Critique my Wet Entry 2 - the video

Don’t be gentle, I need to learn.

Things I know already.

  • My brace (hi or low or whatever) is lame, The 1st, 2nd and 3rd flips were all unexpected.
  • I lost my hat, glasses and a shoe.
  • my pump only comes out one side
  • It is easy to lose focus
  • getting cold on a super hot day in a super hot pool is real
  • a moment’s lapse in concentration means you’ve lost your paddle or boat
  • I have a lot to learn about this Heel Hook.
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You are a real trooper! Kudos to you!

You need to tighten your PFD so that it doesn’t ride up over your ears.

For a low brace, your elbows should be facing up. Like putting your hands on the arms of a chair and lifting yourself up.

You got back in your boat and that’s all that really counts.


Within the first 18 seconds I can tell you that your head is going the wrong way.

When you brace (and roll, but let’s not go there yet) you need to drop your head TOWARD the side you’re bracing on. This helps to activate the correct lower body motion and prevents what you’re doing, which is pulling the boat over on top of you and capsizing.

It’s the natural reaction to do it the way you are, and it works to restore balance on land. But you’re not on land so you need to work hard to break that habit.


  • Same thing at 3:45
  • Actual re-entry looked very smooth, just need to work on getting the setup and pack-down time reduced
  • Second attempt, about 6:00, you probably would have snapped a Euro paddle with how much weight/pressure was put on the paddle shaft. Ask me how I know… You should try a more standard rear deck re-entry rather than the heel hook.
  • Love the commentary with your friend!
  • I’m not that familiar with heel hook, but typical paddle float and scramble reentries involve less “climbing” and more floating/kicking your legs to the surface then kicking/swimming forward while pulling the boat under you. Once balanced on top you can rest for a while before continuing.
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He’s practicing this heel hook paddle float re-entry. It works pretty well.


Yes, I’ve posted about my own attempts with this in the past. To this day I don’t know why I can’t get it right, despite having ?mastered? many others. I can only sacrifice so many paddles as well…

Not to make excuses, but much of my body weight is very high up in my shoulders and chest. This isn’t exactly an advantage for any technique where the upper body is so high above the boat.

A low brace with a Greenland paddle is not just slapping the water…it’s more like spreading peanut butter, and using the water surface tension. Sometimes you go into the water and use your body combined with the smooth spreading the peanut butter action. It’s never just a slap.


GPs aren’t that good for the slap style braces. Better with sculling braces or the like where the paddle stays in the water. Agree with comments above about arm positioning. And using a skirt for bracing practice helps, as you could potentially edge or lean further without taking water in cockpit, letting you learn larger braces.

On the re-entries, you don’t really do a heel hook. You are more just climbing in. In heel hook, your body is still in water and you hook a heel up and use the straightening of your leg to lift yourself up. That said, I don’t use (or teach) heel hook for paddlefloat, but do for t-rescues. The standard get on back deck for paddlefloat seems fine for most, and is a step toward working toward a cowboy scramble. The way you are doing it you likely would easily be able to do the standard (non-heel hook) rescue.

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Well done. You got back in on 1 & 2 (that is the objective) and then were just too pooped on 3 - that is real world and definitely it occurs when practicing. Rescues are tiring and I applaud you practicing.

A few observances: 1) When doing repeated practices, why expend the energy to pump out your boat? You are just going to fill it again in minutes. Use that energy during practice sessions to reenter the kayak another time or two. 2) As others said, a sculling* action is more effective with a GP. The low brace scull is much safer than a high brace. Concur with what others wrote about arm/elbow positioning. 3) When using a slap on the low brace (applies to both GP and Euro), make sure the blade is flat on the water. A couple times you knife edged the GP blade into the water with the resultant capsize because the paddle gave you no bracing support. 4) Your are expending lots of energy lifting yourself up to then put your leg directly into the cockpit. You may find it easier to put a leg over the paddle and then shimmy onto the back deck before reentering/sliding into the cockpit & rotating into the seat. 5) Congrats on knowing when you were too tired to continue during a practice session!

*PS - When sculling a paddle, the leading edge should be in a slight climbing angle to create lift. The leading edge is different going forward and backward so you must make that minor adjustment to the paddle to allow the sculling motion to support you.

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I second everything, which was written here. Including the “well done” - not only on the actual rescue, but also on your own analysis of what happened.

A few additional comments.

See the small silicone thingy on my glasses in this picture? It is awesome for kayaking. I get them for free at the store where I buy the glasses.

Head position
There are actually two things you can work on with your head position:

  1. When you edge the kayak, try to keep your head vertical. You are letting your head follow the angle of your upper body.
  2. When you do the brace, bend your head down towards the paddle. You are bending it the opposite way.

What you do seems to work for you, but there are two things you could consider:

  1. Mount the paddlefloat on the paddle before you inflate it. Sometimes, people inflate it so hard that they can’t slip the paddle into it afterwards. This may not be a problem with a GP though.
  2. Secure the paddlefloat to the paddle so it doesn’t accidentally slip off during the rescue. They usually come with some sort of locking system, but it usually doesn’t fit a GP where the lock string will just slide off too. Some GP owners put a piece of string on the paddlefloat with a velcro band at the end, and then they wrap the velcro band around the loom of the GP when attaching the paddlefloat.
    Lars Gram makes a paddlefloat specifically designed for GPs, but his products are only sold in a few shops in the US, as far as I know.

Heel hook
You should not be climbing the side of the kayak in a heel hook rescue. You should much more be “rolling” over the side. This requires your body to be much more parallel to the kayak when you are in the water.
The closer you can keep your body’s mass to the boat, the less pressure you will put on your paddle float. So try to really be glued to the boat with the full length of your body along the boat.

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Wow, thanks for all the comments so far. I’ll try to address them.

Yes, my PFD isn’t fitting correctly. The good news is that I’ve lost 20 lbs since I first bought it. It is almost at the limit of its adjustments. However, last night Lillyflowers really cranked down on the side adjusters and there is some room to give, but then it was really tight! I need to experiment with this some.

How can I avoid putting pressure on the shaft? I had the exact same comments last year when I put up my “traditional” paddle float reentry video, see Critique my Wet Entry . That thread was what led me to the Heel Hook video, which is also referenced now in this thread. I must have watched that a dozen times. He does it so smoothly. I can see that I do accomplish it, but barely.

Later on Peter-CA says “You are more just climbing in. In heel hook, your body is still in water and you hook a heel up and use the straightening of your leg to lift yourself up.”. Allen_Olesen says “You should not be climbing the side of the kayak in a heel hook rescue. You should much more be “rolling” over the side.” Ahhh, those are interesting differences between the video and what I was doing. I need to remember that next time

‘less climbing’ - exactly, that’s also what I was doing wrong last year. I was trying to do that this year, but not very sucessfully. I just couldn’t get my legs up horizontal. More kicking?

I pumped out the boat to both familiarize myself with how my gear is stowed but also to simulate a real world situation, multiple capsizes. I wanted to get tired out and see how my form degraded. However, now that I’ve learned that I should conserve my energy on the next attempt and get more reentries, and less pumping practice.

The strap on my paddlefloat just doesn’t secure it well enough to the shaft. I see there are “greenland” floats out there and I do need to buy one. I can’t find mine and I was using Lillyflower’s float. I fear I forgot to remove it from my boat and it blew off on the highway! Lars’ float looks like a good product, I may get that one. But wow, the price! Limited demand, high price I guess.

Thanks everybody! Hopefully the water will be warm at Lake Umbagog and I’ll practice again. I hate being cold. Dave’s pool was in the high 80s!

Outstanding work! I wish every new kayaker would be as smart.

I saw several things in sequence thru the efforts, some of my comments may be same as above but easier to just write them down.

  1. The brace you use with a GP is a single fast sweep, not a slap. The slap requires the bigger blade of a Euro. I have seen someone who knew how to do it, it was as effective as the slaps the Euro folks in the class were using. Note that the static brace even with a Euro blade may be taught with a bit of motion to it, depends on the coach.

  2. Your brace is not exactly high or low right now, meaning that you have the risk of injuring a joint. For a low brace you need to have your lower arms vertical over the blade, trying for a right angle at your elbow. The back of the blade if a Euro hits the water. For a high brace you should for the moment glue your elbows to your sides and not let them come off there no matter what.

  3. Can’t tell if you are doing this, but the way to hang onto a boat in the water is to keep a leg in it. Hence your hands are free to mess with other things.

  4. Put the paddle float on the blade then inflate. There is often a strap with a clip that helps with this, clip it on before inflating.

  5. For the regular paddle float reentry, come up over the deck further back so you can come up over the deck behind the cockpit. Get into a swimming position and take a big launch that puts your lower chest over the deck. Get a leg onto the shaft first then transfer support to a hand. That puts your legs together to put into the cockpit.If you are tired, which is when bad things are more likely to happen, you may find that the oomph to get yourself over the back deck is enough you don’t have a lot of tries in you. So coming in a little further back to lose an inch of elevation could make it more doable. So practicing literally climbing around on the deck is useful work.

This puts less water into your cockpit as well as reducing the physical effort. If you are really out there you need to do whatever will make it more reliable you get it on the first try.

  1. For the Heel Hook version, you do it from laying on your back in the water with your paddle behind your shoulders or thereabouts. Put the outer leg into the boat, staying on your back, then pull yourself up/in with it via a single fairly fast corkscrew motion. It is wicked fast when you get it right. It has been argued it has a higher likelihood of snapping a paddle, at my size this is not going to be an issue so I will bow to the advice of bigger people.

VERY IMPORTANT note on the heel hook version. More so than the regular entry, wear long pants at least to start. I find this one produces more interesting shin scrapes than the other.

But again, congratulations on this work!!!

What roym said. You get the ‘purchase’ or ‘bite’ from a GP by pushing down and FORWARD (or backward) at the same time. Like spreading peanut butter. Once you get the feel of it it’s awesome.

Besides all that…when in reality do you brace in still water? Braces are more of a modified forward stroke. Especially with a GP.

I have braced holding a position on the surface of the water when the underlying shape became more like a mountain, ie a steep wave passed under.

But agree, it is usually an event in motion.

GPS might have said you were stopped but the water was moving. Thus the boat was “moving” through the water.

Most of my braces in still water are just for fun or practice. Some, however, are necessary to stay upright like when a tired swimmer at the local triathlon hangs on to my boat. Sometimes it’s just a grandson climbing on the boat in the pool.

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Then you likely skull the blade of the GP. Not so much a brace.

Not sure of the terminology. Is it accurate to say we GP users brace by sculling?


Static brace means the blade is not moving, mostly.
The gp brace l saw was a single stroke, seems to line up with what others have said.
Sculling in my mind means stroking back and forth, multiple times.

This is what I was trying to do.

If only I had watched the video before heading out. You can clearing see him scooping, not slapping, like I was.

And thanks for the kind words Celia! I’m not a newbie, just still learning. I got my first sea kayak about 15 years ago. Learned wet exit/entry at a lesson on my first time on the water. Fast forward to last year when I decided to see what I still remembered!

And yes, leg was inside the boat.

The clip doesn’t work too well with a Greenland paddle, nor is it difficult to insert the tiny blade into the float.