Tuesday 15 June 2021
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Whitewater Kayaking Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Last weekend Jeff and I were guest instructors at the Paddle Golden Gate Symposium in San Francisco, CA.  It is always fun to show up at a “sea kayak” event with whitewater kayaks on our rig,  and even more fun to get to teach whitewater ocean kayaking.

Rock Gardening Golden Gate Bridge

Whitewater Kayaking out the Golden Gate Bridge

We were teaching our specialty Whitewater of the Sea.  Whitewater of the Sea is whitewater kayaking in ocean rock gardens.  For our class at Paddle Golden Gate, we started out with some basics in Horseshoe Curve.   Most of our students have considerable experience in sea kayaks and solid rolls under their skirts.  However for many of them this was a first time in a whitewater kayak.

Stroke Drills

After some stroke work, Jeff and I introduced our students to the rocks.  We swooshed and played our way out the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kayaking Under the Golden Gate Bridge

San Franscisco Bay is known for strong currents.  The current the day of our class was ripping!  We whooshed out the gate with it in search of some rock garden play.   We definitely found some.   Part of the fun of whitewater ocean kayaking is working with the pulse of the sea.  We use this energy to push us along rocky shorelines, over rocks, and through gaps.


Swooshing along is fun and with good timing can be effortless.  However, most of our students would agree that riding ocean waves over rocks pegs the fun meter.  We call this feature a pour-over.  We managed to find a sweet one just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Zen Rock Gardening Golden Gate Bridge

Rock Gardening Outside the Golden Gate Bridge in the JK Zen

It was fun to see the different styles of whitewater kayaks and how they performed in the features.  On this day, the longer transition boats like the Jackson Kayak Karma RG had more speed on the flats; however, it was the playful maneuverability of the river runner style whitewater kayaks like the Jackson Kayak Zen that scored the best rides.

Jeff Laxier in his JK Zen showing how to ride a pour-over

Jeff Laxier in his JK Zen showing how to ride a pour-over.

After many fun filled rides and a lunch break at Kirby Cove.  It was time for us to head back under the gate.  Happy Hour provide by Ninkasi Brewing Company awaited us.

Launching from Kirby Cove

The current was ripping out the gate fast and there was no way that we would make it back in our whitewater kayaks.  Fortunately we had arranged for a shuttle.  Cheers to Galen of Sea Trek for the sweet shuttle ride in the Sea Trek skiff.

Shuttling by skiff for happy hour. Photo by Mark Boyd