360 Flat Spin in Your Kayak

How to do 360 Spins in your Kayak- Jason Bates

-reposted from www.kayaking.com

Once you’ve learned the basics of how to surf and side surf in the rivers waves, you’ll probably want to learn more tricks and have some fun with those waves. The 360 spin is the first move to learn, and the skills that you develop will be used in many other moves as well. With modern, flat bottom planing hull, kayaks, you can do spins in holes or on green waves with no reversal. In this tip we’ll address the specific techniques to spinning in holes, as this is somewhat easier and can be done with ANY kayak. Before we begin trying to spin it’s probably a good idea to just hop into the hole and spend a bit of time getting comfortable and moving around in it a bit. Learning to control your position in the hole, and gain some familiarity with the hole will be very helpful in learning to spin under control.
USE THE CURRENT:
Learning to do controlled spins really means that we need to learn to control how the current affects our boat. The essence of spinning is to allow a small part of the boat, either the bow or the stern, out of the hole and into the current. We will use the force of the current to move this end of the kayak up and out of the hole just a bit, while still keeping the other end of the boat firmly in the grips of the hole. Moving from the middle of the hole towards one side or another it’s important to do so slowly, too much speed can push too much of the boat out into the current and on downstream.

VISION AND AWARENESS:
You have probably heard the old saying to “look where you want to go”. Unfortunately this saying doesn’t quite make as much sense when you are side surfing in a hole, unless we look a bit deeper into the meaning of that advice: “Looking where you want to go” is important in kayaking because it allows you to read your water, orient yourself to what is coming next, make plans, adjust course… etc. So when side surfing in a hole we must look upriver to accomplish those goals. This is due to the fact that our boat is not moving down river, and that whatever is coming at us is pouring into the hole from the upstream side.

spin1

 

(starting a spin, eyes upstream, reverse sweep on the left to help the current start to spin the boat)
By keeping our eyes focused upriver we can tell exactly what our position in the hole is, and see if other boats are coming in on top of us. We can also tell if we are in a good position to spin, and when to go for it or not. When you are in “spin mode” you’ll keep your head and shoulders facing upriver even when the boat begins to turn. Once the boat has spun almost half way around (now roughly parallel with the current), then you’ll know that it’s time to turn your head and shoulders all the way around to look back upstream. If this sounds confusing it really means that as the boat starts to spin you will be looking over one shoulder back upstream until the boat has turned far enough that in order to look upstream you will have to turn your head and look over the other shoulder.
This turning of the head and shoulders also helps lead the boat around through the rest of the turn. Our eyes can help by zoning in on a precise point, every time that the boat spins around we will keep our eyes on that exact point. If we see that the boat is beginning to deviate off of that point we can take immediate action to adjust and compensate for that.

spin2

(starting a spin, eyes upstream, reverse sweep on the left to help the current start to spin the boat)
By keeping our eyes focused upriver we can tell exactly what our position in the hole is, and see if other boats are coming in on top of us. We can also tell if we are in a good position to spin, and when to go for it or not. When you are in “spin mode” you’ll keep your head and shoulders facing upriver even when the boat begins to turn. Once the boat has spun almost half way around (now roughly parallel with the current), then you’ll know that it’s time to turn your head and shoulders all the way around to look back upstream. If this sounds confusing it really means that as the boat starts to spin you will be looking over one shoulder back upstream until the boat has turned far enough that in order to look upstream you will have to turn your head and look over the other shoulder.
This turning of the head and shoulders also helps lead the boat around through the rest of the turn. Our eyes can help by zoning in on a precise point, every time that the boat spins around we will keep our eyes on that exact point. If we see that the boat is beginning to deviate off of that point we can take immediate action to adjust and compensate for that.

spin3

(Keep it going! still in the sweet spot, using the momentum of the first spin to initiate a second spin, or was that the third spin???)
THE STROKES:
Technically speaking, you can use any paddle strokes that you like while side surfing in a hole, as long as they are on the downstream side of the kayak. Practically speaking, there are a few strokes that really seem to work best for the vast majority of the time while playing in holes. Our needs from the paddle should dictate the stroke, and when surfing in a hole, and trying to do some spins, the following criteria are of primary importance:
-Stability
Most strokes tend to help in this regard to some degree, although if we are only concerned with stability for a moment or two, the High and Low Braces will provide more stability than any other strokes.
-Accelerate/ move forward
A forward stroke, or forward sweep type of stroke will help propel the boat forward when in a side surf. Digging the paddle in deeper with a more vertical paddle shaft will provide more power, or a more horizontal shaft will provide less power to move, but more stability.
-Decelerate/ stop, or back up
Using the back side of the blade, and making a reverse stroke, or reverse sweep will help to slow down, put the brakes on, or back up. For actually backing up, you’ll get more effect when the paddle is active in the front half of the kayak, so expect a somewhat delayed reaction from reverse sweeps to take effect.
-Turn
Forward and reverse sweeps are simple, and highly effective. They are the primary means of starting a spin, as well as helping to complete a spin. Bow draws on the downstream side are a bit more complicated but can also be used to help start a turn.

Go play around, have fun, and experiment…
JB