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Tom’s Top Tips for Tailees

Whether you call it a Tailee, a Stern Squirt, or a Tail Squirt (but never a Pirouette!), this is a classic playboating move and the very root of freestyle. Where it all began, you might say. Done well, a tailee can be sublime, but it is a deceptive move. It appears simple, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I was honoured enough to run a workshop on them last weekend at the Paddle in the Park festival in sunny Nottingham, UK. It was so well received that Mat at Pyranha asked me to jot a few short tips down to help you add some finesse to your moves.

So, make a cup of tea, dim the lights (or switch them off if you don’t have a dimmer), sit back, and enjoy!

Boat choice is very important; something with a low volume, slicey stern is what you’re looking for. This guy is just making life needlessly hard for himself.
Tailees definitely require you to be in the boat; just sticking a deck on your kayak and throwing it in while you stand on the side will attract scorn from the purists.
Try to keep both hands on your paddles; this chap has clearly been drinking too much Dandelion and Burdock and has got carried away with things. Not a good example to the youngsters.
Angle of approach is key; this is remarkably obtuse, leading to all sorts of adventures.
That’s more like it! Just do it like this guy here, he seems to have got the hang of it.

So there you go, some simple tips to help your tailees go with a bang. Finally, remember this: John Lennon once said, ‘Someone getting vertical in their boat is either really into kayaking, or knows someone who is really into kayaking…’

Photos by Tom Clare Photography