10 Reasons Why Sea Kayakers Should Try Whitewater

While launching your kayak off waterfalls may not be everyone’s cup of tea, whitewater kayaking can be an excellent skill-building tool for sea kayakers. We may not all have the opportunity to paddle regularly in ocean waters, but no matter how landlocked we might be, chances are that somewhere nearby is a river with a bit of current. Spending time paddling in moving water (river or ocean!) can exponentially increase your comfort level and skill in your boat—and best of all, it’s fun!

Always remember to carry (and know how to use) your safety equipment, paddle within your limits, and consider taking a course from your local whitewater club or organisation. Here are 10 skills you can hone by paddling in moving water:


Low brace, high brace, edging—your paddling instincts and reflexes will rapidly develop when you paddle in conditions where you need to react quickly. The river gives honest and direct feedback!


Practicing turns on flatwater is a good starting point, but there’s nothing like a crisp eddy turn to show us if our strokes are effective or need some fine-tuning. Don’t feel like launching yourself down a whitewater river? No worries – if your local lake has a creek or small river flowing into it, you can start practicing at the mouth.

Loose hips

You’ve likely heard the expression that loose hips save ships. Paddling in moving water is a great way to work on your poise and balance in lively conditions. And if it didn’t work, see the next point.


Let’s face it… while we often practice our rolls in calm conditions, how often do we actually need to do a roll under pressure? Whitewater paddling offers plenty of opportunities to gain rolling proficiency in dynamic conditions, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes instinctive.


Exploring whitewater demands that we develop good communication skills with our paddling partners—also a useful attribute for sea kayaking.

Dynamic conditions

Paddling in dynamic conditions such as whitewater requires quick thinking, decisive moves and the ability to smoothly link a variety of strokes.

Confidence builder

Testing and developing your skills in whitewater can be a huge confidence builder for sea kayaking in more challenging conditions.

Understanding of current and water

Observing rapids and moving water (and then paddling in it!) will improve your understanding of how your boat behaves in different conditions—and how to make it behave just the way you want!

Transferrable skills

Ferrying, bracing, rolling, and overall boat handling are all skills that develop more quickly when we use them regularly through playing in whitewater—and they are all directly transferrable to sea kayaking.

Pure fun

Whether surfing on your friendly local wave or going for a daytrip down a beautiful river, whitewater paddling is addictively fun!


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