Steve grooving on a new boof on the Lower Cosanga--day 1, nice warm up eh?
Good news fans, guest writer Liam is back in action! Check out what he has to say about the best week of kayaking he's had in Ecuador so far! Liam, the floor is all yours:
Liam leads Steve and Anders through one of many (too many to count really) rapids on the Upper Jondachi. Nice ferns on the wall behind them!
A round up of our advanced creeking clinic interjected with some of my personal,
inane and sometimes inconclusive thoughts about improving your boating.
Anders getting jiggy with the "Best Boof in the World"
Last week we were in safe hands with Steve the Doctor and Anders the Paramedic
joining us for a week of advanced creeking clinic.
Both Steve and Anders
had kayaked with us in Ecuador before and both were fit, confident kayakers. So
we needed something special to keep them on their toes. So the day before our
new group arrived Captain Darcy cracked open a beer, busted out her note pad,
carefully re-organized her highlighters and concocted the ultimate seven day
dream itinerary for the advanced boater.
Just writing this list makes my
boof muscles ache.
***Warning reading this may result in severe
jealousy, side effects include drooling and impromptu air ticket
Day 1.) Lower Cosanga
Day 2.) Oyacachi from the upper
most get on
Day 3.) The Upper Jondachi
Day 4.) The Piatua
Day 5.) The
Cheesehouse section of the Quijos.
Day 6.) The Upper Jondachi.
Bridge to bridge on the Quijos.
Liam--aka "Jungle Superman"--getting up close and personal with Ecuador's jungle
I get a real kick from watching people's learning styles. In my opinion Steve
and Anders had different approaches to reading rapids and learning. It was good
fun to watch them and they were great people to be on the river with.
After a boof or punching a hole I would often see Steve re-enacting the
movements in the eddy or gentle flow below. Especially when seeing someone else
uncork a good boof Steve would often immediately imitate the actions, training
Our little chameleon friend from Tena
Every time Steve nailed a boof one he'd be grinning before the boat landed.
Those moments came more and more as the week went on. In Particular I remember
the last rapid on the bridge to bridge section on the final day. I watched Steve
take of with perfect technique and just boof the crap out "Esquina." It was awesome to watch, and with that in mind I over thought the boof,
waited too long for my stroke, did absolutely nothing and slid over the edge like
an overweight penguin.
Luckily I was the sweep boat and no one saw how
ungraceful it really was.
Liam crushing "P-Cubed" on the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos
I really believe that over thinking rapids or boofs, etc can be detrimental to
the outcome. However, the other end of the spectrum is that the paddlers'
performance suffers due to not looking at the water ahead of them or a lack of visualization when scouting. They miss key strokes and get disorientated as all
their attention is on reacting to the immediate. Somewhere there is a happy
medium and your strokes will become fluid, effortless, focused. In short, you'll be in the 'zone.'
Steve looking small amongst the Jondachi's giant boulders as he exits Aphrodesia
Anders is a very solid kayaker and, from what I can guess, a shit hot skier. (I
understand more Ancient Latin Than I did of his ski terminology) and his
approach to improving was a much more subtle to watch and I imagine he was not
consciously trying to improve. But, alas, of course he did.
didn't quite nail a drop I saw the quickest flash of him assessing what just
happened and then carry on. That moment's reflection was him quickly assessing
what just happened and how to improve on that. Years of skiing have allowed him
to become very aware of how to make his muscles do what he wants. (kinesthetic
awareness). Anders has a pool of knowledge gained from skiing he can draw from
to improve his paddling. Those who practice yoga, Pilates, gymnastics, downhill
biking, surfing as well as paddle will often be able to improve themselves by
making analogies from other experiences in sport.
I really hope this is
true because maybe my experience in kayaking will prevent me from being terrible
when I try skiing.
Steve and Anders running some "stout boggie water" on the Oyacachi
The great thing about this job is that I constantly get to improve my paddling.
In fact it's one of the great things about this sport. You can always look to
improve your performance even on your local run.
It is also a sport that
is relatively friendly on the body allowing a long time to improve and hit your
peak. It doesn't rely completely on physical fitness but much of what makes a
good paddler is technique and experience. I'm 26 now and I hope to be a whole
lot better than this in my mid thirties. I might not be paddling as hard stuff
when I'm 56 but I reckon I'll make a lot less mistakes.
Anders, basking in the glory of having just styled 3 Huevos on the Upper Jondachi
I do make a constant effort to improve. It's not just down to time in a boat;
it's a mixture of time in a boat and constantly giving myself new tasks and
reflecting back on what worked etc. This is often referred to as varied
A recent example of this is; I tried to run the Piatua this
trip with no reverse strokes. Reverse strokes aren't necessarily bad but by
giving myself this tasking made re-think my paddling and try new things.
Steve, maintaining his focus. He's 1/2 km into a 10 km run and knows he needs to save some energy and mental powers for what lays ahead
Let's sum this up by destroying a cliche.
Practice makes perfect.
Unfortunately this isn't true 'practice makes permanent' is a more
accurate phrase. For example if you keep trying to boof with a bad forward
stroke and leaning right back then your going to keep getting the same poor
results and unfortunately every time your making it hard wiring it in to your
muscle memory and in the long term making it harder to learn proper technique.
A common scenario in paddling is when you meet someone who says they
are class three paddler, you join them on a class three paddle and they are all
over the place. Speaking later they inform you "I don't know whats going on,
I paddle my local class three all the time." In short they know how to paddle
that particular class three run but they are not a class three paddler.
Liam signing "boof baby boof" all the way down 3 Huevos
Variety is a great tool to help improve yourself as a paddler. Try new things,
new strokes, new boats, new lines, new paddling buddies, new roles in the group
and new rivers.
Well that's quite enough from me, would love to know your
thoughts, time to go paddling!