Buying kayaks for beginners is the perfect way to get your feet wet without having to spend an arm and a leg on a professional kayak. Even inflatable kayaks are a great way to get started. Whether you plan to use your new kayak on a river, a lake or in the ocean, all you need are a few good tips and tricks to make sure the experience is a positive, enjoyable, and educational one.
Whitewater kayaking is an adventure sport that is certainly not meant for the weak hearted. In layman’s terms whitewater can be described as the bubbly water that is seen across rivers, when the water flows overs rocks, or when something obstructs the flow of water. Whitewater is the term that is sometimes used to describe water that looks turbulent. Whitewater kayaking is an extreme sport that involves the paddling of a kayak on a white water river, or any other body of water.
Whitewater kayaking has been around since the dawn of humankind. But it existed in another form- in the form of paddling across rivers, across lakes and on the oceans as well. Starting off from rafts, canoes and catamarans, the kayak is the latest in the evolution of paddling. The kayak originated from the Polar Regions and was made by stretching animal skin across a wooden frame. Most modern kayaks are made from tough plastic that is very durable and a little more flexible.
Whitewater kayaks come with certain specifications. Those that are longer usually go faster. Touring or the sea kayaks which have to traverse longer distances are usually 6ft to 19ft in length. Whitewater rapids that are used in rapids over rivers are usually about 8ft in length.
As there are many grades of whitewater, broadly 4 kinds of whitewater kayaks are available:
1. River running kayaks – these kayaks are ideal for beginners and also the experienced paddler. River running kayaks are extremely comfortable and their smooth round bows, make it easy to brace and roll. These kayaks also contain outfitting that can be customized.
2. Creeking Kayaks – If you are seeking thrills and extreme adventure in whitewater, then a creeking kayak will be suitable for you. These kayaks are designed to maneuver the difficult rapids. They are very sturdy can endure abuses of boulders and rocks in narrow creeks. Creeking kayaks are the largest in the whitewater family. They are most certainly built with the whitewater thrill seeker in mind.
3. Freestyle kayaks – These are also known as the play boating kayaks. With a freestyle kayak you can perform a variety of spinning, surfing and vertical moves on the river.
4. Free running kayaks – These are meant for those kayakers who want to enjoy the thrill of the entire river. It can be called a hybrid between a river running kayak and a freestyle kayak. This is the kayak that is most suitable for beginners, who can use them to learn how to brace, roll, and play.
Whitewater is classified into six grades or classes. The first grade is those rapids or white waters that have very small rough areas and need very little maneuvering. The skill required at this level is almost nil. The second grade which can be described as moving water offers little difficulty and may require maneuvering skills. The third grade may have medium waves and may require a lot of maneuvering and paddling skills. The fourth grade has large waves and rapids and for this, whitewater experience will be needed. Class five requires advanced whitewater kayaking experience. Class 6 rapids are extremely dangerous and whitewater kayaking at this level should only be tried by the experts.