Useful Tips

How to sail a kayak


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Note: hereinafter, the words "kayak" and "kayak", as well as "kayaking" and "water tourism" - we will consider synonyms.

Kayaking is a type of outdoor activity that is fascinating and useful for body and soul. But in order for your water travel to be safe for life and health, a number of rules must be observed. These rules are discussed below for the case of travel by kayak (kayak) on inland waterways and in the coastal zone of closed marine areas.

(For traveling along mountain rivers and open sea and ocean waters, where there are noticeable tidal currents and pronounced surf - there are rules of their own, they are not considered here)

  1. General requirements
    • Categorically prohibited use a kayak (kayak) by persons in a state of alcoholic or drug intoxication of any degree. People with chronic illnesses should consult a doctor before kayaking.
    • The kayak crew must be located in life jackets. Only people who can swim can use a kayak.
    • Children can use the kayak only under adult supervision.
    • Caution is required when moving a kayak through public bathing places. Hitting a kayak or paddle can injure swimmers. When starting from the beach, you need to carefully go through the swimming area and further move outside this zone.
    • The more time you spend studying safety and mastering rowing techniques and kayaking techniques (turns, supports, rolls, Eskimo coup) - the more pleasant and safe your trips will be.
  2. Weather conditions and travel planning
    • The kayak must be in good condition. Pressurized hatches (buoyancy compartments) must be tightly closed. This will ensure the preservation of the necessary buoyancy of the kayak during overkill, as well as the ability to climb the crew back into the kayak, or put the kayak on an even keel by the Eskimo coup method
    • In conditions of excitement, the movement of the kayak near the rocky shore should be carried out at a safe distance from the rocks: approaching the rocks is fraught not only by the possible ejection of a kayak by waves onto the rocks, but also by overkill (flipping) of a kayak on short and irregular standing waves generated when waves are reflected from a rock. Similarly in strong excitement it is not recommended to approach the marinas, mooring walls and other objects near which the formation of short standing waves is possible.
    • For safety reasons, kayaking in rough sea conditions requires kayaker skirtsput on cockpit coaming. Keep in mind that the weather can change at any moment, as a result of which a wave can rise in any large body of water, even if there was a calm calm at the time of departure from the coast. Moreover, even in different parts of a large lake or river (and even more so at sea) there can be different wave and wind conditions! therefore Going on a trip - take your skirts with you!
    • IMPORTANT: when dressing the skirt, make sure that the strap on the front edge of the skirt is outside the cockpit, on the kayak deck! For this strap, if you didn’t succeed in the Eskimo coup, or if you don’t know how to do it, you can easily pull off the skirt and leave the kayak when overkill. If for some reason you didn’t find the strap when overkill, pry off and pull the skirt to the side of you.
    • To be able to pump out water from the kayak cockpit (for example, in the case when you climbed into the kayak cockpit after a coup), it is recommended to have a pump on the kayak (pump for pumping water, sea kayak pump). The use of skirts and a pump is mandatory if you practice kayakig on the sea, regardless of the current weather condition (weather at sea can change quickly!). To facilitate the ability to climb back into the kayak when overkill, it is recommended to use inflatable paddle containers (Paddle Float).
    • Going even on a short voyage outside the water area of ​​your beach (your bay) - find out the weather forecast! Pay attention to the strength and direction of the wind - the height of the wave depends on this, and it can be different in different parts of the reservoir. In general, the greater the acceleration length (the distance along the water surface along which the wind blows), the larger the wave (for example, for the Volga River, large waves form mainly in those areas where the wind blows along the river bed). Remember that even with a favorable forecast, sharp weather deterioration, a squally wind, a thunderstorm are possible. To protect yourself - in advance on your route outline the points where you can wait out the storm if necessary.
    • Find out and record local rescue phone numbers (in case of the sea - inform about your trip to the frontier post). For the Samara region: tel. Central Rescue Station +7 (846) 333 48 34, tel. The operational duty of the Search and Rescue Service of the Samara Region: 333-55-14, 992-99-99, 8-927-713-38-98 Take with you in the micro-pressurized compartment of the kayak hermetic packaging with a cell phone!
  3. Inland Navigation Safety
    • Kayak movement must be carried out outside the ship (fairway). The borders of the fairway are indicated by buoys (buoys): buoys white or black, cone-shaped - limit ship traffic with left bank (i.e. mark the left border of the fairway), buoys red, cylindrical - from the right bank (i.e. indicate the right border of the fairway). At night, the beacon usually lights up flashing fire of the corresponding color (white or red). Near settlements (in places of a massive concentration of lights) it is possible to replace the white light with green.
    • Crossing the ship's passage should be done along the shortest path (perpendicular). Categorically prohibited ship crossing closer than 1 km from ships moving in both directions along the ship's course.
    • Inexperienced crews should avoid kayaking at night. When driving at night, the kayak crew must turn on white navigation lights: 1 light in front of the kayak, 1 light in the back of the kayak. it is necessary to check the good visibility of the lights. As lights, you can use, for example, headlamps. The use of lights of a different color on a kayak is not allowed
    • When driving at night in a navigable pond, carefully monitor the environment. Remember that motorized vessels carry red (non-flashing) fire on the port side and green (non-flashing) fire on the port side, and in any case do not allow your kayak to be between the green and red running lights of the approaching ship!
    • If you capsized on a two-way kayak and your team does not know how to make an Eskimo coup, it makes sense for the rear rower to climb into the kayak with the support of the front rower, using an inflatable capacity dressed in an oar, or in a cowboy way, or simply pulling up on the side of the cockpit, in while the other rower on the opposite side holds a kayak. After that, the front rower grabs the kayak harness, and the rear rower transports it together with the kayak outside the ship's passage, where the front rower will have more time to climb into the kayak. In a similar situation, a rower on a solitary kayak is best to get up with an Eskimo coup, or climb into a kayak in a cowboy way or with an inflatable tank, and then leave the dangerous place.
  4. kayak crew technical skills

To make your kayaking classes as pleasant and safe as possible, we recommend that you carefully read both this manual and the available literature, animated tutorials and videos on rowing techniques. In particular, we recommend the following resources (see also at the end of the page!):

Pay attention: the leading arm is extended far enough forward to the middle (diametrical plane) of the boat, and Don't go down just before the stroke!

The main points are listed below.

Boarding a kayak

To land in a kayak, stand at the bottom of the pond on the side of the cockpit, bring one (left) foot into the cockpit and, without leaning on it, sit down (squat) and grab the cockpit coaming with both hands. Wherein your main body weight should be on your hands, not on your legs!. Thereafter, holding your weight with your hands, bring that leg (right) into the cockpit, which stood at the bottom of the reservoir, intercepting the adjacent (right) arm, extend the other (left) leg in the cockpit, at the same time lower your pelvis onto the seat. With this technique of landing in a kayak, you will not roll over when landing, even in conditions of slight excitement.

In conditions of great excitement during landing, try to deploy the kayak perpendicular to the waves, after that (in the case of a two kayak), the rear rower holds the kayak, the front rower quickly sets in and immediately begins to counteract drift and heel, and then the rear rower sets in. If the wind and waves prevent you from turning the kayak perpendicular to the waves during landing - keeping the kayak parallel to the waves - try to sit in it in the interval before the next wave arrives and immediately get ready to hold the heel and do vigorous work with the oars, see below (as a rule, the higher the waves - the larger is also the period of their succession and the wavelength).

If the coast is sandy and not steep, the task of starting in the conditions of excitement can be greatly facilitated. You can sit in a kayak on the shore and, pushing off from the shore with your hands and making movements with the basin, push it into the water.

IMPORTANT: the above recommendations do not apply to launch through the surf zone on the ocean coast. This case requires a good knowledge of kayaking techniques and special techniques. The launch technique through the surf zone is discussed in more detail, for example, at the forum of sea kayakers. We also note that in such conditions it is not necessary to use two kayaks because of the difficulties in coordinating the actions of rowers and the worse maneuverability of such kayaks, compared with single kayaks.

Rowing Technique

Possession of the right rowing technique will help you to get less tired and be able to continue on the route, and in addition, you will be able to quickly leave the danger zone in case of bad weather and move more efficiently against wind, current and waves. Watch carefully the rowing animation in the tutorial cited above, as well as in the Direct rowing section in the White Water Solfeggio book (straight rowing technique, control rowing, Eskimo coup are common elements of both deep-water kayaking and smooth water kayaking ( kayaking)).

IMPORTANT: many of those who went hiking on wide frame or frame-inflatable tourist kayaks of the Taimen-2 type - `` rolled up '' the wrong rowing technique, because due to the too wide width of the side and the lack of foot stops on such vessels it is very difficult implement the right stroke. For such people, it is especially important to study the correct rowing technique using the above manuals and subsequent training, both independently and under the supervision of an instructor.

Please note that unlike the `` tourist '' technique, right rowing technique involves:

  • complete straightening pushing paddle (front) arms with the conclusion of the brush in the diametrical plane (in the middle) boats
  • capture of water by paddle blade closer to the nose boats
  • body turn (strokes are performed by the body, not by hands!),
  • the oar movement is not along a wide arc far from the board, as on tourist kayaks, but along trajectory almost parallel to the kayak board and close to the board,
  • a hard grip of the oar with one (right) hand and twists of the oar under the brush of the other (left) hand so that the paddle blades each time enter the water perpendicular to the incoming flow.

On a kayak two, both rowers must row synchronously. In order to achieve synchronism, either in situations requiring an immediate change in the pace of rowing (for example, on large irregular waves), the rear rower can give the front command `` left '' (i.e. row with the left oar) or `` right '' ( i.e. paddle with the right paddle). !! Not to be confused with the commands `` left-hand drive '' (turn left, we reject the left steering pedal) or `` right-hand drive '' (turn right, we reject the right pedal), which already gives the front rower to the rear !!

Other technical elements of kayaking

In addition to direct rowing techniques, the following will be important for increasing your comfort and safety along the route:

  • Your ability to hold the roll (keep the kayak stable). Kayaks suitable for beginners (they include all the kayaks and kayaks currently being produced in KB SamBot) are stable enough to allow them, say, to sit quietly and have breakfast without too much excitement. At the same time, the initial stability of these boats is less than that of traditional kayaks such as Taimen, and you need to get used to them a little. To hold the roll, you must relax the upper body and keep the body perpendicular to the water, while allowing the kayak to tilt freely when it hits the waves. For more precise control of a kayak on a wave, put your hips on your thighs, feet on your feet, your kayak should become an extension of your body.
  • As a useful exercise: sit down on the shore in a kayak and swing it with your hips (wound up by the thighs) while holding the hull perpendicular to the water. IMPORTANT: hip movement is one of the key elements in the kayaking technique and, in particular, in the Eskimo coup technique.
  • If you are a beginner, and a motor boat has passed near your kayak and created a wave, remember what was said above about holding the roll. Do not strain! It’s also not worthwhile to specially change the rowing speed and course, turning the kayak with your nose perpendicular to the wave - in most cases a small nose turn in the direction of the wave is enough. On the waves, try not to lose speed and prevent spontaneous turns of the kayak with the help of corrective paddles (keeping the kayak on course is especially important in the most difficult driving mode - surfing on big passing waves when the kayak wheel can get out of the water, reducing handling!) In order not to tip over! on a large short side wave - ask a slight roll towards the wave.
  • Your ability to make support and support. If you did not hold the roll, you urgently need support, for which quickly hit the surface of the water with the back of the paddle blade. This will create a good support, but only for a second, so after that it is necessary to immediately restore the roll.
  • Your ability to shoot back and then climb into a kayak on your own from the water. The task of climbing back into the kayak is greatly facilitated by the inflatable containers put on the paddle (Paddle Float). For the subsequent pumping of water from the cockpit, you will need a manual pump (pump, sea kayak pump).
  • Your ability to steer an oar and lean on an oar when surfing on a big passing wave.
  • Your ability to do an Eskimo coup (if you possess this skill, then in the case of an overkill you do not have to perform a long operation of climbing back into the kayak and removing water from its cockpit).

Note that the last 2 elements are more complex and require great training in order to master them. Nevertheless, everyone can do it!

You can familiarize yourself with all of these elements in more detail in the above manuals, as well as using the following video clips:

  • We practice the Eskimo coup technique right on the shore: movie 1, movie 2
  • Supporting exercise with resting on the hands of an instructor or partner (without a paddle). Please note: the basis of the Eskimo coup is the movement of the hips, not the paddle!
  • Supports and the Eskimo coup. Important: during an Eskimo coup, the head rises out of the water last, and the paddle does not go deep into the oar, but along the surface of the water along an arc trajectory! A kayak is placed not by the stroke of the oar, but by the hips, the oar only creates a small support!
  • Eskimo coup together. Important: both kayakers must be able to do the Eskimo coup alone!
  • Important: learn how to return to the kayak with the help of an inflatable tank worn on a paddle! animated tutorial , video clip.
  • Return to the kayak using the “cowboy” method.


Kayaks are equipped with anatomical seats and footrests. Both that and another is regulated under features of a constitution of each rower so that he sat densely and could feel all movements of the boat hull and control them. Features of landing in a kayak are that the person in them is rigidly fixed and can swing the boat without allowing it to roll, with only one leg.

Rowers in kayaks are located either inside the cockpit (landing “sit in”) or at the top of the hull (landing “sit on top”). Their legs are stretched forward and slightly bent at the knees, which are slightly apart and fixed with stops. Feet rest against the lower stops, playing the role of a kind of pedals. To maintain balance in a kayak, a person in it must sit in such a way that the spine line is strictly perpendicular to the surface of the water, otherwise the boat will roll and move away from the straight course, and rowing will require extra physical costs.

When landing the sit-in, the torso of the rowers is half-closed by the hull of the boat, due to which they get the opportunity to control the kayak not only with the oars, but also with the lower body. The sit-on-top option does not provide such an opportunity, however it is more convenient in cases where people intend to dive or swim directly from the boat.

As for kayaking, it is as follows. Rowers are taken into the boat only when it is in the water at a depth of no less than 20 centimeters. Before boarding a kayak, it must be deployed so that the bow of the vessel is in the downstream direction. When landing, you can not step on the shell and the jumpers of the kilsons. Legs are placed only on thick tubes.

Landing begins with rowers putting oars in front of the front and rear seats across the boat. The one who is at the stern, holds the sides, the person near the bow takes his hands by the sides, puts the right foot in the kayak, then the left foot, and takes its place. Then he rests the oar against the bottom of the pond and helps the second rower to board the kayak.

How to swim (row) in a kayak

Kayaks are initially rowing boats, rowing on which has some nuances. Kayak oars have two blades and consist of a handle, a handle, a neck. The blades are connected to the handle with the neck. The length of the oars is selected individually and must correspond to the growth of the rower, the length of his arms and body. The blades on them are deployed at right angles to each other.

The oar is captured by two hands so that the distance between them is equal to the distance between the elbows of the divorced hands. Rowing itself is a closed process. Rowers are freely located in the kayak with the body slightly tilted forward and turned to the side of the stroke by about 50 degrees with the shoulder. Their lower arm with the oar is stretched forward and lowered down. Her hand is located at chest level in the center of the line between the longitudinal axis of the kayak and the side. The upper arm is bent at the elbow, its hand is at the temple’s rower level, the elbow is raised to shoulder level. The upper arm is jerky, the lower one is pulling.

The rower begins with the fact that the straight lower arm is lowered, and the upper arm at this time is unbent with a brush moving forward and slightly up. The paddle is introduced into the water at an angle of approximately 45º. The rower's body is currently turning towards the stroke. Posting the oar ends when the torso reaches approximately 45º. The hand of the pushing hand at the end of the wiring is at the level of the chin, the hand of the lower hand along with the forearm is bent to the side and slightly up. The oar is taken out of the water, the rower turns around, with a relaxed and extended arm carries the oar across the board, pulling it forward in the region of the longitudinal axis of the kayak, turns the torso to the other side and lowers the oar. In this case, the lower arm becomes upper, the upper - lower. A paddle dips into the water on the other side of the boat, a stroke is made.

For the rectilinear movement of the boat, strokes with an average wiring length and an average pace are used. They are called straight. To move the kayak backwards, reverse strokes are used, which according to the scheme are similar to straight ones. Such rowing allows you to increase the speed of the vessel to maximum and is called slalom. It is important that it be rhythmic and synchronous with two or three rowers. Otherwise, the kayak will begin to scour from side to side, roll to one side and poorly obey control.

Kayak management and U-turn

Kayaking is controlled either by the steering wheel or by oars. Many modern tourist models of boats are equipped with a steering wheel, but often it interferes with the movement, so rowers switch to oars. In addition, the roll helps to change the direction of the boat. If you bank the kayak to the right, it makes a left turn; if you bank the left, it turns right. Such inclinations are worked out in calm water. The vessel is dispersed at the oars, then the rowers lift them and tilt the boat in one direction or the other. Such control is carried out mainly when moving forward for corrective maneuvers.

Oars maneuver when cornering and turning the boat. In order to minimize the speed loss, control strokes are used, which are made in an arc from one side or another of the kayak, pushing away from the bow or pulling the stern. In this case, the oar passes along the very surface of the water. Rowing is carried out directly by the strongly deployed torso of the rower and the upper arm. The oar is far from the bow and held to the stern itself, and vice versa. The force is transmitted to it with the help of the most extended lower arm.

To control the boat, feed strokes are used, which allow you to maintain speed and do not slow down the movement. They can be carried out from a straight stroke or from a control stroke. Aft from a straight stroke is pushing the oars as far as possible and turning the blade so that it pushes the stream of water under the bow or stern. When managing feed, the paddle is carried horizontally, lowered into the water and returned back, attracting the bow or stern.

If you need to slightly pull the stern or bow of the kayak, without losing speed, use semi-tightening strokes. The oar is carried a little to the side, lowered into the water and draw an arc with it, while at the same time legs pulling the boat to the oar.

One of the leading techniques in kayaking is the veil. It is used when it is necessary to sharply change the direction of movement of the boat. The oar is placed at a certain angle against the movement of the kayak when the rower’s body turns, which transfers the weight of his body to it, and then falls into the water and pulls itself to the kayak.

Another governing trick is a stab. It is used in streams with a large speed difference. The oar is placed almost vertically near the side of the boat so that the blade is perpendicular to the direction of water movement. They play the role of an immovable stance around which the kayak unfolds due to the fact that the rowers hold her legs.

The effectiveness of all control strokes depends on the further the oar is carried out, and on the better the rowers work with the body. The main thing here is to control the movement of the boat and maneuver in time.

Where can you go kayaking?

Kayaks are universal boats that are suitable for almost any body of water. They can swim along rivers of any complexity, freely pass through stormy rapids, waterfalls, shallow water, and wetlands. Kayaks go on trips by sea, they are used for fishing and hunting in the most inaccessible places and for expeditions along difficult routes with crossings by land. In all cases, it is important to choose the right model so that the boat on the way does not cause trouble, and take all measures for the safety of its operation.

Kayak Safety

Kayaks are agile, maneuverable, obedient to manage, but can cause a lot of problems if you do not follow the rules for their operation. Firstly, you can’t get in a kayak without a life jacket, even if you have a short walk along the coast. There is always a risk of a boat overturn caused by unexpected factors.

Secondly, in a kayak you can’t get up in all growth and lean on board. You can only sit in a boat without even trying to get up. Thirdly, all things in it should be tied and packed in airtight bags. Otherwise, they may get wet, drown or crawl along the bottom and disturb the balance of the boat.

And finally, before any kayaking trip, you need to carefully check the route, determine the degree of its difficulty and inform all friends and relatives about what direction is planned. And if rescue services meet along the way, it is imperative to check them in so that in case of force majeure they know where to look for the boat and its passengers.

What is an arc stroke?

Arc Stroke used to rotate the kayak when we need to change or adjust the direction of movement.

With state-of-the-art kayaking kreaking kits, arc striking is much more often used to adjust the direction of travel than to rotate a boat. With longer boats, for example, for lakes or beams, this movement is primarily used for intensive rotation.

How is arc stroke performed?

To make the kayak spin, it’s important to understand a simple but non-intuitive idea: the paddle must be locked in the water while the legs and hips move while spinning the kayak.

In this picture you can see that throughout the movement the upper body and the oar are rigidly connected, while the shaft is parallel to the shoulders. Legs with a kayak should vice versa - rotate under us. The movement begins with the body turned in the direction where we are going to turn, and lowering the oars into the water near the nose of the kayak. The rotation of the body will bring the kayak to the desired position, while the hands will simply hold the paddle in front of the shoulders.

In order to effectively perform this movement, it is important to think about the movement of the legs and not think about the force exerted on the oar, because it only contributes to the movement of water, but not the boat.

How to turn shoulders

The rotation of the body is the basis of the arc stroke. The strength of your hands is not enough to effectively rotate the kayak. Shoulder rotation is a much more complex movement than you might think, and it starts with the rotation of the hips. A good rotation of the shoulders starts from the rotation of the hips on the seat and goes into the rotation of the body.

To rotate the hips on the seat, use the legs as shown in the picture - straightening one and bending the other leg. To rotate your hips, you should not be too tightly clamped, legs should be free enough.

To your heel stops you should have a distance of about 4 fingers, and your knees should move forward and backward at least 5-8cm. The thickness of the thigh stops should allow the hips to rotate 20-30 degrees. The spine can rotate only when you sit straight enough.

A full turn of the shoulders is obtained by turning the hips about 20-30 degrees and turning the spine at least 45 degrees. If you have good mobility, you can rotate your body up to 70-80 degrees.

How to learn it

It is best to start with exercises on land, sitting in a kayak, to familiarize yourself with this movement. Initially, rotation of the shoulders can affect balance.
First of all, you should focus on how your hips rotate in the seat, thanks to the movement of the legs. Once the thigh movement becomes familiar, you can also try to rotate the spine to achieve the maximum rotation possible.

A good exercise is to use a fixed shaft and turn the kayak under it.

When the rotational movement becomes natural, you can try to make it in water, but without a paddle. Now you need to get used to this movement, despite the instability of the kayak. One of the first exercises that I recommend is to make an arc stroke from nose to stern followed by a stroke from stern to nose, i.e. reversed. Thus, it is easier to control the shoulders and the oar, fixed in one position, and the kayak rotating under us.

At the next stage, you can do the alternation of arc strokes from bow to stern and from stern to bow from different directions, initiating continuous rotation.

Do not forget to constantly check that the middle of the shaft is always directly opposite your shoulders. It is very easy to stray from the rotation of the body and start moving with one hand!

Shoulder rotation is used in many movements, such as the steering and pulling stroke, and even in straight rowing. Based on my experience, I can say that this is the key to working efficiently without making more effort than necessary.