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Reposted from the Dagger blog, written by Anna Levesque
Eddy turns and peel outs are essential skills for whitewater kayaking. Catching eddies allows us more control because we can stop, scout, take a break and regroup. Peeling out of eddies allows us to re-enter the current in control and gives us time to set up for our next move. The key components to eddy turns and peel outs are:
As a kayak instructor I drill people on these skills on the water all the time. Practicing them helps to create better reading water skills, balance, effortlessness and control. Plus, good eddy turns and peel outs are a lot of fun! Almost anyone can paddle straight down a class II and III river, but they're missing out on a lot of fun and are not learning to paddle to their potential. Beginners often resist eddy and ferry practice because it can feel unstable and challenging, but if they stick with it, the benefits are awesome.
Interestingly enough I've realized that the components of eddy turns and peels are just as relevant off the water as they are on the water. Take the peel out for example... We've all experienced times in our lives when we've felt stuck. Perhaps we feel uninspired or maybe we've been repeating habits and patterns that make us unhappy. In these times remembering the elements of a good peel out can help us get
Eddy turns can be important to. Maybe you need to catch an eddy to take a break, rejuvenate and find your balance. Stopping to take stock of what's going on in your life is important.
As I mentioned, I drill my students on the water on this stuff and it take some practice to refine peel outs and eddy turns so that they feel effortless. If I had given up on kayaking after my first trip down the river because I couldn't eddy turn or peel out or stay upright I wouldn't be where I am or who I am today. On the river I'm sure that you get out there and practice as much as you can, even if you don't feel like you're getting it right all of the time. The same thing goes when applying this stuff to life. Don't give up the first time that something doesn't work out the way you want it to. Keep going back to the basic steps mentioned above and recognize the lesson. Being open to the learning will help you do it differently next time. With practice peel outs and eddy turns become effortless both on and off the water.