Other Instructional and Fun Kayaking Videos

Here are some of our favorite videos from around the web – some instructional and some just great river running.

A safety lesson well learned.

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Featured, Instructional | 0 comments


John and a crew ran the Gorge and Canyon sections of the Big South Fork this past Monday. A splendid and cold winter paddle was enjoyed by all, but a safety lesson was reinforced by a paddler whose head made contact with a rock. The following photograph demonstrates the solid reasoning that whitewater paddlers must wear good helmets, PFD’s, and other safety gear.

SweetRockerSplitCan you imagine the injury that a paddler NOT wearing a helmet would have sustained? Fortunately the paddler was wearing the appropriate safety equipment and was not injured.

The lesson is simple! Get good gear and use it!

Follow this link to see the video.








Is Rolling With Hand Paddles Easy?

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Instructional, Our Videos | 0 comments

My how far we’ve come! Just last June I was struggling to roll just in flat water with the help of an instructor. This week I showed the guys how I learned to roll a creek boat with hand paddles (see video below). The key, well, there is no key. It’s a hell of a lot easier to roll with hand paddles than a paddle with a shaft. You get so much more resistance that it’s like catching water with a shovel. I guess the key is ‘not to slice’ and make sure, before you start your roll, that your hand paddles are facing the river bed, that way you get maximum ‘purchase.’ If you lean back on your back deck during your hip snap you may roll right back up and over the other side – you get THAT much power with these hand paddles.

The set up position is a bit different than with a paddle. I start (upside down, underwater, of course) with my hands by my knees, left ear tucked to the side of the boat.

To explain the hand positioning, do this: let your hands hang at your side, palms facing out. Your left hand is good to go. Take your right hand, palm facing out, and move it to your left knee (your hands are now on your left knee, palms facing out). Now rotate your right hand counter-clockwise so your palm is facing your knee. Now keep rolling it in that same direction so your palm is facing outward again. Yes, this is awkward and your arm will feel like it’s being corkscrewed. But this how you get maximum purchase with the blade. Be sure to keep your elbow of your right arm slightly bent or you’ll strain your shoulder.

Now, sweep out in a big arc over your head, away from the boat and down, and hip snap. Pull your head up last, as usual, and you’ll pop right up.

Next step, get the balls to run a river just with hand paddles . . .



Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Featured, Instructional | 0 comments

As 2013 comes to an end, Rob, Dan and I close the chapter on our first year of whitewater adventures. We’ve paddled rapids well-known to Kentucky boaters: Elkhorn Creek, the Upper Russell Fork, Barren River at the BGMU dam, Cumberland River below the falls, just to name a few . . . and several lesser known stretches like the Gasper, the lower falls of the Ohio and Woodbury Lock IV. The pursuit of whitewater  has taken us to several places. We’ve traveled to Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. We’ve strapped in and run rivers under a scorching sun, through heavy wind and blinding rain, past flood-swollen banks and even in sub-freezing temperatures with snow fall. Often, we kayak in weird conditions just to say we did that, ‘we ain’t scared.’

And we buy gear. We bought gear. We’ll buy more gear. Boats, helmets, gloves, shoes, socks, knives, ropes, throw bags, dry bags, float bags and, of course, gear bags to hold all of our gear. We took our first whitewater trip in May of 2012, paddling 10.5 ft ‘rec boats’ with spray skirts that couldn’t hold more than a lap-full of water before they imploded. At the end of 2013, we’re paddling 7.5 ft Daggers, Jacksons, Liquid Logics and Pyrhannas. In May, none of us could roll a kayak. Now, two of us can and Rob is working on it. Through the year, as our skills improved, so did our boats and our gear.

Yes’ir, it’s been one hell of a year – one hell of an expensive year – but all the gear we bought, we put to the test and we loved. Well, we didn’t love everything we bought. And with that thought, here’s our GEAR OF THE YEAR (GOTY) AWARDS – a short list of the items that we truly felt were worth the money – and those that weren’t.



(GOTY RUNNER-UP AWARD) Worth It – Jackson Karma: Ace Kayaking School has a fleet of Karmas and that’s what Dan and Rob paddled when we were under their care for two days on the Ocoee. Dan loved the Karma so much he came home and bought one. Rob loved the Karma so much that he openly expresses his regret of owning a Mamba, which Rob says is ‘tippier.’ I swear, ‘Karma’ is all I hear about. The Karma is the PERFECT boat for beginners because it’s very forgiving and easy to roll.

Not Worth It – Padding a Rec Boat on whitewater: Dan held out for several months, but after the Ocoee trip he came to his senses and realized a rec boat just isn’t cut out for Class II-III water. If you plan on running rapids, don’t waste money buying a rec boat. Get a whitewater kayak.



Worth It – The Lucky Charm. The rubber rand did not implode on Dan or me this season and kept the boat reasonably dry.

Not Worth It – The Lucky Charm. Confused? Well, we loved the Lucky Charm during warm weather. But when it gets cold, the rubber is nearly impossible to stretch. On our 28 degree F run, it took us 10 minutes to get each of our skirts on. If you paddle in cold conditions, consider another skirt.



(GOTY WINNER) Worth It – Werner Sho-Gun. Jeezus, this paddle is like crack. Let someone try it and they want more of it. When I upgraded my paddle in June, I got the Sho-Gun because I heard it helps with your roll. ‘Myth confirmed.’ When Dan was learning to roll, he struggled. I let him borrow my Sho-Gun and he nailed his roll like 10 times in a row. It came to a point where Dan couldn’t roll unless he had my Sho-Gun. So, of course, Rob wanted one. Dan has since ordered his own Sho-Gun and Rob is pricing them.

Not Worth It – That cheap paddle from Dick’s Sporting Goods. The guy who bought my boat went cheap and got a paddle from Dick’s. It was too short for his frame and didn’t float. Of course, he struggled to progress and eventually lost the paddle on East Race (which is very hard to do). When I got the Sho-Gun, he bought Rob’s AquaBound paddle that I had been using.



Worth It – Shred Ready Half-Cut Helmet. I’ve hit my head so many times, and this helmet has taken the abuse, that it WOULD BE the GOTY winner but I seem to be the only one of us who flips and hits his head. I played football, dabbled in MMA and have had several concussions in my life – not one of them was while kayaking, I think, thanks to this helmet.

Not Worth It – NRS Paddling Gloves. I bought some gloves before paddling the Upper Russell Fork in late October. These gloves suck. I don’t want to say ALL NRS Gloves suck, but the ones I got suck hard. They don’t keep my hands warm and actually the plastic in the gloves gets real stiff when it’s cold so my hand cramps and tires easily. I always end up taking them off and dealing with the pain of frozen fingers. I’m going to try the Toaster Mitts or Pogies instead.


A few more ‘Worth It’ – Rocker PFD, GoPro Hero III, Kokatat Rogue (get a size larger than chart suggests), NRS HydroSkin

A few more ‘Not Worth It’ – GoPro Hero WiFi Remote,  Foam blocks that go on top of your car/SUV, NRS 9 ft straps (great strops but just get the 15 ft for like $1 more)





Whitewater Kayaking Gym Workout

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Featured, Instructional | 0 comments

In a few weeks, Rob, Dan and I are heading down to Ace Kayaking School for a two-day instruction. Ace has a great reputation for making noobs good paddlers and turning good paddlers into beasts. I can’t tell you how many people told me, ‘oh, (insert dude they know) went to Ace and came back a different paddler.’ We’re excited.

I’m also a bit concerned. Dan and Rob will probably be grouped together, will work on getting a roll down and will practice on class II or III water. But I’ve got my roll. I’ve notched 10+ combat rolls. That’s not a ton but I’m proud and Joe at Ace knows I have a roll. I’m thinking I’ll be on my own with an instructor who will teach me how to ferry, catch eddies, eddy hop, surf and test my roll skills in class III and IV water. CLASS IV! That scares the shit out of me. I’ve got 15 days from today to get ready.

So, I’m hitting the gym and hitting the local rapids – HARD.

I can’t find any gym routines designed for whitewater kayaking. So, I made one today and I thought I’d share to maybe give you a starting point and to get your feedback.

Of course, I’m want to swim in the pool. Not for distance, but sprints. My post-flip river swims have been short, intense swims to get out of a current and into an eddy, away from a strainer, or just get closer to shore. My PFD does a good job keeping me afloat, so I’m not too concerned about running out of steam on a mile-long swim. I need to swim fast, hard and not run out of juice. Ergo, sprints. I’m doing 20 full length sprints in an Olympic-size pool three times a week.

For weights, I’m focusing on pulling motions and flexibility, mostly upper body. Here’s my workout tonight. Took me 45 minutes.

Warmed up with the row machine, hardest resistance, 500 meters. Tried rowing like I would in a kayak – not using legs, leaning forward, pulling to one side or another.

Five sets of bench press with 135 lbs: S1 – 8, S2 – 8, S3 – 8 . . . 95lbs for these sets: S4 – 6, S5 – as many as I can get.

Three sets of straight bar curls (I used the long bench press bar) 45 lbs: S1 – 8 . . . 55 lbs: S2 – 8 . . . 60 lbs: S3 – 6

Three sets on the low row machine with 45lbs (per arm). There were two grip options and I mixed it up with each set.

One set of preacher curls (for no other reason than I like them). 50 lbs + bent bar: S1 – 6.

Five sets of 10 sit ups on the sloped sit up bench. I held a 6 lbs medicine ball with arms fully extended. When I leaned back, I touched the ball on the ground behind me, behind my head. When I sat up, I brought the ball with me like I was throwing it over my head and touched it on the frame that held my legs in place. Always kept my arms extended.

In between my sit up sets, I stood on this platform that had half a ball under it. I focused on my balance and it worked my hips like no other. Good for the hip snap, I’m thinking. I stood on it for maybe 1 minute at a time. It was tough. I tried to squat while on it and it was crazy how my balance shifted rapidly back and forth.

This one was cool. I got on that bench that allows you to bend over, forward at your hips. I grabbed a thin 15 lbs bar bell and held it like was my paddle. When I leaned over, I acted like I was getting in my setup position to roll. When I sat up I did so like I was executing my sweep roll. I did it to both sides. Jeez, that was hard on the lower back and hips but totally a great workout. I did two sets of five.

By this time, I was pooped. I had planned on swimming but forgot my goggles. I know, I won’t have goggles in the river but the river doesn’t have chlorine.

So, what do you think? A good workout or not for whitewater kayaking?




Basic White Water Safety and Rescue

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Instructional, Video | 0 comments

Good instruction on what to do after you wet-exit in a rapid (and believe me, if you’re pushing yourself to learn and go bigger WW, wet-exit is going to happen a decent amount).

The Drowning Machine – Old School Video

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Instructional, Video | 0 comments

This video is awesome in it’s old-ness. Super long intro, mustaches and a ‘dark school room projector’ feel.

MUST WATCH: What is a Hydraulic?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Instructional, Video | 0 comments

There’s a section toward the end about how municipalities can mitigate the hydraulic danger. If you get through the whole video, you’ll feel a lot smarter about hydraulics and how they work – which might save your life.


Learning to Roll: John’s Email to Dan

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Featured, Instructional, Video | 0 comments

Here is an email from John to Dan after John learned to roll his Wavesport Y, thanks to Justin Thompson’s instruction in Louisville, KY. John isn’t an instructor, so take his ‘steps’ with a grain of salt. But his message is solid and his commentary on the video below is something beginners should follow.


Check out that vid, Dan (see below). If you really want to roll, it’s not too hard if you have a good skirt, hip braces and some practice. I’m not 100% confident I can roll on command but I’ve done it now 20 times. I’d say I can do it 75% of the time on still water. I’m hoping after 50 times it’ll be automatic. No idea if I can do it yet in a Class II or III.


For me, the first step was understanding that there IS a set up. When I try to roll and miss, I come back to this set up starting point and reset. When we had the instructor with us I tried, missed, reset, tried again, missed, reset, tried again, missed, reset, tried again and hit it. The whole time I was under water. Probably 10-12 seconds total but it’s not scary.


When you’re under water, you gotta twist and push your hands UP and OUT of the water (34 second mark) and right next to the side of your boat. At this point, I’m basically staring at the sky but my head is under water. Exaggerate this when you practice. You’ll never be high enough your first time. When your hands are out of the water, you know it because the paddle rotates with ease. If you hands aren’t high enough your paddle will rotate but not easily and you won’t have enough force to roll. Instructor said your blade has to be within a foot of the surface to get enough downward force.


Step 2 is rotating your hands so the blade in your left hand is under your butt (37 second mark). The right one needs to be out 90 degrees BUT above water or close to it. My first error was this: when I rotated, I wouldn’t keep pushing toward the sky and the blade in my right hand would go under water two feet. It’s like a yoga stretch, believe me. You need that blade to be above water or within the first foot of water (from the surface). Look where his blade is at the 1:01 mark. You also need that blade to be parallel with the water but that’s fairly intuitive.


Step 3 is a combo of pulling that right blade straight down, keeping that blade flat so you get a good pull down and twisting your hips. You need hip braces to do this. Without a tight hip brace your body will basically twist IN the boat rather than twisting the boat WITH your body. I got that part easy but I had a problem of pulling the blade down and backward, which caused it to slice horizontally. You need to pull straight down to get enough force to support your roll.


Step 4 is the hardest in my opinion. You gotta keep your head down and back. Imagine: you set up, twisted your paddle, pulled down and now you feel your boat starting to roll, you feel your hips getting level with the water, your stomach comes up, you can see the light and boom, you pull your head up too fast and you go back under like a bag of rocks. If you can take a breath during a roll, your head is up too fast. Your head and shoulders are heavy. It sucks to get halfway up a roll and fall back down. So, your head has to stay in the water until the boat is 90% rolled. You can’t even think about breathing until after you’ve rolled. Look at 1:11 mark. You’ll see that his head and shoulders are basically loose, his boat is nearly rolled but his head is still under water. Even at 1:12 he couldn’t breathe if he wanted to. That’s what you need. I’m happy to work with you when I’m in town or our next roadtrip. In addition to the outfitting I mentioned above, you’ll want nose clips. Trust me on that one.


Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Instructional, Video | 0 comments

This guy Simon puts together great videos. He’s got a series on kayaking, which is wonderful stuff for beginners to learn the terms and technique behind whitewater kayaking’s lingo and moves.


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