Thursday, 29 October 2015

Bring Back the Flair! - Tom Rainey

I’ve only just returned from my trek across the Atlantic, but I’m already dreaming of my next paddle on the water. Since being on solid ground all I’ve dreamt of is kayaking. But, due to not doing it for a while, I have a lot to work on before I can hit up rivers such as the Little White in the US or the Teigdalen in Norway.

I am starting from scratch. Back to basics, and making it as hard as I can for myself. That means no big volume boats, no super forgiving displacement hulls, but sharp whippy boats that teach you the fundamental basics of white water kayaking.
You know the dart. But how well do you really know it?
Everyone in the South West likes to comment on what level they’ve run the dart at. But why does that matter? I’ve seen logs go down it at 7th step! And logs are terrible at fine art kayaking.

You want to impress the girls? Carve some lines, make ridiculous break outs, treat small drops like 60 footers and peel out into the flow and boof them like no mans business.

Small hole, deadly consequences.
Summer 2012 – I thought that I knew what it took to run a big drop. But I underestimated the basic, simple and vital tools to run a waterfall. The small hole at the top which you can see me goating my way through led to what was a catastrophic crash down one of Norways most notorious drops – The Teigdalen Double Drop.

What I’m trying to say is, forget the photo glory of flying off waterfalls if you haven’t mastered the small stuff.

So, what’s my advice?

Re-think how you view the river. Instead of crashing down and feeling success having mainlined the rapids, why not look for a new line you’ve never tried before?

It must be nearing a 300+ runs down the upper dart for myself, but every time, I look for a new line. That’s only recent, but it’s a way of trying to better yourself each time.

Reconsider how you view the river – change your perspective!
Re-invent your mindset – Try to have the most fun out of your paddling, and by that I mean make up crazy moves. Bring back the flare and grace of old school kayaking.

Most of all – look at the elders who taught you to paddle (that’s if you’re a young gun reading this). Most of the more experienced paddlers I speak to come from a slalom background that taught them balance, fine paddle placement and edge transfers as well as how to read the water impeccably.
Relish nailing new moves and new lines that have escaped your view