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Teaching Children How to Paddle – Part 2

The first thing you need to teach your kid is to get into the boat. It’s always good to remember that W kayakers don’t get their feet wet because we enter the cockpit from the back and exit it from the bow, unless we dock. In such case it doesn’t really matter how the child enters or exits the boat as long as he/she does it slowly and carefully.

Generally speaking, when teaching a child how to paddle you shouldn’t set your expectations too high: Some kids are fast learners and some are not. There’s no point in accelerating the pace, as it’s better for the student to enjoy the whole process.

There are two basic sets of skills that every paddler, including children need to master. The first has to do with propulsion and control, and the second is navigation.

Propulsion and control include both getting the kayak to move forward and preventing it from tipping over. It’s easy to teach children to propel a W Kayak because they can focus just on it instead of diverting their attention to balancing, which can rather difficult in traditional kayaks. The W kayak is very stable yet only 25″ wide, which contributes to easy paddling and learning.

It’s easier for small kids to use a double blade (‘kayak style’) paddle when they paddle solo but it’s also easier for them to use single blade (‘canoe style’) paddles when paddling in tandem with another kid. This is because children’s coordination skills not well developed at an early age and they develop over the years. Practically, this means that having two inexperienced kids kayaking in tandem would inevitably cause their paddles to hit each other.

Generally, it’s advised to start on a pond or a small, shallow lake, and in pleasant weather. The presence of wind while they’re paddling without an adult onboard might distract kids and confuse them.
You’d preferably take the child paddling with you several times before letting him or her try to do it alone.

Five year old kayaking solo Five year old kids kayaking in tandem

Yoav

Teaching Children How To Paddle – Part 1

Before anything else: Kids who go in kayaks must always wear a suitable PFD (personal flotation device), and they need to know how to swim.

Children like to go on water. Whether it’s fishing, touring or playing in waves – they very much enjoy paddling, and as they grow up they tend to prefer to do it by themselves.

Small children starting at age five can be taught how to paddle a W Kayak solo and in tandem. The process requires time and patience but it’s fun both for the kids and their parents.
Obviously, before attempting to teach anyone paddling you’d better be a reasonably good paddler yourself…

Being small and lightweight a child has no balance problem when in the W kayak. This is an important fact since feeling at ease from the start facilitates learning.
However, it’s also important to remember that a child that young still has developed neither adults’ motoric skills nor their sense of orientation. And obviously, such young children possess only a fraction of the physical power that we as adults have.

In recent years I’ve taught several children or various ages to paddle, and I’ve noticed that sooner or later children would raise from the W saddle and stand up, usually when they feel they need more power. This is understandable since when standing it’s easier for children to get power by applying their weight on the paddle through the use of their legs. If (actually when) this happens you shouldn’t discourage it – The child is not in danger of tipping the boat over, and he/she feels more empowered, which is good.

father and two kids in a W kayak Five year old kids paddling in tandem

Yoav

Choosing a Good Beach For W Surf Kayaking

If you visited Wavewalk’s website you’ve probably noticed that unlike regular surf kayakers W surf kayakers don’t wear helmets. This is because we choose our beach carefully and try to avoid playing in places where underwater rocks or other submerged objects are to be found.
Traditional surf kayakers must wear a helmet because they constantly roll they boats so they could get head injuries even without hitting a rock. Board surfers don’t wear helmets because whenever they lose balance they simply jump overboard. In this sense W kayak surfing is more like board surfing, although we go overboard much less often…

Another thing you want to avoid is to portage your W kayak over long distances. If you must do it try to choose the beach that has a parking lot that’s closest to the beach because you can drag the boat on sand and pebbles, but it’s not advisable that you do it on asphalt or concrete – In fact it would damage your W kayak in the long run.

You also want to avoid a beach that’s too crowded with bathers since paddling among them might lead to accidents.

Generally, a beach where you can see many board surfers could be a good beach for you.
Beaching kayak in difficult spot Difficult spot for beaching…


Learn Your Kayak Before You Start Fishing From It

The W is unlike any other kayak that you’ve paddled in more than one way.
While it’s plain to see that it looks differently and performs differently, it’s more difficult to see that the paddler operates this kayak in a manner that’s not even close to traditional kayaking.
When you see the paddle moving left and right it’s easy to assume that the paddler is ‘kayaking’ but he’s not- he’s W kayaking, and that’s not the same.
The W paddler’s preferred posture is Riding (mounting) the 14″ high saddle with his legs on both sides of his body: The tip of the foot below the ankle, and both are in a direct line below the hip and the torso. The upper body rests both on the saddle and on the hull’s bottom – through the legs and feet. Riding (mounting) a W kayak is very similar to mounting a pony, when the rider’s torso is supported by the saddle on the horse’s back as well as by the stirrups through the legs and feet.
This means that the W paddler shifts his weight from side to side using his feet, legs and hips in a way that doesn’t even resemble traditional kayaking. It also means that the W paddler applies paddle strokes that are unlike the traditional kayaking strokes: They are longer and more powerful, and the lower body takes an active part in each and every one of them.

This W kayak Riding (Mounted) position is also the most effective for casting fishing lines and reeling in fish, but first you need to know how to paddle your W before you can go kayak fishing with it. This is because fishing, like surfing and sailing is a secondary application in any kayak, the primary application being paddling.
Remember that your experience in traditional kayaking and kayak fishing might be irrelevant to W kayaking and W kayak fishing. In fact, such previous experience might even make it harder for you to get used to your new kayak in case you insist upon using traditional kayaking style techniques for balancing, controlling and paddling your new W kayak. If this is the case you should remind yourself that in order to learn this new paddling style you’d need to ‘unlearn’ the old one. It’s easier if you keep in mind how canoing and traditional kayaking are different from each other, and W kayaking differs from both although there are some similarities.

You can expect a learning curve but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a long one. Those things are personal and unpredictable, and becoming an accomplished W kayaker may take you anything from one hour to a few weeks. The more closely you follow instructions the easier, faster, more fun and more rewarding your learning process will be.

Needless to say that fishing, like paddling, is an acquired skill, and fishing from kayaks is a set of skills that you can’t expect to master immediately, even if you’ve been fishing from shore or from bigger boats before.


Where Did Our Kayak Get Its W From?

Some people think the name W Kayak is an abbreviation of Wavewalk kayaks. In a way it’s true, but there is also another source:
It is common for letters of the alphabet to be used to label different types of hull. For example, a V hull is one whose cross section looks like the letter V, and a U hull is one whose cross section looks like the letter U. The latter form is popular in canoe and kayak design. A new type of multihull design features M hulls.

Similarly, if you looked at a cross section of a W boat you would see a form reminding of the letter W, or more precisely a ‘Double U’ since the bottom of each of the W twin hulls is flat, I.E. more shaped like a U than a V.
When looking at the wake the W Kayak leaves behind its twin hulls the W shape can be easily perceived.
In fact, our W logo is shaped in a way that can be seen either as a wake or flat water or the crest of a wave – depending on how you choose to interpret it.

Yoav

Wavewalk kayaks logo