Thursday, February 22, 2007

Paddle like a Hero

Wondering what to paddle when it’s cold out but you still want to get on the water without freezing your pogies off? Instructor Chris Wing and I have being getting on the water, getting beefed up for the spring season and working on our technique with the new Hero Workout. It’s been perfect for those cold days when getting really wet and/or flipping over just didn’t sound appealing.

The Hero workout is a combination attainment, river run and gate workout all wrapped into one paddling session. We integrate all three because of their availability but you could do the same without the gates if there aren’t any in your area. We came across the idea of the Hero workout when we were looking to paddle upriver from the NOC Outfitter’s Store to the Nantahala Falls.

When Chris commented on the workout he said “This workout helps my precision in creek boating and river running and gives me the confidence I’ll be ready for the high water runs come spring.” Before the Hero workout, he felt like his boating specific strength and skills were slipping away as the winter progressed.

The Hero and SuperHero were the only “new school” boats we found with enough hull speed to make the attainment all the way to the Falls so we dubbed our noontime paddle appropriately the Hero workout. The boats work really well for the gates and surfing across waves (remember we weren’t doing any spins) because of their speed and agility.

The Attainment

Chris is a new school kinda guy and found that figuring out the precision needed for a good attainment has helped his overall paddling skills. Old schoolers remember having “speed and angle” drilled into our heads and in this workout, it is very important. Using the put-in beside the store, we start to work our way upstream.

The keys to a successful attainment, up a drop, is to make sure you start close to the eddy line and build some speed before you cross the eddyline. This will allow your momentum to carry you upstream past the rock.

Use the water to our advantage by paddling up eddies and plotting

our strategy to work our way up the next “drop” on the river. Sometimes it’s important to use waves that come off the corner of a rock to move across to another eddy across the river.


On the way downriver, practice your eddy turns and other maneuvers. You’ll want to focus on control and grace in your paddling style. This is an opportunity for more advanced paddlers to work on their boof moves.

In the Gates

Today we decided rather than our usual slalom style workout, we could work on transferring those skills into wave surfing and included an attainment into the mix. You can practice this move the next time you’re at NOC. Starting at the rock on river right by the USFS takeout, ferry across the big wave.

Turn downstream and get set up to go through the gate and establish yourself on the wave. Use the wave to shoot you across into the bottom of the same eddy you started in. The last part of the surf if a bit of an attainment so be ready to hit a couple of hard strokes.


Since it was warmer than usual today, we entertained ourselves with front and back ferries and surfing. It’s always a good day when you can spend it on the water with your friends! Hope to see you out there!

This can be done on a variety of different types of class I-II rivers and is the perfect winter workout to stay fit and ready for the paddling season.

Happy Paddling!