Using your head in whitewater
Whitewater boating is all about edge control, but learning to lean the boat to work the currents is a balancing act that often leaves students frustrated—and wet. Whitewater kayak instructor Don Jamieson teaches an intuitive route to edging enlightenment: Look where you want to go.
The Eddy Turn
A successful eddy turn involves crossing the eddy line at about 45 degrees, then using the current to spin you downstream. Begin by looking at the spot where you want to exit the eddy. Paddle to that point and then look downstream, leading with your chin and following through until you’re staring at the back of your boat. Your whole body will twist downstream, lifting the upstream edge of the boat off the water. Perfect. Use the same process for entering an eddy.
Getting from one side to the other of a rushing river hinges on a proper exit from your eddy. Start by facing upstream a couple of strokes back from the top of the eddy. Angle the boat 45 degrees to the current and paddle hard toward the eddy line. As soon as your bow hits the line, change your focus to your intended destination. Again, lead with your chin, with your whole body facing the way you’re looking. Keep your eyes on your goal all the way across, adjusting your boat angle to keep the bow pointed upstream.
In a standard C-to-C roll, you set up with your paddle along the hull and your body flat against the front deck. For Jamieson’s method, bring your torso out to the side, perpendicular to the boat. Turn your head toward the surface, then roll normally with your paddle sweep and hip flick, bringing your head up last.