Whitewater Kayaking: The Secret to Beautiful Lines

If you’ve taken kayak instruction from me you know that I’m a big believer in the importance of boat angle in running beautiful lines. The ability to set and maintain your angle when running a rapid can make or break your line, and the amount of control you have going in and out of eddies is directly related to angle.

Angle is more important than speed, especially when running lower volume, technical rivers. The crux is how well you can maintain your angle because setting your angle is the easy part! Here are two POV videos of the same rapid (the right line at Boof or Consequence on the Narrows of the Green). One where I maintain angle and one where I let my angle drop too far downstream.

What to Watch For

You’ll notice that in the second video where I am able to hold my angle I start much closer to the rock on the right. From there I drive across from right to left with lateral momentum. This lateral momentum allows me to easily maintain my angle toward the left for a smooth landing.

In the first video I start further left and end up too far left, shanking off a rock. This video demonstrates how important it is, not only to set your angle, but also to set your start position. Starting too close to the feature you want to drive across or toward doesn’t give you the space to drive and carry lateral momentum.

Momentum is our friend, especially when it’s being carried in the direction we want to go. Without enough room to carry that momentum our kayak is more easily thrown off by obstacles such as rocks or a strong current moving in the opposite or different direction.

How to Maintain Your Boat Angle

  • Set your start position with enough space and time to drive across and create lateral momentum behind your angle.
  • Use your strokes wisely. As we move from beginner to more intermediate and advanced techniques the timing of our strokes matter. Time to let go of the ‘just keep paddling’ mentality and move toward taking he right strokes at the right time.
  • Look for your landing so that you stay focused on where you want to end up.

I’d love to hear what other differences you saw between the two videos. Please post in the comments below and also include any strategies you use for maintaining boat angle!

If you’d like to explore these strategies on the water check out my private instruction offerings!

 

 

Meet Anna Levesque

Anna Levesque is the leading expert on paddling instruction for women and yoga for paddling, including SUP Yoga. Named one of the most inspirational paddlers alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Anna’s twenty-plus years of experience as an accomplished international competitor, instructor, coach and author has landed her in mainstream publications such as TIME, SHAPE and SELF.

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