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So you think you've chosen the easy option

The first thing you need to know about kayaking is that it’s not the easy option.

The second is that if you’re dreaming of taking home that individual kayak trophy, you want to be a girl. James Yaffa is doing the kayak challenge. He doesn’t take competing lightly. (Hint: ESPN DIGITAL is running training sessions. Yaff will be attending. You can too.)

The third is that no matter how awry things go for you on the day, no kayak effort will ever be worse than that of AdNews’ David Blight who overturned his kayak three times before he'd travelled 20 metres. Some records really are set in stone.

Apart from a solid core (do your sit ups), there are only a few form essentials.

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KAYAKING TIPS:

  1.          Sit straight, relax your shoulders and don’t lean against the backrest.
  1.          Keep your legs together, your knees slightly bent and dig your feet in. Press your knees against the kayak for extra balance if needed. 
  1.          Your torso and legs will do most most of the work. Your shoulders and arms are only there to transmit power. When you place the blade in the water, imagine you are pulling yourself up to and past the paddle.
  1.          Keep your lower arm almost straight. Bend your upper arm slightly so that your upper wrist comes to about eye level. You do have to rotate your torso.
  1.          End the stroke when your lower hand is about level with your stomach. It will feel too early, but continuing will slow you down.
  1.          You want to create a rhythmic flow, paddling left and right. Paddling forward is not the same as paddling in a straight line, but everyone has one dominate arm – you have to adjust.
  1.          Don’t rock the boat.

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Just in case you're imagining that you're a kayaking superstar because you weren't the unwitting entertainment last year, these kayakers are superstars

  • On April 19 2014, sixty-seven year old Aleksander Doba from Poland became the first person to paddle across the Atlantic Ocean at its widest point. It took him 197 days to negotiate the 8,690 kilometres between Portugal and Florida. In the Bermuda Triangle, Doba encountered winds and waves so violent they snapped his rudder. He diverted 483 kilometres (a task that took 10 days of paddling without a rudder) to Bermuda for the repair. And in 2010, at the age of sixty-three, Doba was also the first person to kayak across the Atlantic at its narrowest point, from Senegal to Brazil, in 99 days.
  • In April 2009, twenty-two year old Tyler Bradt, accomplished a 58 metre freefall over Palouse Falls in Washington state in the US to set the world record for the highest waterfall kayaked. 58 metres is 18 storeys. Water around you is rushing at 57 cubic metres per second. Bradt’s drop took 3.7 seconds. He was then underwater for six seconds.
  • In  May 23, 2012, MexicanRafael ‘Rafa’ Ortiz set his sights on Bradt’s world record as the only person to have kayaked the Palouse Falls. He chose the slightly calmer right-hand side of the river for his fall. But the impact of hitting the churning white-water at the bottom was so intense that he was catapulted out of the kayak, so his leap was not officially recognised.