Mantra for rough water

3 months 4 weeks ago #37852 by jazzman
Replied by jazzman on topic Mantra for rough water
Fabulous post with some great thoughts , Cryder. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

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3 months 4 weeks ago - 3 months 4 weeks ago #37854 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Mantra for rough water
I agree that elite skis / k1's improve balance, because balance is learned skill and not just innate reflex. Yes, there is such a thing as innate balance, but I would describe that as merely the first rung on the balance ladder. Some gifted ones get to start on the second or even the third rung if they are a generational talent... but no one starts on the top.

So how to actually do it? Progression. Moving to a more demanding craft at the right time / place is a crucial tool for continuing to progress those balance skills and climb the development ladder until it's feasible (maybe not always wise) to paddle an elite in ski in damn near anything.

There are a matrix of assets and liabilities that factor in progression to take place safely. Just hopping in a demanding boat needs to be done carefully and in consideration of what the end goal is vs the resources to actually get there. Our sport is very unique in that there is such a fine line between "I'm having the best day of my life!" and "Oh shit, this might be the last day of my life..."  Things that I personally believe need to factor in balance progression; physical fitness, psychology, risk tolerance, safety measures and exposure.

There may be others, but those are top of mind. The last one; exposure is the key. It isn't just bucket time, but intentional bucket time. Drills. Critique. Variation of conditions that combine to make a personal catalogue of experience, knowledge, wisdom and capability. It's unique for elite or even highly developed paddlers to be surprised on the water. It does happen however, and when it does it can be lethal because that may involve a degree of exposure that excludes immediate rescue (I personally nearly perished attempting to solo the West Coast of Vancouver Island in some truly heinous conditions and gear failure). 

I'm going to pivot to something controversial now and say that I am NOT in the zero feather camp. Having worked with paddlers who have attempted this approach, I have noticed nearly universally sloppy catch and a host of connection issues related to a general lack of core engagement (no tripod). I am of the opinion that it prioritizes bracing above actually paddling, and while well intended, is a crutch that ultimately interferes with paddler progression. Zero feather paddlers progress more slowly, paddle more slowly and have to unlearn very bad habits later; ironically including learning dynamic bracing (bracing to catch described in my first post). While I am not a fan of arguments from authority, I don't know of a single elite / pro racer using zero feather today, and it's not because they haven't tried it or were simply taught another way. If something can produce even a decimal point of improvement, they'll do it. I've personally experimented with it, and recorded my data. I am far more biomechanically efficient at 62º feather than I am even 45º. It drops off a cliff at 40º and beyond to zero. End rant. 
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3 months 4 weeks ago #37855 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Mantra for rough water
Cryder, I don't know if you were the one who coined the term "find your feet", but that one tip stuck out in my head and really helped me yesterday. I've only had my v10 for a little over a month. I've tried challenging myself in various conditions, but at the same time respecting the 40 something degree water. Yesterday started out as glass, but with a ton of boat wakes. One nut job was doing circles around me on a jetski wearing cotton sweatpants and a cotton hoodie sweatshirt. I can handle pretty large boat wakes head on and from the beam, but when they came from every direction at the same time I kind of froze and prepared for a brace. Then I remembered "find your feet" and consciously pressed down and remembered correct leg drive and powered through the wakes. Having the solid point of contact makes a difference but the physcological factor was what really saved me.

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3 months 4 weeks ago #37856 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Mantra for rough water

Epicpaddler wrote: Cryder, I don't know if you were the one who coined the term "find your feet", but that one tip stuck out in my head and really helped me yesterday. I've only had my v10 for a little over a month. I've tried challenging myself in various conditions, but at the same time respecting the 40 something degree water. Yesterday started out as glass, but with a ton of boat wakes. One nut job was doing circles around me on a jetski wearing cotton sweatpants and a cotton hoodie sweatshirt. I can handle pretty large boat wakes head on and from the beam, but when they came from every direction at the same time I kind of froze and prepared for a brace. Then I remembered "find your feet" and consciously pressed down and remembered correct leg drive and powered through the wakes. Having the solid point of contact makes a difference but the physcological factor was what really saved me.


Nice! Love to help other paddlers get more out of sport. I am not sure the origin of the phrase, it's just something I started saying to myself as I paddled big, messy water and pushing myself to get better. In recent years I've really keyed in on the power of self talk in many facets of life.

One quick comment about foot pressure and bracing; it's also super helpful even if you decide to brace because it not only helps you be more stable through connection, it also gives you far more control to either lean and steer the ski or keep it upright to finish with an opposite side catch. 

Important Disclaimer: Foot pressure only works well if the footboard is correctly positioned to create lower butt pressure and still allow for leg drive / rotation. 
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3 months 4 weeks ago #37857 by wesley
Replied by wesley on topic Mantra for rough water
I would add to Cryder's comments which I like and recognize:

"Things that I personally believe need to factor in balance progression; physical fitness, psychology, risk tolerance, safety measures and exposure." 

These items are part of the broad categories above that most veteran ocean paddlers have thought about or have experienced while new paddlers have not thought about unless they have taken lessons from instructors who teach those very subjects that Cryder lays out. I say this having given many lessons over the many years of sea kayaking and surfski paddling and incorporate in my lesson to varying degrees.  1. New paddlers and some intermediate paddlers are not set up properly in their skis or their paddle so they start off being unstable. 2. Situational ocean awareness: what is tide/current/wind/headlands/depth of water/topography,etc and how to predict what the sea state may be like before you are in it so you can prepare mentally(visualize) for it and most importantly have a rehearsed PLAN to manage the physical and mental aspects of it. 3. Know your personal anxiety triggers. One of my triggers is that I need to be fully fueled(food) before a very rough paddle otherwise my anxiety is greater than it normally would be. So know your triggers and your partners so you can help them manage theirs if need be. 4. Safety/Communication equipment. I recently added a waist leash to my safety equipment to augment my paddle leash. Why? I am getting older and my risk tolerance, particularly in elite skis, has diminished. 5. Risk tolerance: we are all wired differently, with different experiences and exposures. Many of my paddling buddies have a higher risk tolerance for big water than I do. I know this going in and take the necessary precautions so I don't feel overwhelmed, ie more stable ski, letting them know I am turning now, or I not going today, or lets do another course. 6. My mantra in big stuff that I tell myself is just "keep paddling, I have been here before".  Lastly, I am fond of saying "we are all products of the water we train in", ie exposure. 

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.
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3 months 3 weeks ago #37862 by jazzman
Replied by jazzman on topic Mantra for rough water
Great post, Wesley. Thank you very much.

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