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Old 02-11-2013   #1
Bozeman, Montucky
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 33
Embracing your inner dumba**

Really great article about how let go, stop over analyzing and paddle like a guy. I'm not a kayaker, but definitely applies to many different sports. Worth a read.

Embracing Your Inner Dumbass: A Girl's Guide to Paddling Like a Guy

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Old 02-11-2013   #2
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Well. I admit I've been out of the water for awhile (OK, 30 years) but when I was full time about half of the guides I ran with were women. I think we might have spearheaded the idea that women could guide in fact, but then, Georgie White was old when I was running.

The thing is, every spring when we started training we had about double the number of guide candidates that we needed for the season. We knew that by the time training was over half of the newbies would have quit, most of them the first time they got snowed on, the rest when they saw their first real rapid. Because we ran the Dolores as one of our early training rivers, a lot of the "wanna be cool guide" trainees quit right after that trip.

We never cut the women slack because they were women. They were expected to learn how to row, and paddle, and cook, and clean the porta pot and get cold and wet and all that "real guide" shit the big burly guides did. The ones who were still standing around when the commercial season started did not have an issue with running any rapid we regularly saw. They had no problem backing down a drunk passenger who was getting out of line. They had no issue with all the work that went along with a trip, from pack to clean up.

About the only thing women did not do that men did was pee standing up; that is unless they were naked already. About the only thing men did not do that women did was shave their legs. Neither had anything to do with the ability to read or run any rapid with any available rig as far as I could tell.

My point is, the idea that you "paddle like a guy" strikes me as pretty damn funny. The women I ran with would have suggested (with arched eyebrows) that perhaps the men ought learn to "paddle like a woman" and proceed to challenge any and all comers to any contest they thought relevant to settle the issue. And most of them would win whatever the males could come up with, assuming any male I ran with would be stupid enough to actually rise to the challenge.

As the guy who trained me (and introduced me to my future wife on a Westwater trip) said; half the deal in successfully running river is in your head. The other half is in your head.

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Old 02-11-2013   #3
yakkeranna's Avatar
Canberra, OZ
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 168
This article is extremely relevant to how I approach paddling. Especially since I generally run with a crew of 5-10 males and maybe at most 1 other female (but usually not), usually on class 4-5 runs. A guide environment with a 50% mix of female-male class 3 boaters is not what is being discussed here. Of course men and women are both completely competent and capable of doing gross guide jobs and navigating whitewater, that's not what this article is about in any way.

It about the mental confidence block that comes in when you're surrounded by hard core (usually male) boaters who never seem to get nervous. It's when you're running drops with real, serious, consequences and you have to decide if you want to walk just because you're scared, or if you want to walk because you don't have the ability at that moment to run that specific drop and you can hurt yourself or put your crew in danger by being too ballsy. It's a very fine line to walk and I think the author makes some excellent points.
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Old 02-11-2013   #4
Bozeman, Montucky
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 33
That's how I saw it, I don't see myself as needing to be a guy paddler, sometimes I enjoy my timid approach to rafting. However if I want to progress and enter the world of class IV and V drops, there are certain areas of fear that I need to not over-analyze. At times I don't want to leave the eddy before the big rapid, despite rocking all the IIIs before and there were many areas of the article I could relate too. Thanks yak for your approach, I couldn't have said it better myself.
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Old 02-11-2013   #5
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
I liked the article. I think she did a good job of identifying typical male traits and how to attempt to harness those to take you out of your rut or routine. I bet they get a good laugh to this day!
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 02-11-2013   #6
North Bend, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 476
I liked the article to a point. I run fairly conservative lines because if I don't go back home at the end of the day to my kids- then there isn't anyone to take care of them. So- yeah, I have that mental thing preventing me from the likelyhood of ever doing any class V. I'm ok with that.

I'm a female guide and as far as I know- the only female guide with KIDS that works on the rivers around here. I may be wrong, but I have yet to have anyone say otherwise to me in the last 4 years. It changes my perspective a bit from the carefree days of being invincible in my 20's. I would have liked to have seen at least a mention of how to get through the mental "kid thing" so as to become a better boater.
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Old 02-12-2013   #7
Louisville, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 520
I spent a couple decades embracing my inner dumbass in multiple venues, most days I like facing my fears. But I am more conservative now that I have family, am pushing 40, and sit at a desk 5 days a week. This article is definitely writen from a younger, fitter, person's perspective. Go for it gals, things change as you age.
Also, guys are scared, they just don't talk about it and indulge it as much - especially the younger ones. But when you see a guy get out to scout a rapid, look at it for awhile, and then tighten his life jacket, and ask where the safety will be set, he has thought about the consequences of failing - and he is not dumbass.
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Old 02-12-2013   #8
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
I guess I should have been a bit more clear; the women I ran with would run anything the men would run. We regularly ran Cataract and twice the Grand Canyon. Didn't matter what sex the guides were, everyone ran everything.

The point I wanted to make is that guiding, whether class 1 with a bunch of city slickers who don't want that "icky" water touching them, or running Lava with a bunch of hard cases, is more about what's in your head than in your muscles. I think that was the point of the article as well.

We intentionally trained hard, following the theory that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Sex as a qualifier was never an issue. The result was that the women and men who survived training to be guides were every bit as qualified to guide a pontoon in Cataract. Didn't mean women did it the same way, or that the men weren't scared; it meant they had the same skill set and the confidence to do the job safely.
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Old 02-12-2013   #9
dillon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 281
I have been trying to break into class V for awhile now (last 2 years did not help at all as I hate pinning/hitting rocks) and I don't really think it's so much a gender issue as an experience issue. Kayaking isn't a physically difficult sport, but it is so mentally and emotionally challenging that it tends to weed out people who cannot learn to make their fear work for them. There are more dudes kayaking(which is a result of societal gender bias but that's for another thread) but the girls I've boated with who run class V are every bit as stoic and seemingly fearless as the guys.

I think it's pretty analogous to rock climbing, where the mentally calm and controlled people typically send the hardest routes. If you want to check out another great classic source of information on how to harness and control fear, read "Rock Warrior's Way" it is a great resource.

The "kayak like a guy" thing really throws me as well. Some of the best boaters I know are women who excel at reading water and use it to their advantage. It's like when the paper said Linsdey Vonn "Skis like a guy", No, she skis like a baddass, regardless of her gender.
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Old 02-12-2013   #10
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 486
I am a classic dumbass. Paddle first, think later.

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