Sunday, June 10, 2007

Musings on the Charlotte Whitewater Park

I had two days off last week and decided to check out the whitewater park in Charlotte that I’d been hearing so much about. The Charlotte Instruction Manager and my good friend, Sarah Harper, was nice enough to paddle with me, show me the cool moves, and yell words of encouragement such as “Stop sucking!”. Here’s a few thoughts and mediocre advice I formulated on the drive home:

1. It’s not really a river, it’s a quasi river – a “quiver” if you will. The best part about the quiver is that you get the great rapids without worrying about such dangers as foot-entrapments, strainers, or fishermen casting over your bow. The quiver is also 3 feet deep everywhere which is nice for taking a leisurely walk through class 3 whitewater. Lastly, the water temperature of the quiver is about 75 degrees, which is way better than the Nantahala where the water temperature hovers somewhere around “arctic”.

2. Rivers have shuttles, quivers have conveyor belts, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to Sarah for showing me the spin move off the rollers. I could do that all day. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, stick your paddle in the metal hand rail when you reach the rollers and do a reverse sweep)

3.Here’s my mediocre advice worth about a nickel for anyone struggling with the eddies there. Forget the “always lean downstream mantra”. Sometimes the eddy water there is going upstream, sometimes its downstream, and sometimes its sidestream, if there is such a thing. Keep your boat flat when you’re in the eddy, and lean forward into that good posture (especially if you’re in a playboat). Peel out at the top of the eddy (most of the time the eddy water is sending you in that direction anyways). When you reach the exit point fight the urge to use a forward sweep on the upstream side to turn yourself downstream. Instead, lean in the direction of your turn and take good forward strokes on the downstream side. Many people flip getting out of eddies because as they place a sweep stroke on the upstream side they also subconsciously drop that upstream edge to get the blade in the water. The good news is that 95% of the time you don’t need a stroke on the upstream side during a peelout. (By the way, the same thing applies to getting into the eddies. You don’t need a sweep stroke on the downstream side to turn yourself into the eddy. The water will turn you – you just need forward strokes on the inside of the turn to drive deep into the eddy, which is also the side you’re edging towards. Your stability and power will increase exponentially if you commit to only paddling on the inside of the turn, and not both sides)

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