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One of the best things about sport is that anyone can take part. Whether you’re a little out of shape or wanting to do something different with your kids, you’ll be able to have a great time on the water.
Whether you want a lazy weekend paddle down the river or a transatlantic mission, kayaking is both an incredible mode of transport and a great form of exercise. You can immerse yourself in it as little or as much as you want without risking your safety or anyone else’s. As a social sport, you’ll benefit from the interactions and community spirit of the local paddling scene. Kayaking is a fantastic way to meet new people, make new friends and embark on new journeys. You can distance yourself from the distractions of everyday life and take in the world from another, more tranquil perspective.
Kayaking is a combination of strokes, manoeuvres and balance between person, boat and paddle. It does require a certain degree of arm and core strength but don’t let this put you off – if you don’t have it straight away you’ll build up muscle quickly! Although you might feel unstable at first, anyone can master kayaking with a bit of practice. Learn the basic strokes on calm water; keeping your strokes short and close to the kayak as the further out the blade is, the more you’ll turn. Once you feel more comfortable you can learn how to turn and slow your kayak – from here the possibilities are endless! But remember – never attempt to white-water kayak unless you’ve taken lessons and go with an experienced instructor.
There are many different types of kayak so before you choose to invest in one (if you do), make sure it will be fit for purpose. You can buy anything from a white-water kayak to a touring kayak to an inflatable kayak, but for a general purpose model you’re looking at about £400-£600. Seek advice and think ahead; too many people buy a cheap, heavy boat and then find they are too much hassle to load and haul. If you choose to make this investment, it isn’t worth skimping on the paddle and we recommend buying an aluminium one with a fibreglass shaft; good quality equipment will make your kayaking as enjoyable out of the water as it will on! However, most kayaking clubs will have kayaks for hire, so don’t worry if you decide not to buy your own.
Our top tips:
1. Control is more important than speed, which is easy to acquire but difficult to work with!
2. Always plan your route from the exit/safe point you want to reach, and then work backwards to find a route which will take you there
3. Choose your buddies wisely – if you’re willing to risk your life to save them, make sure it’s reciprocated! A good dynamic is a key part of successful group kayaking
4. Know your limits to avoid finding yourself in tricky situations that you can’t paddle out of
5. Learn the dangers of cold water and how to protect yourself in this environment in case of emergency