The two main obstacles to every paddler’s advancement are the shortage of boating buddies as well as the lack of skill development. It certainly is more enjoyable to paddle canoes and kayaks with others but this is not the only impetus propelling one’s search for a paddling companion. Kayaking and canoeing in groups is a simple matter of safety as well as the best way to improve one’s skills.
Every whitewater kayaker knows the disappointment of finding out that the local river is at optimal conditions only to remember there is no one to go with. Regardless of the level at which you canoe or kayak, this list of 5 suggestions will help you not only find new paddling friends it will also help you further hone your skills.
1. Go to canoeing and Kayak Festivals & Expos
Going to canoe and kayak festivals is by far the most exciting way to grow in this sport. These events offer a great venue to meet other boaters, try out new equipment, take a free lesson, find great deals on gear and even watch the pros doing what we love best.
Paddling festivals occur all over the country and at different times of the year. It is conceivable that a person could actually fill up his or her paddling calendar just by traveling from event to event.
2. Join a Local Canoe and Kayak Club
Almost everywhere there is water you will find a local paddling club. Paddling clubs are great for the simple reason that they are made up of regular people who are looking for a way to connect with others who share their passion.
Joining a club usually provides members with two main things. First, there will always be someone you can learn from. Second, you can usually find someone who paddles at the same ability as you which always makes things more enjoyable.
3. Join the American Canoe Association and the American Whitewater Association
The American Canoe Association is the foremost authority on canoeing and kayaking in this country. American Whitewater advocates for boaters’ rights and river conservation. There are a few reasons to join these associations.
Each membership comes with a publication on the latest news and events around the country with regard to paddling. They also have posted the latest standards, tips, and information that every paddler should make sure they know.
Finally, since these associations are nonprofit organizations, your membership serves as a donation to the causes of the sport you love so much.
4. Try Out Other People’s Canoe and Kayak Gear
The most useful way for you to understand how the equipment you use affects your paddling is to try out all types of boats, paddles, gloves, and whatever else you can get your hands on. I always recommend trying out the boat before you buy it. Many shops will charge you for the right to demo one of their kayaks.
Every time you are on the water is an opportunity for you to try out other people’s kayaks and canoes. Most boaters will welcome the chance to swap boats with you while in an eddy or at your favorite surf spot. Your best bet and the first round of boat swaps should be among you and your friends.
5. Take a Canoe or Kayak Paddling Lesson
The best way to improve your paddling skills is to take a lesson. It’s one thing to learn a sport informally through the help of others and it is a completely different thing to learn the proper technique that will advance your skills to the next level. This tip goes for paddlers of all levels.
If you are just starting out, take a beginner’s lesson. If you are an intermediate take a more advanced class. Even if you consider yourself an expert, why not become a certified instructor? There are even whitewater kayaking schools if that’s the genre you’re into. With each lesson you take your level of ability will increase by leaps and bounds.