I recently picked up a new concept that has been making my whitewater paddling a lot smoother. After watching hours of Facebook videos of kids like Aniol Serrasolses or Evan Garcia paddling, there is one thing in common- they all use speed.
Floating down the river will let you survive easy rapids, but when it comes to being under control in whitewater, speed is crucial. Its not about stroking hard like a race, I’m not talking pedal to the metal. Its about being a bit faster than the water. By always staying ahead, you end up spending less energy fighting waves and eddy lines.
I’ve started working on a new style that involves less strokes but makes them effective. I’ve found that by reducing the amount of times I put my paddle in the water, and concentrating the energy in fewer but more significant strokes, my lines end up working out better and I end up spending less energy. For example, instead of racing into a boof with 10 choppy half-ass strokes, i get 4 solid fwd strokes and one solid boof. Figuring out which strokes are the important ones will help you greatly.
Give it a try. It will take some time finding the right speed, but when you do it well it feels good instantly. Pace yourself. Then try speeding up without using more strokes. Find those important strokes. And watch a lot of kayaking videos!
Rafa Ortiz @rafaortizkayak