The flatwater loop is the single coolest-feeling flatwater trick around. When you learn to flatwater loop, you’ll be able to get your kayak in the air in any pool, eddy, lake, or just about anywhere! The only real prerequisite skill is that you can get into a bow stall. If you can learn to throw a loop with no current, you’ll be ready to LAUNCH them in a good playspot as well. A few thought on equipment: a short kayak will be easier to bring the stern through, but you want lots of volume to get out of the water (So a happy thruster/beach ball can help a lot!). Also, it’ll be easier to bounce your boat with a lower feather angle–I learned to flat loop with a 30 degree paddle, but I’m down to zero now and it’s way easier. Here’s how to learn it:
Bounce your kayak:
1. Get into a bow-stall, and try to position yourself with the blades of your paddle back-face down. Try to learn to balance with your head somewhere around a foot off the water.
2. Rock your wrists back 90 degrees so that your blades will slice downward and reach the paddle 6″ to a foot under water.
3. Rock your wrists back to normal (blades parallel to the surface) and PULL your bow and body deep by pulling on the paddle and standing up on your bulkhead (this should sink you up to your armpits if you’re good at it).
4. You now have all that volume underwater that wants to rise, so get the paddle out of the water, and stand up with your boat so that your head and body are WAY higher than normal (get ready to face-plant the first several times, but ENJOY it anyway!)
5. As you fall back into the water, reach down under with your paddle and pull hard again.
6. Getting comfortable doing a few bounces in a row will make it easier, but once you can do 2 pulls without falling over, you should start trying to loop–bouncing continually will wear you out fast, and it’s hard to balance!
Throw the Loop:
7. On your second pull/bounce, let the boat go slightly past vertical as it rises and reach for the sky with your hands to jump up into the air. Go past vert enough that if you don’t throw a loop, you’ll have to face-plant.
8. Only reach up for a split second before AGGRESSIVELY throwing your body all the way forward into a tucking position (almost get your paddle in “home base” rolling position with one blade in front). This should start you flipping hard.
9. Once the boat’s entirely inverted, throw your body and paddle to the back deck to pull the stern through and flatten your bow back down again. If you throw your paddle blade like a sweep, but over your head to the stern, it becomes a “loop stroke”, which makes it way easier to finish the loop.
10. Finish the trick lying on the back deck flat before sitting up. SWEET!!!!!
Some Jedi-Ninja-Wizzard secrets to learning fast:
-It’s easy to get into the habit of just bouncing indefinitely waiting for a bounce that feels right. It’ll never feel right, so try to alternate between bouncing a lot and making yourself throw on the second bounce every other attempt. Otherwise you’ll never get any practice at throwing the actual loop.
-Resist the urge to leave your head in the same place while the boat bounces. Instead, stand up as it rises, then reach down back into the water only after you’re falling back in already. You’re going to fall over a lot at first, but that’s ok: everyone who can flatwater loop fell over a lot at first!
-Really snap your body through the loop as quickly as possible: jump (hands up), tuck (to flip), then back deck to finish.
-The more bite you can get on your loop stroke, the easier the stern will go through. Some people use both blades to bring the stern through–watch John Myers, or Ruth Gordon.
-It’s pool sesson season, so get in that indoor pool and WORK IT
It’s actually possible to keep your head dry for an entire flatwater loop once you’re good at it. Another fun trick is to try to clean it once you’re really good. Enjoy the photos of EJ at Rock Island, which start on his second bounce–otherwise it would have been a 30-shot sequence! EJ’s special camouflage AT-2 looks gangsta!
Live from Rock Island, TN,