The September session of “P & P” was a “play” specific clinic, so we invited pro-kayaker, Christie Glissmeyer, to co-teach and share with us some of her playboating ‘secrets’. We also had the opportunity to demo Jackson kayaks, borrowed to us from the Kayak Shed in Hood River, OR. We had lots of great boats, but most of the women wanted to take advantage of the ‘play’ and demoed the “Star” series of Jackson kayaks.
In this write-up, I have included many of Christie’s suggestions for improving your playboating moves. Read on to find out how:
The day started off, as all other P & P’s do, with introductions. There were 5 girls – some of the coolest gals I know on the water. Some of the women were returning from prior courses, so it was great to see them again.
After introductions, we talked about “outfitting” your playboat. Christie gave specific tips on how to outfit your boat to increase your control. Here are some of Christie’s suggestions:
1. Make sure your backband is snug, supportive. This puts you in an aggressive forward position.
2. Raise your seat (Christie places a 1-inch foam layer on her seat): This elevates your body, to clear your elbows from hitting the cockpit and helps with leverage.
3. Snug hip pads: Have your hip pads supportive, but not so tight that they make your legs numb.
4. Seat Position: Have your seat as forward as possible. This helps with bow initiation.
5. Foot Blocks: Christie uses one foam block for her heels to push off of. This is especially helpful when you are on your bow. When your toes are free to wiggle around, it helps to keep your feet from falling asleep.
6. Triangle knee blocks: Christie cuts a rectangular foam block into triangles and wedges them under each knee. This helps to keep your knees up in the knee braces, which will help with ease of rolling and edge control.
7. Float bags are also an important piece of equipment to have in your boat, because you never know . . .
After the gals made their appropriate adjustments, we headed off to the river. Being that it was early in the day, the put-in was quiet, so we did our yoga/stretch for the day. Some important muscles to stretch to prevent injury:
1. Hamstrings – if your hamstrings are really tight, they pull down on your lower back, causing lower back pain. So, it is very important (especially because we sit in our kayaks all day) to stretch the back of your upper legs (hamstrings). Here’s how: Sit on the floor, with one leg pulled in and the other leg extrended. Lean forward from the hips (not the shoulders), back straight and chest lifted up. It does not matter how low you get to your leg, the key here is to feel a slight pull in your hamstrings and hold that position for about 30 seconds.
2. Chest – We kayak all day, which tightens the front of our body (chest) and strethens the back of our body (lats). So, to counteract this, we need to stretch and strengthen our chest. To stretch our chest, open your hands wide, place your hands behind your ears and push your elbows back. Continue pushing your elbows back for about 15 seconds. Rest and repeat. Adding push-ups to your workout routine will also strengthen your chest as well as the other muscles that you don’t necessarily use while kayaking. Doing push-ups will create ‘muscle balance’ in your upper body.
3. Torso – Side bends are a great way to stretch your torso (obliques).
Both stretching and strengthening can improve your overall fitness and kayaking ability, plus it will help keep you injury-free . . . if you would like more help with developing an exercise program to balance out your paddling, please email me at email@example.com
After the yoga-stretch, we continued to warm-up with playboating specific drills.
Proper forward strokes – 10 slow, 10 medium, 10 fast – 2X’s
1. Torso rotation – you should be able to see your PFD move.
2. Vertical paddle shaft – the more horizontal your paddle shaft, the more spin momentum you create for your boat.
3. Plant paddle blade in at toes and out at hip.
4. Body position forward.
Proper back strokes – 10 slow, 10 medium, 10 fast – 2X’s
1. Torso rotation.
2. Body position forward.
3. Look over your shoulder every once in awhile.
4. Vertical paddle shaft.
Back paddling with torso twist to warm up torso
1. Plant paddle blade in at stern and push blade away from boat.
2. Look back at the paddle blade.
Flatwater spins, leading with head (where your head goes, your body will follow)
Flatwater cartwheels, leading with head
Lean Cleans: scooping water with bow and stern, winding up with torso twist, no paddle
Edge control exercises, holding your boat on edge using oblique muscles (see how long you can hold an aggressive edge)
Backdeck rolling and kick flips (air screws)
1. Keep arms within the “box” to protect shoulders
2. Build up speed
3. Take a long forward stroke about half way up the face of the wave
4. Lift bow at crest at about 11 o’clock
5. Launch your body past the crest and initiate a back deck roll over the trough of the wave
6. Roll up as you begin to climb the next wave
1. Build Speed (you need to spot the wave before hand)
2. Start the double pump stroke about half way up the face of the wave
3. Initiate the bow up at 11 o’clock and “throw” bow down at 12 o’clock over the crest of the wave
1. Approach high on the eddy line, where it is well-defined
2. Have speed
3. Approach the eddy line at a 45 degree angle
4. When your bow is at 90 degrees on the eddy line, drop your upstream edge and use a hard back stroke on the opposite side
5. Make sure that as you pull your back stroke, that you are looking back towards that paddle blade – very important!
6. Keep your body forward, chin on the same shoulder as the arm you are taking the back stroke with
Catching a wave from an eddy (Remember speed, angle and edge is what kayaking is all about)
1. You must have the correct amount of SPEED (which will vary, depending on the power of the current)
2. ANGLE: 45 dergrees
3. EDGE control: stay on downstream edge as you would for a ferry (you accelerate when you are on an edge)
4. Boat position: bow enters wave at the lowest part of the trough
1. Carve and use the shoulders of the wave to work your way to the pile, or spin to the top (in order to spin, you must not have a lot of speed or you will spin right off of the feature)
2. Throw moves when you start to accelerate back down the face of the wave
3. Use rudders to help with edge control
4. Use breaking strokes to time acceleration down the face of the wave
5. Take strokes on the downstream side of the boat only
1. Lead with your head
2. Use alternating push and pull strokes
3. Keep your boat flat
4. Spin towards the pile
1. Carve from the top of the pile across the wave
2. You must have aggressive edge transfer, starting at 11 o’clock with the back stroke at your hip
3. You may bounce from edge to edge to help with edge transfer
4. Initiate your bow at 12 o’clock, with your weight over your boat
5. Use aggressive back strokes to keep yourself in a back surf
If you have any questions about certain moves, please contact me and I will help.
After the full day on the river, we headed back to Wet Planet’s Base Camp near the Tieton and concluded with a wrap-up session. During the wrap-up, each girl shared one thing that they took away from the clinic. It was amazing what great things these women learned – air screws, front surfing, blunts, even just feeling better about going down river. What a great day! Thank you’s go out to Christie Glissmeyer for making this clinic a huge success, to the Kayak Shed for giving the ladies the opportunity to demo the Jackson boats and to the ladies, themselves, for having great attitudes, were willing to work hard all day and are some of the coolest gals around! Hope to see you in our next P & P . . .
All photos are courtesy of Kate Howell . . . thanks!
Team Wet Planet
Team Jackson Kayak
Team Level Six
– Wet Planet @ 10:33 AM