak itself.
There may be times when you are in the kayak that you will need to make a sharp turnaround and this can be completed by digging in your paddle on either side of you, and pushing large amounts of water forward. When you complete this it is important that you dig your paddle as deep into the water as you are able to, so that you can spin around in one swift motion.
There are two approaches which you can take if you flip upside down in the kayak, depending on whether or not you have a spraydeck. A spray deck is a piece of material which goes around your waist and is then attached to the hole which you sit in, this prevents water from entering the kayak. If you are wearing a spraydeck and you flip over then you can flip yourself back around again with some body strength and a swift paddle movement into the air, alternatively you can quickly detach the spraydeck and leave the kayak. If you do not have a spraydeck then you won’t be able to flip over as the kayak will have water inside it. Should this happen you need to slide out of the kayak, keeping a hold of it so that it doesn’t get swept away, get to a shallow spot and empty the water in the kayak before flipping it over and getting back in. If you are in deep water then keep your head inside the kayak from underneath, here you will be able to breathe until you find a safe spot.
A really cool trick which you can use if you are kayaking with others is to connect the boats together in order to help someone out of the water. Take the oar of the person next to you and they will take yours, in doing this you can create a chain of kayaks which are strong enough for someone to walk over.