Over the past couple months, I have been playing around with my Karma Unlimited. I picked up the boat in November with the intent of creeking with it this winter to try and be comfortable racing one by this upcoming fall. Needless to say, it has been a learning experience for myself, and not always an easy road. Up until just a few months ago, I had never even had my butt in a long boat! I decided to put together a few tips and tricks that I have learned/noticed with my experience in a longboat.
1. You need to plan your lines.
I feel like this is a redundant tip (most people have an in general plan when running rapids). However, I found that planning out my lines in a longboat became a necessity (especially tight technical rapids). From my experience, the Karma UL can make most of the technical moves and eddy hoping that a short boat can. However, the lines that you take can’t be last minute decisions. Once you peel out and get up to full speed, I have had little success with making the last-minute bail out eddy before the drop that was not planned.
2. Your stern is now in play.
This kind of comes with the territory of a longer boat, but your stern is definitely in play. It is very easy to have your stern catch rocks or eddies while you are moving through technical water if you are not paying attention. I have had a couple occasions early on where I spun out due to catching a rock on my stern the wrong way.
3. Be mindful of your edges at full speed.
Being in a whitewater kayak period requires some level of edge control, but if you want to truly take advantage of your longboats speed, you will need to master edge control. I found this especially true when exiting rapids with swirling eddy currents. To keep your speed and stay in control, you will need to revisit your posture and you edge in your boat.
4. You don’t need to take that extra paddle stroke
On a couple occasions, I have screwed up rapids in my longboat due to taking large overcorrecting strokes at the last second. A classic example of this is boofing the log at Go Left and Die on the Green Narrows. In a short boat, you need to take a fairly big boof stroke over the log to make it through the left slot at the bottom of the rapid. In a long boat, a big boof stroke at the log will send you flying into the left wall of the rapid. Ask me how would I know this.
– Matthew Huddleston