Remember when you were a Boy Scout or Girl Guide and you worked hard to earn all those merit badges? There was a sequence to them and you couldn’t get some badges before achieving others. The same rules should apply on the river. Before you jump ahead to your aerial merit badge, master the blunt kayak move and you will open the gateway to more advanced boating.
4 steps to master the blunt
In a blunt, dig your bow into the face of the wave, throw your stern almost vertically off the wave and swing from a front surf to a back surf. Follow these four easy steps to pull it off without a hitch.
1 Start high on the water
Begin high up on a wave so that you can generate speed carving down the face of it and so that you will have room to complete the blunt while still on the wave. You can still blunt in the trough, but it will likely cause you to flush.
Initiate your blunt with one last aggressive forward thrust stroke on the downstream side when you are no more than halfway down the wave. This will give you a boost of speed and allow you to pop the bow up out of the water in anticipation of throwing it back down into the wave.
2 Wind up, plant and tilt
Turn your body aggressively into your spin and snap your boat onto its other edge while putting in a back stroke on the upstream side. This short stroke starts at your hips and ends at your knees.
3 Bow down and stern over
With shoulders perpendicular to the wave crest, throw your weight forward, forcing your stern up into the air so it pivots around the bow as it slices into the wave. Think of swinging your butt into the air as you keep your eyes looking into the wave.
How much you tilt your boat determines how vertical you go. Too little tilt and you end up doing a roundhouse. If you tilt too aggressively you virtually do a cartwheel on the wave and fall on your head.
4 Land flat and back surf
As your stern comes back down flatten out your edge so you land flat in a back surf. Use a backstroke to accelerate and stay on the wave and give you a rudder at your bow. Enjoy the back surf or spin back up to the foam pile for another blunt.
A common mistake is to put too much emphasis on the strokes while forgetting about proper body movements and timing. If you time the body movements correctly—squaring your shoulders at a right angle to the wave and throwing your butt in the air—you shouldn’t even need a paddle to blunt. Scout’s honour!
This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2006 issue of Rapid Magazine and in Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.
The blunt is freestyle’s meritorious intermediate kayak move. | Photo: Rapid archives