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Old 11-21-2005   #31
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I'm with Gary on the swimming thing. I yard sale all of my shit, and amazingly enough, I usually get it all back. I never hold on to my paddle or my boat until I'm gripping something on shore. Further more, I don't put a foot down until I'm laying on the river shore. But that is all personal preference.

I personally think that instruction is pretty good in the beggining stages of the sport, but once people hit class III they quit worrying about improving their technique. Hence, most paddlers will never run anything harder than Bailey, because they don't have good enough paddling technique. (Yes, some choose not to run harder water, but then why do you think most expert paddlers choose not to run harder whitewater than V+).

A class III paddlers risk on class III is the same as a class V paddlers risk on class V. Simply put, each paddler has gained the necessary skill to be safe and proficient on each level of whitewater. The expert just continued to improve their skill until they became an expert, and the intermediate only improved their skill to the point of being intermediate, and then stopped learning and claimed that anything harder was for the crazy's, even though the expert paddlers were very sane people.

I like to compare things to odds. Almost any paddler will run something if they know that they will make a line 9/10 times (or whatever). This is the same for class III or class V, and we all know that you can die on either if you miss a line. Take an intermediate and advanced paddler and put them on their respective whitewater, and their chance of missing is only 1/10. The risk is the same, regardless of the grade of whitewater, because you are only in trouble if you miss your line.

So to answer the question of how to get more people to take lessons at an intermediate stage, I have no clue. But if people want to explore deeper, more commiting, more exciting, and often prettier rivers, than I think they would want to be able to paddle more difficult whitewater.

Just some random thoughts from a different perspective.

Sorry for the misspellings. I suck.

Kyle McCutchen
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Old 11-21-2005   #32
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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I totally agree with you on part of that and totally disagree on the other part. I don't swim often but I too yardsale my shit when I do swim. If I'm out of my boat, chances are I have bigger worries than my gear.

Also you're totally right about people forgetting about technique once they reach class III. Nobody likes to go back and practice fundamentals after they consider themselves a solid boater. This explains most of the bad technique out there. Sometimes you have to go back to basics to get better.

On the other hand, the risk on class III is NOT the same as the risk on class V. Even if your chance of making the line is the same, the consequences are MUCH worse on class V. My definition of class III includes no serious consequences for a screw up (no a flip or swim is not consequences).

Because of this, there are plenty of boaters out there who limit what the paddle because of the consequences, not because of their skill level. Sometimes the consequences are too high even if you are going to make the line 99 out of 100 times. I don't want to minimize the importance of technique at every level of paddling but in terms of consequences, class V is a whole different ballgame.


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Old 11-21-2005   #33
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I think what Kyle was trying to say, is whitewater is relative to the paddler. I also have a comfort is class 5 and am very rarely worried when I paddle, But I think you are definately right Josh, everything is worse whenever you step up a grade, and when things go wrong in class 5 usaully you're trying to recover or at the mercy of the water gods.

I think this stuff taught about hold on to your shit when you swim is very dangerous and I hate floating behind my boat in any river. I even try to pull my booties and skirt off when I swim, just to give the whole crew something to chase. Rolling, is the best way to get better, it's proven time and time again. Learn to roll, have confidence and go have fun at whatever level you decide to paddle.
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Old 11-21-2005   #34
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Old 11-21-2005   #36
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
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All instructors are taught to tell students to try and self rescue your gear, **IF ** the situation allows it. Scenario's that are easy self rescues would be on wide open class 2, or easy 3 swims. If the scenario is bad then ditch your gear and get to shore ASAP.

But, if I am swimming some shit...I will instantly yardsale my gear and my ass is swimming to shore! ...DUH!

As far as lessons past the class 3 level: There is only one thing that stops people from continuing their education past the point of class 3......
...THEIR EGO!!!! They say to themselves, "I don't need to pay money for a lesson; I am a solid class 3 boater with a good roll.

Here is a good rule of thumb: If you have to set-up and count to three before you have a *HALF ASS ROLL (at best)*, and not a good roll. If you have this type of roll then maybe it is time to think twice about running class 4 and up. I once took a guy down the Numbers for a private lesson/tour. He claimed to have a "good roll." Upon arriving in rapid #1 he preceded to flip and it then took him 3 TIMES to finally come up. That my friends *IS NOT* a good roll. If you read this and say to yourself, "Shit, that's me." No is a couple of solutions:
1) Take another lesson--preferably a playboat lesson (you are guaranteed to flip A LOT!)
2) Get EJ's Rolling and Bracing DVD

A good roll is *AUTOMATIC* and not *MECHANICAL* An automatic roll is a roll where you roll whichever way is fastest, and a mechanical roll is where you have to "set-up" and then roll. I have seen many boaters on class 5 with a mechanical roll...a good example of this is Gore Fest!

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Old 11-21-2005   #37
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Englewood, Colorado
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I'm always surprised how many guys I've run harder stuff with whom I later learn have no offside roll. I wonder if that shouldn't be emphasized more. But you hit the point, Marko - people stop taking lessons. And since offside rolls don't come naturally to most folks, if they're not taught how, they often don't learn.
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Old 11-22-2005   #38
Denver, Colorado
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okay, now to change the topic from teaching to growth. But, first let me add this about teaching, and improving your own skills. ACA cert classes will and does improve every aspect of your paddling. Don't let your ego get in the way. I guarantee however good you *think* you are, the ACA course will shoot that to shit, and show you better technique.

Getting the family involved is a harder topic to address as it involves changing a persons way of thinking about something from “is it safe, do I want to do this, do we have the time/money” from the person that doesn’t paddle to “We can do this”. The advanced kayaker must realize that the non-paddlers turned kayaker may never move beyond Class 2. But that will give the family something to do together and more than likely allow the more advanced paddlers to go and have adventures with their paddling buddies.
okay, for starters...the family, it would be great to get more families involved. This has a better chance of happening now that EJ has created a boat for the little ones. I have personally seen a *little* increase in kids kayaking. I think that will keep growing. **HOWEVER** I heard a theory about the biggest problem kayaking has about growth. This person mentioned that kayaking is missing an integral link to reaching a bigger audience. *A RESORT* It made sense to me. For example: A person is looking to learn how to ski. Who does he call? A resort. The ski industry has the manufactuer, the ski shop, and the resort. The resort makes it easy for this person(family) to come and learn how to ski. Also, there is 3 forms of marketing, which creates much bigger dollars to reach the consumers.

The kayak industry has the manufacturer, and the kayak shop (which usually includes the instruction) You only have 2 avenues to market kayaking. As you know, the kayak manufacturers only advertise to current paddlers, and the kayak shops market to current paddlers as well. The only ACTUAL marketing that is done to reach new paddlers is through very small instructional shops. At best, these instructional institutions reach the local population.

Second, kayaking is not a very accessible sport. It is not easy to find a river that suites all types of ability levels. In order for the whole family to enjoy one river they have to all be at the same ability level. Otherwise, mulitple shuttles are required or somebody is bored. This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic.

Part of this issue can be addressed by getting more non-paddlers to attend Slalom events. Seeing the kids and women running the gates shows that everyone can be involved in kayaking and it doesn’t include huge water, normally. Another way is to offer free demos to kayaker’s families where they paddle around for awhile then do a wet exit to see it’s fairly easy to get out of their boat.
Dude - Are you serious? Attend Slalom events? That is like watching paint dry! That is not what will help growth. When I was 14 I wanted to huck, and be adventurous! I saw things that looked cool and wanted to mimick them. If I was 14 and I saw a dude wearing spandex, and carrying a really long fiberglass boat, and then boating down a couple of ripples I would most likely think that kayaking is LAME! Then I would go and buy a skateboard! Seriously, KAYAKING DOES NOT NEED MALES WEARING SPANDEX!! This could possibly be a top reason for the stunted growth of kayaking. I am all for women wearing spandex, in fact it might actually help the growth. I know why I want to learn how to surf...beaches...bikinis...adventurous...need I say more. But--dude--slalom?? They have had many years to appeal to the masses, it hasn't worked yet, will it ever? I am not dissin' on the slalom paddler, just the idea that this might help growth. (side note-if you want to learn good strokes, watch a good slalom paddler)

I am an advocate for creating events that are EXCITING for the mainstream consumer to watch. And yes, Ras, this does include a "mtn dew" theme. I don't think it is the ONLY thing that will help kayaking grow, but I do think it helps more than you would think. My personal experience with organizing an event that was really FUN to watch has proven this theory. My other proof comes from other industries such as, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding. ***You don't have to re-invent the wheel to be successful***

I do agree with free demos, and quick clinics to show what kayaking is all about would be a great benefit. The most common misperception is that people think it is hard to get out of the boats.

Just some more food for the other topic.
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Old 11-22-2005   #39
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I think Dagger's Paddle with the pros is a great idea. It reminds me of when skate demos used to be just be sessions where you would actually skate with the pros. I remember they caught some shit for it last year because people thought it was a marketing ploy and too commercial, but there is nothing wrong with marketing. The problem was the same as has been mentioned. It was marketed towards current paddlers. Even if the water wasn't great it should have been at Golden where it had a chance of drawing a crowd. One of the great things about these emerging sports is the accesibilty of the top athletes. Just like skateboarding back in th day, that is part of what draws in the initial crowd. The whole sponsor me craze helps too. It might also help if we could stock high schools with groupie kayaker chics. Everything else said seems pretty right on too. Damn, a thread started by ras where people actually get along. What is the buzz coming to?
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Old 11-22-2005   #40
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I just finished my first season kayaking. I did really well, going from scared crapless in a boat to running the Royal Gorge twice (at ~400 flows).

Being out with a lot of new boaters this year, I pooled them into two camps:
Camp 1: Scared beyond belief when upside down in the water (that was my category at first).
Camp 2: Not scared when upside down because they're unafraid to bail and swim.

I think perhaps the Camp 1 folks are more prone to quitting unless they can get a roll. For me, quitting wasn't going to happen, but because I was SO scared, I knuckled down and worked on a roll over and over and over. I got it on the 9th day in a boat, and soon got good combat rolls in the Arkansas (had my share of swims, don't get me wrong).

I think the Camp 2 people might unnecessarily burden the people they're with because they swim easily, and that's another matter for another discussion. New kayakers owe it to everyone to learn their roll because in the grand scheme, rolling = energy conservation, and that's important to safety.

For me, the roll was the most important thing.
The roll for me meant "margin of error increase."

I was only doing Class II in that phase before my combat roll got good enough, and so while I was scared crapless at first, once I got a few clean combat rolls under me, I QUICKLY lost my fears. Once I lost my fears, I started pushing the envelope, experimenting. I knew I could roll up.

Now, on the other hand, I had a scary moment on the Gorge the first time (Mike Brown wrote about our two shoulder separations out of 5 boaters on that trip earlier this season). I was the only available boater for a "rescue" on one of those shoulder separations in Wallslammer. A lot could have gone worse, but didn't.

All that was necessary as the rescuer was the basic stuff that I learned in Confluence Kayak's basic two-day intro course (I compliment them because they taught me enough to make sure an injured swimmer got to safety). I talked to him, LET HIS BOAT GO DOWNSTREAM, and stayed with the swimmer till he could grab my grab-loop and got him into an eddy.

On Wallslammer that day, I don't think there was a lot in terms of hazards in that condition of water.

Back to intermediate skill levels though, because I think a lot needs to be done in this area.

I feel exceedingly fortunate to have mentors like Mike Brown in the Pikes Peak Whitewater Club, because I have a personal familiarity with him and I know his skill, and his commitment to making good boaters. He helped me focus my lessons on basics in Class III by doing the same run over and over (Parkdale in our case in the springs).

I did Parkdale 10 times before I went to the Gorge, and after having done the Gorge twice (portaging Sunshine x2, swimming Sledgehammer once), I've come to realize my basic skill set is NOT sufficient to get me to Class IV yet. I'm not scared crapless there like I was when I jumped from II to III, but my master of fundamentals is not sufficient for my own tastes to feel like I am in complete control in Class IV.

I've seen a lot of that in this thread - higher skilled boaters noting that a lot of the folks running IIIs are getting over-confident. I don't want to be sloppy in IIIs, let alone IVs, so next season my goal is to have a big Class III year and master a lot more fundamentals, do more varied runs (I so loved Brown's on the one run I did there), and again, push that envelope as my skill set is refined.

So to summarize my opinion:
The basic rescue of a swimmer needs to be taught.
The roll needs to be hyper-emphasized because it further increases safety through energy conservation, and because it's the primary skill through which a new boater learns to experiment on his own.

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