Stepping up grades

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DaveBland
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Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:48 pm

This intrigued me enough to be worth a separate discussion...
KaitsuH wrote:What do you mean with "g4-5 moves"? I am very interested in, because I have learned in some very old days, that the only real new move needed from g3 to g4 is boofing, and everything else is much more about tactics, not about moves. From g4 to g5 just some better tactics are needed, but not really any new moves, tricks etc.
What are the different skills needed to step up between the grades? For me 4-5 [on drops] is more about the confidence to guarantee your line rather than 'most likely' your line.
On sustained g5 it's about keeping the shit in your head together. The actual paddling skills are the same.
Maybe the decision-making process has to be more defined and sound?

Thoughts? Other grade step up requirements?
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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by jsymonds » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:44 pm

For me the 'skill' is to identify the key strokes/moves (by understanding the flow/features/etc.) then actually doing them, that simple!

On grade 2/3 you can get away with doing surprisingly little in a boat and survive, this isn't the case on grade 4 and above.

Technically skills being used should be performed the same on higher grades but we all know this isn't the case if we are out of our comfort zone....

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:51 am

jsymonds wrote:For me the 'skill' is to identify the key strokes/moves (by understanding the flow/features/etc.) then actually doing them, that simple!

On grade 2/3 you can get away with doing surprisingly little in a boat and survive, this isn't the case on grade 4 and above.

Technically skills being used should be performed the same on higher grades but we all know this isn't the case if we are out of our comfort zone....
How about:
  • changing edges mid flow
  • surfing diagonals to hit a line (must make and not-must-make surfs)
  • weight shifting to punch waves or float waves
  • bomber rolls - "I don't do swimming" especially not on 4-5 if I can avoid it - we are all between swims tho'
of course it is all relative - all rapids are just a set of Grade 2 moves, it's just they are back to back over increasingly more complex routes...........


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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by jsymonds » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:12 pm

roo wrote:
jsymonds wrote:For me the 'skill' is to identify the key strokes/moves (by understanding the flow/features/etc.) then actually doing them, that simple!

On grade 2/3 you can get away with doing surprisingly little in a boat and survive, this isn't the case on grade 4 and above.

Technically skills being used should be performed the same on higher grades but we all know this isn't the case if we are out of our comfort zone....
How about:
  • changing edges mid flow
  • surfing diagonals to hit a line (must make and not-must-make surfs)
  • weight shifting to punch waves or float waves
  • bomber rolls - "I don't do swimming" especially not on 4-5 if I can avoid it - we are all between swims tho'
of course it is all relative - all rapids are just a set of Grade 2 moves, it's just they are back to back over increasingly more complex routes...........

I'd like to think I do these things on grade 2/3 (I have certainly been coached to do so!)

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:17 pm

jsymonds wrote:
I'd like to think I do these things on grade 2/3 (I have certainly been coached to do so!)
In that case then it is just experience, head games and practice.......lots of practice.

It sounds like it's just a matter of scaling up your skills then?

or, I suppose I could ask:

What's stopping you stepping up a grade?

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Re: [What's stopping you] Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:44 pm

roo wrote:What's stopping you stepping up a grade?
Ah-ha! That's far more succinctly put than my OP and exactly what I was trying to say.
There's the 'practice hard moves on easier water until you are ready' school of thought, but I'm not convinced that's all it is.

[and for the record, this is not me looking for advice - more of a discussion starter as there's no paddling here for me for 5 months and I'm bored]
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Re: [What's stopping you] Stepping up grades

Post by jsymonds » Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:38 pm

DaveBland wrote:
roo wrote:What's stopping you stepping up a grade?
Ah-ha! That's far more succinctly put than my OP and exactly what I was trying to say.
There's the 'practice hard moves on easier water until you are ready' school of thought, but I'm not convinced that's all it is.

[and for the record, this is not me looking for advice - more of a discussion starter as there's no paddling here for me for 5 months and I'm bored]
How about practising hard moves on hard water with additional precautions (more bags/chase boaters/etc.) taken to manage the risks?

I know many paddlers that will only paddle the 'harder' rapids on a river once and be happy to just get down them rather than using them repeatedly for practice. This is the case even with good paddlers because they would rather not risk re-running hard sections and screwing them up! Surely this is the key to becoming more comfortable and confident on harder grades???

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Re: [What's stopping you] Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:06 am

jsymonds wrote:I know many paddlers that will only paddle the 'harder' rapids on a river once and be happy to just get down them rather than using them repeatedly for practice. This is the case even with good paddlers because they would rather not risk re-running hard sections and screwing them up! Surely this is the key to becoming more comfortable and confident on harder grades???
That's a really interesting point that I confess I am super guilty of. I rarely run anything more than once if I'm pushing it. I really don't like to increase the odds. I've always been like that. Can't justify it at all.
I will happly lap the crap out of anything I feel I'm not pushing it on though. But this is for the fun factor not to learn from it.

Looking back I think most of the steps up in difficulty have come from inadvertently finding myself a bit out of my zone due to levels or misjudging the river etc. Plus the odd gung ho moment when it felt right.
I think the step from 4 to 5 though and 5 to hard 5 is more deliberate and a mental progression rather than skills based.

Where's Westgarth when you need him to chip in?
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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by purelandexpeditions.com » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:22 am

The way I see it. A move like a ferry glide on class two is as difficult as a ferry on class 5 if you do not have the knowledge. The skill sets are the same. I remember doing my first ferry glides on class 2, flipping, rolling, swimming - practice and repetition them I no longer flipped, rolled, swam. One the skill set was in place I remember moving to class 3 then class 4 then class 5. With the skill set in place it was a mental game.

Sure I could go in more detail, but I know a thousand forum junkies will add comments and personal experiences.
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Re: [What's stopping you] Stepping up grades

Post by Franky » Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:26 pm

DaveBland wrote:
jsymonds wrote:I know many paddlers that will only paddle the 'harder' rapids on a river once and be happy to just get down them rather than using them repeatedly for practice. This is the case even with good paddlers because they would rather not risk re-running hard sections and screwing them up! Surely this is the key to becoming more comfortable and confident on harder grades???
That's a really interesting point that I confess I am super guilty of. I rarely run anything more than once if I'm pushing it. I really don't like to increase the odds. I've always been like that. Can't justify it at all.
I will happly lap the crap out of anything I feel I'm not pushing it on though. But this is for the fun factor not to learn from it.
I'm still very much a grade 3 paddler, most of whose practice is at the Lee Valley Legacy. There, you don't have much choice but to try to master what you know already. And I'm still not happy that I've mastered it, even though I can now run it "simply" with some confidence, and make any given eddy... But I can still get caught out trying to cross the flow using stoppers or waves. That's what I concentrate on now and unfortunately it's been responsible for a couple of recent swims, which I thought I'd finally got past :(

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:21 pm

purelandexpeditions.com wrote:The way I see it. A move like a ferry glide on class two is as difficult as a ferry on class 5 if you do not have the knowledge. The skill sets are the same. I remember doing my first ferry glides on class 2, flipping, rolling, swimming - practice and repetition them I no longer flipped, rolled, swam. One the skill set was in place I remember moving to class 3 then class 4 then class 5. With the skill set in place it was a mental game.

Sure I could go in more detail, but I know a thousand forum junkies will add comments and personal experiences.
I think I pretty much align with this.

One thought I had though was about the progression from total novice to white water paddler:
  • Learn Skill > Get strength > learn new skill (finesse old basics) > get strength > learn new skill > get strength etc, etc.
The problem I know I will have now is that I have the skill, but I don't have the strength or familiarity. A few years ago I almost messed up on a "must make" cross on the Ogwen because my skill set was stronger than my strength.

I still remember to this day my first continuous fast real grade III - eyes on stalks when I took a breather in the eddy - the speed of read-and-run was like nothing I had done before, but I never experienced that feeling again - I guess it is like flying the Typhoon in the video I linked to in my earlier post.

Or my first ever run on the Upper Dart - until then I don't think I'd ever paddled a river where I could "See" the gradient.....

It is a risk sport and part of the sport is learning how to take calculated risks - just know how to make it stop!

http://www.theinertia.com/mountain/if-i ... e-forward/

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Simon Westgarth » Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:09 pm

Experience above all is needed, yet experiencing what works well and trying and learning from things that do not work well will ensure progression is continuous. The very nature of the experiences is intrinsic to the scope and ultimately the value of the experience as a learning tool. Running the same river the same way ten times or more may embed precise repartition, and in itself can aid learning a race line, however if the feedback and resulting tasks set are not challenging and aspirational whilst still being achievable then the value of these experiences may hold less worth. Either way, through experience the paddler develops a belief in themselves to know they will go the way they see ahead of them, there is little or no doubt as they know that they are going where they know is to be where they wish to go, as they believe it so. No matter how much skill sets are run through and repeated, until they are tested, challenged and evaluated thoroughly, the experience that underpins the belief in the paddlers ability, is likely to harbour doubt and uncertainty.

With all the epistemology and philosophical blah blah aside, consider the following:
  • Challenge yourself without increasing the exposure to risk. In doing so you'll need to find venues that allow such learning to be created and developed.
    Tactics are above all needed even before technique is mastered. After all with good tactics, the technique is easy to deliver and makes it all look nice.
    If what you are doing is not working. STOP. Try something else, anything else. White water kayaking is full of solutions, you may not have them, but can work them out, get help or/and learn something new.
    You can never have a great forward stroke, its forever work in progress, and even for the seemingly expert paddler, the shape, form and feel of their forward stroke is ever evolving and it the most important connection to the shifting white water environment they move through.
Good luck and more pressure on your paddle blade.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Badknee » Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:50 pm

There are far better paddlers than me on here but I can comment on my experiences. I think there are a number of elements which help you to move up the grades. There is the skills part, which as pointed out above, is continually developing. The experience part where you learn to apply the skills to the point where you don't have to think about when use them and then the decision making part. I think for me this has been the hardest part because as the challenge is greater you need to make decision more quickly. The situation quickly tells you when a decision was a bad one at which point you need to think again and adjust. With more experience this becomes more efficient and instinctive and the need to roll or swim reduces.
All the usual scratches...

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:40 am

Badknee wrote:There are far better paddlers than me on here but I can comment on my experiences. I think there are a number of elements which help you to move up the grades. There is the skills part, which as pointed out above, is continually developing. The experience part where you learn to apply the skills to the point where you don't have to think about when use them and then the decision making part. I think for me this has been the hardest part because as the challenge is greater you need to make decision more quickly. The situation quickly tells you when a decision was a bad one at which point you need to think again and adjust. With more experience this becomes more efficient and instinctive and the need to roll or swim reduces.
Badknee - I think comment on your/our experience is far more valuable than assuming that the more advanced paddlers know it all! I'm gaining more about how to coach from watching my daughter learn to paddle (but not coaching her, she is coaching me).

My point about my first real grade III fast run - is that the more experience you get the easier it is to forget the "experience" and how that feels for a newbie.

Simon, love the summary. (I'm guilty of the philoblahsophy).

What I draw from both comments is:
  • Have "Vision"
  • Know where you want to end up - and visualise how you will get there
  • Practice/learn and focus on the bits that you can't see clearly in that "Vision"

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by garya » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:56 pm

I would like to add in my own experience the having the support of others who look out for you and who will be non judgmental but encouraging is really important.

We have all see the carnage videos and been there and seen people drinking from boots and sometimes that has its place if that is what you are looking, but it can be really demoralising if you are between grades. Sometimes you may just be pushing yourself in new ways on a familiar run to challenge yourself.

I have experienced both ends of the spectrum. In one case it actually put me off pushing myself or experimenting working and playing in bigger stoppers because if I failed on move or came out of my boat and swam it was humiliating. I just wanted to get better at being there paddling like the others.

At the other end of the spectrum I have been tutored and coached by some truly awesome well know paddlers, They helped me believe in myself and unlocked a whole new level of rivers to me. I have never forgotten what a transformation and experience it was for me and how they achieved that. It is something I have not forgotten it is how I try to help others progress when I am helping them to progress ...

thank you so much, you know who you are ;-)

Once you become a coach or a river guide at club level it can be hard to push up as you feel there is a certain expectation to always be on the ball and always nail it even when peer paddling for your own development as you are a "coach" ... not sure if anyone else has experienced this ?

it adds an extra pressure to the whole learning experience and makes you more conservative in the about putting yourself in a position were there is a narrower probability where there is any chance of not having a more than successful outcome.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:39 pm

garya wrote:...put me off pushing myself or experimenting working and playing in bigger stoppers because if I failed on move or came out of my boat and swam it was humiliating
I feel really sad when anyone is made to feel bad because of a swim. Every paddler has swam. There's the old bravado expression of "if you don't swim, you ain't trying' hard enough" which I don't like, but there is a point in there.
Swimming is inevitable even when not stretching yourself pushing to learn, let alone when you are.

I'm in a bit of a different place as I'm certainly not pushing up the grades, but dropping down them, but my only motivation to not swim is my own safety. I really could not care less about what any other paddler thinks of me if I do. Luckily I have a really supportive bunch of mates who's only reaction would be concern in I was ok.

Booty beers aren't for everyone. I'm kinda 50/50 on doing it. If I have swam and got out ok I'm generally so relieved, I'd do pretty much anything and not care. But booties should be a celebration, not a humiliation. And optional.
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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:40 pm

DaveBland wrote:but my only motivation to not swim is my own safety.
That's the only motivation I need - my last swim was after the deck popped and fortunately for me the boat subbed me out of the hole with me still in it. Then when I realised I was about to run the next rapid in a swamped boat, I shoved it in front and went for some "active swimming" (Citation: Nealy, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kayak-Manual-Te ... 562&sr=1-3)

The log book we kept for our trip to Norway (1994 - Dagger AQII, Perception Dancer, Dagger Freefall, Prijon Gambler) noted the number of river rolls first and foremost, and a swim was viewed catastrophic. Back then, at least for my crowd, it was all about keeping your head dry and in the place where it received maximum air.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:44 pm

roo wrote:...deck popped and fortunately for me the boat subbed me out of the hole with me still in it.
Totally valid technique in my book and proven to work really well.
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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by SPL » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:15 pm

For me it's about doing the exact same strokes under greater pressure due to greater consequences, so it's mostly in the mind.
I remember a committing section where the line was 8ft wide so I asked myself can I put my boat in that 8ft channel. The very high levels, boils, fast flowing water and cushion waves off the gorge wall were irrelevant because I would be in the channel.
For me it's simply about confidence gained from experience.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Jim » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:49 pm

DaveBland wrote:Thoughts? Other grade step up requirements?
For me, a major turning point was when I got a piece of cord and tied my glasses onto my head instead of leaving them in the minibus.

Grade 5 was, and I suppose still is a bit of a boundary for me - that's the level where I feel I need to be able to stay in control to be successful, grade 4 I can get away with if I'm a bit off my game, grade 5 I can't.
But what was/is the skill that enabled me to start running 5's (and I make no qualms about it - I only run 5 drops, not continuous).
I think learning to really read the water was the most important factor, read the water, and relate it to what I can or can't do in the boat.

We were reminiscing about the Orchy on FB the other day - Easan Dubh is one of the classic 5's (whatever youngsters might say). I have seen people get horribly mauled by it, and I have seen people mess up and break boats, and I have seen people make it look dead easy. The difference is in how each of them read the water and used that knowledge to position their boat on the lead in, and/or at the crux of the rapid.
Most of the people who get mauled have misread it so badly that their fate is sealed soon after leaving the eddy - they approach from the wrong side of the river. Some of them have planned to just PLF, hit the hole hard and hope to pull through the towback caused by a large submerged boulder blocking the exit - I think I've only seen this work once, he is a very good paddler! Others have read the crux OK but forgotten to read the lead in and suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of a shallow patch unable to get onto the line they planned into the crux. Again, I have once seen someone start down this route, find the end of the shallow patch, break out midstream at the end of it (maybe an S cross) and ferry onto his line briefly pointing his bow upstream almost on the lip to get there. (Is it coincidence both paddlers are from the lakes?). Those that remembered to read the lead in and got to the right side of the river as soon as they left the eddy (before it gets too shallow in the middle) always make it to the crux OK, but even then there are 3 possible outcomes.
The crux is to hit the diagonal wave at the upstream end of the slab with good speed and enough angle to the left to counter it pushing you right so you climb over it onto the slab proper,.
If you don't have enough speed or angle, the diagonal bats you off the right side of the slab - there is a block of rock in there, at lower levels you can see it, at higher levels you can see the spray, I've never known a boat pin on it, I've heard plenty smack it and seen a couple split by it. This side flushes, you might get barelled rolled by the water falling on your right side all the way along, but it kicks out strongly.
If you have too much speed or angle you will get over the wave and your momentum will carry you over the hump and drop off you off the left side of the slab into the hole, where you will be no better off than if you had tried to plug it from the other side ofthe river.
Get the speed and angle in the right range and you will come over the wave, onto the hump, steer towards the centre of the slab and guide yourself off the end of it, clearing the hole, keeping out of the transverse hole to the right and paddle easily away. - there are probably 6-8 important strokes to make the easy line.

First time I ran it was at a huge level, there was no hole just a wave train, you could hit it anywhere :-)

In lower water I have always got up onto the slab, on one occasion I didn't steer very well on the top and ended up coming off it a bit left, but clear of the hole and just had a bit of a frantic paddle off the tow back, otherwise I have always nailed the line, BUT only because I saved it up until I was able to read AND run the line. I still portage it any time my paddling hasn't felt perfect up to that point in the trip, the ability to precisely paddle the easy line is key.

I know I could do it in a canoe, but I would have to have been on fire up to that point!

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by SimonMW » Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:05 pm

We were reminiscing about the Orchy on FB the other day - Easan Dubh is one of the classic 5's (whatever youngsters might say). I have seen people get horribly mauled by it, and I have seen people mess up and break boats, and I have seen people make it look dead easy. The difference is in how each of them read the water and used that knowledge to position their boat on the lead in, and/or at the crux of the rapid.
I've never liked the look of that one. Never been tempted to run it because I simply cannot trust my ability to judge my position on it from boat level. I've already had one horrendous swim and recirc from such a misjudgement, and that was on a supposed G3! So I've never been tempted to give such a line a go off a G5, and as far as I am concerned ED is most definitely a 5. At lower levels it looks horrendous. I had a go at Eas a Chathaidh (sp?) at a good medium level, but I saw it at a lower level fairly recently when I portaged and I'm glad that I didn't attempt it again! Not sure why the youngsters like to downgrade stuff. As gear and boats become better, the consequences of swimming on any given rapid don't become less potentially dangerous.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Jim » Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:45 pm

SimonMW wrote:
We were reminiscing about the Orchy on FB the other day - Easan Dubh is one of the classic 5's (whatever youngsters might say). I have seen people get horribly mauled by it, and I have seen people mess up and break boats, and I have seen people make it look dead easy. The difference is in how each of them read the water and used that knowledge to position their boat on the lead in, and/or at the crux of the rapid.
I've never liked the look of that one. Never been tempted to run it because I simply cannot trust my ability to judge my position on it from boat level.
The diagonal is much harder to recognise from the boat, there are a couple of smaller inconsequential ones on the lead in, and it is not very distinctive when you do get to it - so if you have any doubt in your ability to read your way to it from boat level, definitely make the portage!

Familiarity can make things seem easier - people familiar with hard drops seem to push the grades down not entirely considering that the grade is of most importance to someone running a river for the first time who by association will not be familiar with the rapid. This is perhaps another problem with stepping up grades, if you are very familiar with certain rivers at a grade, they have possibly become easier to you than they really are, so the gap to the next grade may seem bigger when you do it. The truth is that all rivers and rapids are so different that it totally depends what river/drop you pick at each grade as to how big the gap is, not forgetting the effect of river level!

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:28 am

Jim wrote:
SimonMW wrote:
We were reminiscing about the Orchy on FB the other day - Easan Dubh is one of the classic 5's (whatever youngsters might say). I have seen people get horribly mauled by it, and I have seen people mess up and break boats, and I have seen people make it look dead easy. The difference is in how each of them read the water and used that knowledge to position their boat on the lead in, and/or at the crux of the rapid.
I've never liked the look of that one. Never been tempted to run it because I simply cannot trust my ability to judge my position on it from boat level.
The diagonal is much harder to recognise from the boat, there are a couple of smaller inconsequential ones on the lead in, and it is not very distinctive when you do get to it - so if you have any doubt in your ability to read your way to it from boat level, definitely make the portage!

Familiarity can make things seem easier - people familiar with hard drops seem to push the grades down not entirely considering that the grade is of most importance to someone running a river for the first time who by association will not be familiar with the rapid. This is perhaps another problem with stepping up grades, if you are very familiar with certain rivers at a grade, they have possibly become easier to you than they really are, so the gap to the next grade may seem bigger when you do it. The truth is that all rivers and rapids are so different that it totally depends what river/drop you pick at each grade as to how big the gap is, not forgetting the effect of river level!
Without wanting to sound like an arrogant tool (pre-qualifier - flame-proof pants engaged) - I don't remember so many options on ED.
  • Maybe it was low?
  • Maybe it was too long ago?
I think it was low. There was an ugly scrape line hard right off the ledge and a terrible grabby slot center-left.

Another time, I think I ran with you JIM and Neil F, Alex C(?) but don't remember the level on that day - I do remember a cracking run down the North Esk though.
Last edited by roo on Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:33 am

Back on topic though.......

How to step up your grades
  • 1) Read Nealy
  • 2) Run rivers.....lots and as many different ones as you can
  • 3) Run ridiculous lines on easy rapids.......lots
  • 4) Surf - best big water experience you can get in the UK
  • 5) Push the envelope, but maybe it's better to be licking the stamps?
  • 6) Understand how to calculate your risk and unintended consequences assuming you have Vision
<arrogancy>Roo, Kayak Consultant, I'm here all week :-) </arrogancy>

Most of all - Have Fun! - Proudly sponsored by HF.

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DaveBland
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Re: [What's stopping you] Stepping up grades

Post by DaveBland » Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:43 pm

DaveBland wrote:
jsymonds wrote:I know many paddlers that will only paddle the 'harder' rapids on a river once and be happy to just get down them rather than using them repeatedly for practice. This is the case even with good paddlers because they would rather not risk re-running hard sections and screwing them up! Surely this is the key to becoming more comfortable and confident on harder grades???
That's a really interesting point that I confess I am super guilty of.

An example of leaning by repeating... No doubt part of why Liam is so bloody good.
https://www.facebook.com/82553596081380 ... 698114464/ [Should work for non FBers too]
dave

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morsey
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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by morsey » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:33 pm

It's about keeping your shizzle together, but it's also about being up to speed with the water.

Take a good play boater on a feature, they sit there effortlessly and move to the top of the pile and start to accelerate down the wave. The wave pulses, they bail the move and reset to the top of the feature. Then throw the move when the wave matches what they want to do. Comparison that with a newbie to rodeo and they throw the move no matter what the feature does, stick it/fade/fluke/flush are at the hands of the wave! And the same correlates to sending rapids, and this is an area that experienced paddlers understand comes and goes! This is the is "I'm on my game" Versus "I'm not feeling it"! What are they not feeling? That connection, that timing, that ability to spot the entry, paddle through, hit the lip, full stroke off, mid rapid/air transition, and exit move. You get the "On my game" face, by hitting lines 100% confident and not being fazed by all the combination factors. How you get to that point depends on you. Thrown in at the deep-end works for some, gently gently works for others. Session-ing rapids is excellent for building cognitive movement. The throw a boof a hundred times it becomes fluid. You spot the stomp twenty times you really learn to focus through all the distractions of freefall and precisely hit your landing. You add a bunch of ear dips to safe clean deep flares and you really feel for who you can get your boat moving.

There are lots of ways to get you fired up to raise your game, lots of techniques for achieving that step with a higher success rate, and there are lots of theories on which path is the most correct. There are lots of pathways and lots of ideals, listen, read, watch and take as much info as you can and work path that suits you, everyone is different. But ultimately, as with all these things; whether it's pushing grades, getting out on a cold day, placing your paddle on a new river, motivation comes from within. But you can take a lot of encouragement by seeing others achievements and you can definitely bounce off other 'motivated' paddlers.

Also there is nothing wrong at tall with jumping on the kayaking bandwagon and pick up where others have started. So watching videos on youtube and getting a spangly new creek boat and hitting flares straight out of the gun, awesome. You don't have to go through all the twenty/thirty/forty years of progression to get there, the current thinking, skill application and boats and gear is a fast track if you want to take it. Experience will come for sure. And experience counts for lots, but you can accrue that quickly enough. I've watched paddler in the past two years overtake almost every single paddler in the UK, and that came with an exponential learning curve, straight to the top end of world boating. Everyone can learn for other paddlers, when you see them unlock a section of rapids you've paddled a gazillion times, you think, hey I need to re-read all rivers. And, then you realise that your "Game face" needs an upgrade. Time for personal motivation to kick in, to apply yourself to raising your game, it's a constant cycle. keep pushing, keep learning keep advancing.

If that doesn't make sense, for sure there will be someone else who can explain it in a way they and you can relate to, those people are useful to your paddling progression. (Lots of my friends are pro coaches and I've seen their work, they are experts at motivation and raising your skills, grades etc, keep coaching as an option for helping you progress, even if you think you don't need it, chances are they will identify the aspects that are key for you to advance!).


p.s. UK kayaking season (sic) is pretty awesome right now, go paddling. :-)

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Mark Dixon » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:34 am

Yesterday we headed for the Erme expecting a lower run, unbeknown to us the amount of rain that had fallen we got there and it was pretty high, after inspecting the Gorge and a few of us ruling that out we kitted up and started walking up for the easier rapids further upstream, seeing that the river was rising I dumped my boat half way and opted out, shortly after 3 others also thought it a good idea to opt out. Level was just shy of 1.1 on guage.
We had 1 paddler who was running it whatever and 2 who were questioning with hollow faces, I suggested running the 1st 2 rapids below the slot drop (from pool) to see how they cope with speed.
The remaining 4 set up safety along route and I assisted the unsure guys with my paddle to aim for on the 2nd big boof. Tho cautious the 2 guys followed down rapid by rapid, walking the weir and then finally paddling the last couple rapids prior to the Gorge, unfortunately 1 swam at his get out going over in a hole.
The other paddler decided he would have a crack at the Gorge if we set up safety so we did that upto the 1st larger eddy and they paddled under the viaduct which went well. We all moved further down and covered all angles, unfortunately the following padler got stuck in a hole just up above the 1st Dogleg and swam, we rescued him textbook which was pleasing. His gear was a different story but all retrieved nearer to the A38 bridge.
When I look at the 3 paddlers I can see how stepping up grades is a learning process and you need balls of steel, both the lads being lead will one day be great paddlers, but at present they are learning (all be it in huge water) taking a knock, swimming and chasing your boat for a mile is part of it.
The lad leading styled every rapid and portaged nothing, lead hisgroup superbly and rescued all the gear when needed, a few years ago he had a couple similar swims whilst learning, the 1st time his boat went 10 miles and ended up in a farmers field the 2nd time it got pinned up at Newbridge, both times level on the Dart was Huge.
From what I've seen about stepping up grades you need balls of steel, youth, determination, terrific skills and a slight madness about you. It all takes time.

Mark

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Simon Westgarth » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:03 pm

Mark Dixon wrote:From what I've seen about stepping up grades you need balls of steel, youth, determination, terrific skills and a slight madness about you. It all takes time.
Determination & focus gained from experience, the right kind of experiences, application of the lessons learnt and opportunity, lots of opportunity of course. Lots of focused hours in the boat, as time is only relative to how often you get to paddle.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by Jim » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:39 pm

roo wrote:Without wanting to sound like an arrogant tool (pre-qualifier - flame-proof pants engaged) - I don't remember so many options on ED.
  • Maybe it was low?
  • Maybe it was too long ago?
I think it was low. There was an ugly scrape line hard right off the ledge and a terrible grabby slot center-left.

Another time, I think I ran with you JIM and Neil F, Alex C(?) but don't remember the level on that day - I do remember a cracking run down the North Esk though.
You must be getting old and losing your memory Roo - you can tell by the amount of grey in my beard these days. :)

In low and medium water there really is only 1 option, but several other places you can end up by mistake. Until someone very good turns up and proves that one of the mistakes can be an option if you have the skills.

The 'scrape' line hard right, maybe you are thinking of a fairly decent level where you can sometimes run along the edge to the right of the slot and drop off well downstream of the main hole into a feature which flushes - I seem to recall Matt S doing that one time on a uni trip.

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Re: Stepping up grades

Post by roo » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:16 pm

Jim wrote:The 'scrape' line hard right, maybe you are thinking of a fairly decent level where you can sometimes run along the edge to the right of the slot and drop off well downstream of the main hole into a feature which flushes - I seem to recall Matt S doing that one time on a uni trip.
It was Mr Lamb actually, not sure what year.

There's been some great stuff on this thread (for us navel gazing types).

Is there any takeaway that I can use as an early Xmas pressie for my budding newbie?

All I really see is - practice, push it, make mistakes (safely), and practice more.

Next question: What if you can't play the head game that we are promoting here? Is it an absolute requirement to have a strong mind or can you still step up a grade through directed practice and limited exposure?

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