This is the first in a series of blogs to help build your confidence and skills around the one bit of the race you probably haven’t trained for! That’s OK though I am sure you have been kayaking before on a school tour or on a summer camp and you ran across the boats and all that jazz. So if you managed that, this will be easy.
First things first get your life jacket on, not only is it good sense it is actually the law. So once you are buckled up, grab a paddle, kayak and a buddy.
A paddle is essential to getting you moving so make sure and grab one of them too. To make sure you are holding it correctly have a look for any writing on the blade (spoon bit at the end of the ends of the pole) generally speaking if you can read the writing you have the paddle the correct way around, if the writing is upside down flip the paddle to get it the right way up.
The next piece is pretty simple; grab the shaft (pole bit between the blades) like the handle bars of a bike with your hands shoulder width apart and with an even space between your hand and the blades.
You won’t get far without a kayak so grab one of them next; most races now use double sit on top kayaks. As a general rule the larger/taller/heavier person goes in the back seat this helps maintain control and speed.
So you are now tooled up and ready to launch into the kayak leg of your race. This can be tricky and not very graceful but it is a little easier if you accept the fact you are going to get your feet wet so get stuck in. There are 2 entry methods to board your kayak, the straddle and the side saddle.
The straddle involves you putting a leg either side of the kayak, placing your paddle in front of your legs across the kayak and use your hands to grab the sides of the kayaks and lower yourself in to the seat.
If you have short legs (like me) or the kayak is in deeper water the straddle may not be an option so you can go for the side saddle. If you want to be super slick and save vital seconds you can try the syncro side saddle this involves both paddles mounting at the same time from opposite sides of the kayak. This is the description for entry from the right hand side of the kayak. Stand beside the seat of the kayak, place your paddle in the water between you and the kayak (it will float, trust me). Reach across the kayak to the far side with your left hand, this will balance the boat as you lower your arse into the seat, you can use your right hand on the near side to maintain control. Once your butt is in the seat maintain your hand position and swing your legs over into the kayak. Your paddle will be floating on the right side of your boat so just reach down and grab it, and pull like a dog!
The next blog will focus on working together to move forward efficiently and steering a straight line so stay tuned.