A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Drowning less often than previously

One of the key tricks to learn as a kayaker is Rolling - that is, self-righting after you capsize. It generally relies on two things: first, something of a base against which to push, and second, a strong hip-flick. The hip-flick is not too difficult to get the hang of, and will allow you to self-right using a nearby rock/side-of-the-pool/someone else's kayak. However, the base component relies upon one of these being available - which generally isn't the case - or on the ability to create base of your own with the paddle. This is not an easy thing to get the knack of: in order to pull it off while upside down you have to (after not panicking, which is of course the first danger) bring your paddle to your side, lean forward, sweep it outwards, and using your whole torso pull it against the water - all while performing a slow yet powerful hip-flick. I'm probably making it sound harder than it actually is; the point is that it takes a lot of practice to get the hang of. By "practice" I mean repeatedly and deliberately capsizing yourself, while going through the motions, with someone else on hand to dead-man-save you once you need to come up for air.

I've been practising in this way each Tuesday evening for the last few months, and eventually, last night, I performed my first unassisted roll. It was amazing how clean the whole thing felt - just one motion through the water, and before I knew it I was upright. I only managed it twice, in about thirty attempts over the course of the evening; that said, there were a couple of times where I was very close to getting up and only tipped again at the last second.

Hopefully over the next few weeks I'll turn it into a knack and be able to self-right automatically and reliably. After I finished practising for the evening, I spent a while watching over another guy who was better at it than I but still not 100% reliable with his rolls. "Dead-man-saving" someone - that is, righting someone in a kayak when you're not - is actually pretty easy, you just have to get your centre of mass on top of their kayak in order to provide downward force for the roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment