In my experience, the rescue itself tends to be quite fast even for beginners. But as you say, it can of course be tuned by a number of small details.
There are two task which can really slow down a rescue and can be trained “dry”:
- Getting in position to reach the other kayak.
- Stowing away paddles.
Re. 1. Getting in position to reach the other kayak:
It is extremely easy to “overshoot” when you paddle at an angle towards the other kayak, so you end up passing it at a distance just outside reach. Then you start doing some sculling draws which seem to take for ever. Perhaps you even give up, paddle backwards, turn the kayak a bit and paddle forward for another try. Very time consuming.
This part takes a lot of practice to get right. Partly because the two kayaks are in different relative positions and angles (and wind direction) every time you do it, so it is never exactly the same scenario.
It could be practiced without anyone getting wet. I have thought of an exercise that I have not yet tested:
- The paddlers pair up in teams of two and position themselves with a distance of 10 meter between the kayaks.
- Each pair agree who is the rescuer and who is the victim.
- All paddlers start practicing 360° turns with sweep strokes.
- After a random time, the instructor says “Stop”, and the rescuer must now as fast as possible get his hands on the decklines of the victim’s kayak.
- Rescuer and victim switch roles, and the exercise is repeated.
This exercise will ensure that rescues are attempted from a lot of different start positions. And perhaps some paddlers will do their 360° with more confidence and lean out on their paddle when they know that they have their rescuer standing by…
Re. 2. Stowing away paddles.
There is a lot of fumbling involved with paddles during an rescue. Often, people will let go of the other kayak while stowing the paddles with both hands, and the kayak may drift away. Or they will try to stow their own paddle and the victim’s paddle at the same time, lose one of them, etc.
If you can stow away your paddle using only one hand, and then take another paddle and stow it away using only one hand, this will help immensely. This can be practiced without a partner. This is not only a matter of training, but also of thinking through how you have placed other stuff on your deck, and how you bungees are arranged. Perhaps having a spacer ball on some bungees makes it easier to stow a paddle without using the other hand to lift the bungee.