Broadside waves in kayaking

There are a number of adverse effects to stability from reacting to broadside waves in your kayak or ski.

When I was learning flatwater K1, and now when I coach K1 the hardest lesson to learn regarding waves was to ignore them for the most part. In a K1, as a novice, any little wave is a huge threat. Whether it is the wake of a passing duck, a breath of wind or the apparent wall of water thrown up from a passing motor boat at 5kn, all of these are huge obstacles to the newbie in a K1.

We teach all our K1 paddlers to look primarily at the horizon or some stable object on the horizon so that their body remains vertical, even if the kayak tilts left, right, etc. Many newer paddlers look at the bow of the boat, or worse yet the water and quickly become disoriented.

While looking at the horizon doesn’t mean ignoring what the water is doing. You have to constantly scan the water around you while maintaining the horizon as “home base”. If anything important happens on your scan you can then prepare for any necessary action such as relaxing, flattening the stroke slightly, shortening the stroke, changing course, etc.

A great deal of rough water skill comes from a delicate balance of skill, core strength and the ability to relax your core muscles to accommodate boat movement while continuing to apply power to the hull

With only a little effort you can shift from fearing rough sloppy water to loving it as another ski challenge to tackle.

Alan Carlsson
Engineered Athlete Services

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