An intermediate to advanced Great Lakes sea kayaking event
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What we love to teach – Body Trim in your kayak

08/15/2011

Each coach has a particular schtick, or thing that they like to teach students. Sometimes it is just a subtle approach to a common topic, like t-rescues, or positioning strokes, something that they were probably given by another really good coach.

This series What We Love to teach from the Gales coaches will outline what each coach loves to teach. Often there are things that coaches have to teach to make students effective. And then there are things they love to give students because it is what makes us love this sport. This is what we hope will make the Gales special, we will be teaching the sport of kayaking, not the past-time of kayaking. We hope the enthusiasm for the topics will shine through.

So in order to kick things off properly I thought I would kick things off with one of my favorite topics.

Body Trim in the Kayak
I love this topic because once you’ve got textured water you can really demonstrate to students how important their weight, posture, and seating position affect how the boat performs when it is planing over water rather than displacing water. This is actually true for both sea kayaking and surf kayaking, which is pretty cool. To be fair, it is also about how you position yourself in your boat to get it to plane, especially in smaller waves. This lesson applies primarily to moving ocean waves, or waves on the Great Lakes.

Catching Waves
The first exercise for catching waves somewhere between three-five feet in height, (waist to shoulder high) is to try to position yourself in a non-critical part of the break,( but still where it is breaking) and stay leaning forward the whole time, and paddle for waves. Next lean back and try paddling for waves. And last, try pivoting between upright, back as the wave picks up the stern, and forward as the kayak begins to plane. What most students will observe is that they felt that the tail of the kayak caught the wave better leaning back, but stalled out while planing downwave. Leaning forward made it harder to catch initially, but planing downwave was much more effective.  The most effective should be leaning back to weight the stern, and once the kayak starts downwave, leaning forward to drive speed forward.

We all do this instinctively while surfing sea kayaks when we lean back to stall the kayak, and stop it from pearling, and thus endoing. This is especially fun in surf kayaks that require you to lean forward once the stern has caught. Driving your head forward drives speed over the hull, and allows the kayak to really begin planing.

Your mileage may vary based on how your kayak fit. For instance, a high volume sea kayak with a small person in it, will have difficulty leaning back to weight the stern.

This is a small example of what I really love to teach, and what I would have students do to try and work on surfing waves on Lake Superior.

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