Best shortcuts?

What would you say was the single best thing for increasing your enjoyment, upping your skill level, etc. Something that got you doing what you wanted sooner or better than you’d have done without?

For me, rolling as it improves everything else.

I’d put lessons right up there too, except I still haven’t taken any…

Paddle float recovery

– Last Updated: May-16-06 7:33 PM EST –

Do I win?



It's true. It's the FIRST thing I learned when I moved from a rec. yak to a WW yak. Before I ever took my WW boat or Sea kayak on the water, I took them to the pool and learned to roll. By making a capsize "no big deal", I now have the confidence to paddle year round, miles from shore, during "small craft advisories" and up to class III whitewater. Having a solid roll has taken the fear and anxiety OUT of paddling and has been the KEY to pursuing skill developement with CONFIDENCE (for me.)

Making the change
from recreational-style kayaks to performance-oriented open water boats.


they made my paddle blades huge.

Good outfitting
I transplanted a set of thighbraces from a whitewater boat into my touring boat. Made a huge difference – I could feel connected without having to tense up my lower body.

The biggest difference…
More exposure to bigger, faster, rougher water. When I paddle alone (which is more often than not) I simply work on my river running skills. I’ll pick the roughest white water I can find on the river, and just ferry across it, practice catching eddies and peeling out, etc. My local rivers have become so routine that I just make up stuff to do. I try to catch the smallest eddies I can find. I’ll make new lines through the rapids, or run new slots, etc.

Paddle, paddle, paddle. Paddling with new people and people better than me helps, too.

Having a good roll never hurts, either…


Greenland Paddle
I normally use a euro paddle but after a few weeks practicing sculling braces and rolls with a borrowed Greenland stick, I was able to pick the euro back up and brace, scull, and roll better than ever before. It really made a fast and notable difference in what I am able to do while in a kayak.

That’s it!!
You hit the nail on the head!!! That’s what I’ve been doing lately…“without having to tense up my lower body”. I get out after a great paddle and my knees are all screwed up. Can’t seem to get the configuration just right. Feels like I have to hold my legs up and cocked at an angle in order to “wear” the boat and after awhile it wreaks havoc on my knees. How did you re-outfit with the whitewater thigh braces? Any recommendations on which braces to use? I don’t do whitewater (yet :)) so I’d be open to any ideas. Thanks for your post…kinda thought I must be doing something wrong.


Winter of DVDs
Nigel Foster #1-6

B Reitz Foward Stroke

EJ’s Rolling and Bracing

W Horodowich’s Sea Kayak University: 1)Rescues and 2)Surf Zone

Derek Hutchinson’s Beyond the Cockpit

Very informational. Watch and watch again. This is the way I learn best. See one, do one, teach one.


– Last Updated: May-17-06 8:09 PM EST –

largest gains anyone can possiably make, will happen by going to at least one decent symposium a year. More knowlege is transfered at a symposium than anywhere a short amount of time......any new techniques for rescue or being rescued are there plus many skills are taught that might be differant than some people only imagined them.

Best Wishes and safe paddling

Perception used to make 1-piece interchangeable thighbraces for some of their kayaks. I ordered one from a dealer, trimmed it to fit, and attached it with stanless machine screws. I later set up another boat using seperate thigh hooks from a different Perception kayak.

I’d suggest sitting in as many boats as you can to get ideas about what feels good. Touring folks can learn a lot about putfitting from the whitewater folks.

Other things that may help with leg support are extending & building up the seat base for thigh support, better hip pads, padding where your knees touch the inside of the hull, heel pads, and going from footpegs to a bulkhead footrest.

No “Short Cuts…”

– Last Updated: May-17-06 10:32 AM EST –

one can only go as fast (or slow) as one can. I read as much as can (to figure out what I don't know and need to know), and then go out and "do" and "learn" and have a blast along the way.

For some, "do and "learn" involve lessons, mentoring, etc. Cool. But you still progress as you progress.

I guess I don't see a destination. Just having fun. So there is no "short cut" when there isn't a place to arrive to nor a time frame in mind.


reading this site
I’ve learned more in a couple weeks reading this site and following up on terms and techniques that were unfamiliar to me, than I learned in over 20 years of paddling canoes. Whenever somebody mentions a term or technique that I don’t know, I Google it to see what I can learn about it. I’ve got some books on the way, and may well look into taking a class or several. It’s amazing what you can pick up just by reading the threads and articles on this site. (Don’t forget the articles! There are some good ones buried here.) THANKS folks!

Go play in the surf!
Get your helmet. Find a stretch of beach away from any inlets or rocks and have a ball. You’ll quickly learn new skills and have a lot of fun trying not to eat too much sand.

Getting in over my head
In a controlled enviornment, that is.

  1. rolling – “in over my head” literally ;o)
  2. surfing
  3. narrow and tippy boats

    I found I learn better and faster when I’m challenged. Something to do with “pushing the envelope” (of my own comfort zone).

Don’t go halfway.

– Last Updated: May-17-06 12:41 PM EST –

Get the best gear you can, take lessons and immerse yourself in paddling. I don't know if it qualifies technically as a shortcut, but it is the straight line approach. As we all know a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. (beginner-expert being the two points in this case).


Thanks for the tips
Angstrom. I’ll look into both of those suggestions. Maybe I can just put in larger footpegs?? Hmm…have to ask some of the locals what they’ve done. I trust our local shop as well and since they sell both touring and whitewater they should be able to help. Thanks again!

Generous friends. good paid instructors
this make learning easier for me. given my total lack of talent for paddling i never would have learned what I learned without the help of generous freinds who have been my teachers, and great instructors, some of whom I have actually paid money too.

Then it’s all about time on the water, with time in breaking waves and currents of 3 knots and above being very valuable as far as learning experience goes. I am much more self feeding now. but will always pay instructors and be glad of friends, and want to pass on what I have learned.

What Holmes Said