Sea Kayaking is all about physics! Paddling in ocean waves applies the physics of your kayak with the physics of the paddling strokes that are used.

Principle One: A kayak is designed so that the bow of the kayak points into the wind on a windy and wavy day. You will need to “corrective” paddle to accommodate for this. This is a great time to use your rudder to save your arms from getting sore. Knowing how the kayak moves will help you know how to paddle into the waves.

Principle Two: There are three kinds of waves that you will experience kayaking. “Beam Waves” are waves that approach the side of your kayak as you travel across the water. Paddling when waves are pushing your kayak from behind is called a “following sea”. Heading straight into the waves is called “Head to wind”.

Principle Three: A kayak is the most stable in any kind of waves when it is in forward motion. Many novice paddlers want to lift their arms and let the kayak bob on the water. This is very unstable. Keeping your paddle in the water and moving forward is the most stable.

Principle Four: Paddling into the top or crest of a wave and pulling yourself through the trough of the wave can greatly reduce the bobbing effect. Your stroke will pull you over the deeper part of the trough making it a much smoother trip through the waves.

Principle Five:When paddling head to wind or in beam seas there are flat areas in between crests and troughs on an angled path. Following this path will greatly reduce the bouncing as you paddle through the waves.

Principle Six: In our last post we learned that waves travel in sets of approximately 5 to 7. In between there are pauses. These pauses are caused by the tendency of the wind to gust. When completing a landing in big waves, or a surf landing, it is best to take full advantage of the pause in between sets of waves. Taking time to study the wave patterns before paddling into shore is very important. Choose the last wave of the set to ride on the back of and once you have landed quickly remove your spray skirt and pull your kayak on shore before the next set of waves begins.

Principle Seven: When choosing a landing spot in big waves it is important to observe how the wave interacts with the shoreline. There will be smarter, flatter places to land based on this interaction. Take your time in deciding the best place to land your kayak.

Kayaking in waves can be exhilarating! Having excellent bracing techniques is essential if you are surfing in a kayak. Having rolling skills will make it a great challenge.

Above all ….Enjoy the Ride!!

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