Beginner's Info 

Most of you were probably introduced to whitewater from a really enthusiastic friend who couldn’t stop raving about how much fun whitewater is.  They took you out on the water in a hand-me-down kayak and the necessary gear and attempted to teach you to wet-exit, t-rescue, or maybe even roll.

Maybe they took you down the river, and went after you every time you bailed out of your boat.  It was fun, yet you clearly weren’t having as much fun as your friend.

Here are some ways to start enjoying kayaking almost right away.

take a clinic:

You may think that it’s not worth the money, but if you get the right clinic with the right instructor, you can learn so much more over the course of a weekend, than you would in a couple of weeks with your friends.  Not only that, but you will learn concepts the proper way, and not pick up some of your buddies’ bad habits.

choose the right boat:

People talk about “the best boat to learn in”, or the “perfect beginner’s boat”.  There is no such thing.  The best boat to learn in is the one that works best for you.  Also, you want to choose a boat that conforms to the type of boating you plan on doing.  If you live near the Ottawa River for example, you might want to try a river-running/playboat or full-on playboat, vice a creekboat.  Buying a boat is like trying on a pair of pants, different styles fit different body types.  The only way to really know which boat you’ll enjoy the most is to demo, demo, demo.  For a first boat, you are looking for something that is light, comfortable, and easy to roll.  You can rent boats from shops, or your can borrow boats from your friends.  Some shops will demo a boat for an afternoon at no cost, but if you want to use it for a weekend, you’ll have to pay a rental fee.  Shops will also bring demo boats to winter pool sessions in order to try and sell them.

make sure your boat is outfitted properly:

The difference between whether you are comfortable and secure in your kayak and whether your boat is outfitted properly.  If you are loose in your boat, then you spend more time compensating and less time perfecting skills.  If you are uncomfortable, then you are not having fun.

perfect your roll:

The best way to advance your kayaking skills quickly is to master your roll.  If you know you can roll up every time in flat, moving or swirly water, then you will be more willing to try and run more rapids.  This will allow you to focus on other skills needed to navigate your way through a rapid.  You will also spend less time in the water after a swim, thus doubling your “Fun” time with your friends.  The perfect time to work on and practice your roll is during the winter in your local pool.  Rolling is an art in itself, and you must focus on perfecting your hip-snap to a point where you never miss a roll again.  One trick is to hang on to the edge of the pool and flip over, then snap back up as fast as you can.  You can do this over and over without a paddle and without the fear of having to pull your skirt.

find boating friends who are enthusiastic and keen:

And go out with them as often as you can.  It’s contagious!