When you’re nervous, anxious, or fearful, you don’t perform at your best. But you already knew that. When we start to envision the worst-case scenario, our bodies stiffen up and we lose sight of our well-ingrained knowledge of proper skill and technique. Our negative energy is almost magnetic, too. When visualizing failure over success, failure often follows.
Water is inherently scary–you also knew that. Coupled with the many ocean variables–capsizing in shallow water, navigating rock gardens, paddling through unpredictable waves, surges, and hydraulics–it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with fear while sea kayaking.
Advanced paddler Kayak Hipster offers up his advice for dealing with–and overcoming–fear on the water in a number of different scenarios.
A confident and skilled instructor can help put you at ease. You’ll be encouraged to push your boundaries and try things that make you uncomfortable, with the knowledge that you’re learning in a safer, supervised environment.
Pacing will look different for every paddler. Kayak Hipster opts to play around in smaller waves to get comfortable in the boat before approaching larger sets of waves. He spends time holding his spot, sitting sideways to the wave and back surfing on small waves.
Practise & Seat Time
It’s not about having the perfect conditions every time. It’s important to get out and practice at every opportunity. Some low-tide activities include rolling, forward strokes, racing, and other basic strokes. The more time spent in your kayak, the more comfortable you will be when trickier situations arise.
Use Appropriate Safety Gear
Wearing the appropriate gear helps you overcome most all things the ocean can throw at you. It’s a great idea to sport a helmet for activities like rock gardening and always wear a drysuit and appropriate thermal layering to suit the conditions you’re in. The correct safety equipment is one variable you can completely control.
Visualize Your Next Move
Visualize what might happen in every scenario you enter. This means thinking ahead of time about what you might do if something happens to you. For example, if you’re going to get hit by a wave, visualize what it’ll be like being upside down and imagine how you’ll roll-up. Or, envision the steps you need to follow to make a wet exit from your boat should your roll fail you.
Featured video and tips courtesy of Kayak Hipster.