Common Mistakes in Whitewater Canoeing

If you own a canoe and enjoy paddling around in the placid lakes and marinas near your home, you may have dreamed to one day up your game a little and try whitewater canoeing. Like any sport, after you have been participating in it for a length of time you pick up bad habits, on a calm lake just pottering about this may not matter so much, but in the world of whitewater canoeing it can be disastrous.

So here is a list of common mistakes that all paddlers are susceptible to, and that you must eradicate if you are to start whitewater canoeing.

  • It is common for canoeists to pull their paddle grip inside of the gunwale of the canoe, when this happens it puts an angle on the blade when ruddering. To avoid this, extend the upper hand so the grip becomes outside of the canoe.
  • It is essential to direct the canoe’s hull into the direction that you want to turn, some paddlers forget this.
  • By drawing the stern downstream, it is the best way to change direction. Some paddlers try to sweep the bow against the current which never works.
  • Never change your paddle sides to steer the canoe.
  • When power stroking you must hold the paddle vertically to achieve the maximum power.
  • When executing a power stroke you must finish with a rudder.  
  • It is a common mistake when leaving eddies to go upstream to exit with too much angle.
  • A way of killing your forward momentum is not starting with a stern pry with the blade touching the stern of the canoe, and then prying the paddle blade too far out.
  • Another really common mistake is not to submerge the blade completely under the surface of the water when paddling.
  • When you reach eddy lines you must have as much momentum as possible.
  • Always make sure your paddle is of the correct length.

Using a Single-Blade

It is true that single-blade canoeing is harder to master than double-blading, but once you have achieved the art it can give you far more control over the boat. The amount of time you have to spend to master single-blade canoeing has one major advantage. It means that you are also learning other valuable strokes and techniques that will stay with you forever.

It also means that you will become a more complete canoeist, and that you have a set of skills that you can use to take you on any water. The eleven common mistakes listed above have to firstly be eradicated, otherwise you will never succeed in your dream to go whitewater canoeing.

Whitewater canoeing is the most exhilarating form of the sport, it is also the most dangerous and therefore needs the most preparation. Also do not forget that additional safety equipment will be needed to undertake whitewater canoeing to ensure your safety. And it is a good idea to never attempt this form of canoeing by yourself, even though you might feel you are skillful enough.