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Breaking Out of the Routine

It is a very strange notion to think that despite whitewater being a predominately foreign environment to human beings, we are still able to get familiar, complacent, and stuck in a routine while interacting with it. We are all guilty of it, how often do you find yourself going to your local river and repeating the same moves over and over again? How often do you look at lines that other people are doing and think “I wish I could do that?”

I fully understand it, and I’m definitely guilty of it myself. It can be scary trying new things on the river, however, I think it’s a large part of why I find kayaking so addictive. Figuring out new lines in my kayak provides me with a unique mix of creative problem solving and acquisition of new skills in a fast-paced and beautiful environment.

Below are my secrets to staying creative and flexible on the water, no matter how many times you have been on a section of the river:

Surround yourself with friends. Different people have different outlooks from different walks of life and can offer a refreshing take on things. Recently, I was kayaking with my mate Benny and he was trying to “whip” his kayak over the backs of waves to imitate mountain bike racers.

Look for the opposite. If you normally run a rapid on the left, have a look if you can go right. If you normally stay in the flow, see if you can find a rock to boof off. If you normally go forwards, can you go switch?

Embrace the tingles. We all know that feeling of being nervous on the water, and while it can be a bit much at times, I think it’s a really fun emotion. It also helps to condition you for stepping up and out of your comfort zone on harder rivers.

Try new kayaks. If you normally rock a creek kayak, get in a freestyle kayak. If you want the best of both worlds, grab a Ripper. Different kayak designs open up new realms on the river, and the best kayakers are the ones who spend time in a quiver of different boats.

Enjoy the learning curve. The problem-solving aspect of figuring out new things on the river is addictive. A lot of the time, it’s going to take a few attempts to hit a line; don’t let that put you off. Enjoy the moments of buffoonery, because they all add up to make it feel that much better when you do hit the line.

Best of luck to everyone trying to keep things fresh on the river and learn new things this season!

Catch you on the water,