Course Overview

The River Kayaking course is a program emphasizing safety, enjoyment and skill acquisition for entry-level through intermediate individuals in public, private and commercial settings.

PFD designed for whitewater use, whitewater helmet, clothing suitable for paddling, protective footwear, boat, paddle.

NOTE: The CCA does not provide boating gear.  Participants need to acquire gear and properly outfit prior to the class.

This is typically a two day class to be taught on rivers up to class II rapids.

ACA Official Curriculum: Level 4: Whitewater Kayaking

Introduction, Expectations, & Logistics:

 
  • Welcome, introductions, paperwork

 

  • Student & instructor course expectations and limitations

 

  • Course itinerary & site logistics

  • Review waiver, assumption of risk, challenge by choice, medical disclosure

  • About the ACA

 

  • PFD policy (always wear on water)

 

  • Appropriate personal behavior
 

 

  • No alcohol / substance abuse

 

  • Proper etiquette on & off the water

 

  • Respect private property

 

  • Practice Leave No Trace ethics

 


The Paddling Environment:

The Terminology of Paddling:
  • Wind
  • Types of strokes: power, turning & bracing
  • Waves
  • Stroke components: catch, propulsion, recovery, control and correction
  • Weather
  • Effective Body Usage and Bio-Kinetics
  • Water
  • Use of larger torso muscles

Personal Preparation:

  • Arms as struts connecting paddle to torso
  • Personal Ability
  • Avoidance of positions that contribute to shoulder injury or dislocations
  • Swimming Ability
Getting Started:
  • Water comfort & confidence
  • Launching, carries, landing 
  • Fitness, conditioning, and warm up
  • Water confidence and comfort 
  • Safe paddle and boat handling
  • Rescue Priorities: People, gear, & boats 
  • Safety and rescue considerations
  • The Terminology of Paddling (frequently blended in with stroke instruction)

  • Personal equipment (reviewed by Instructor)
  • Types of strokes: power, turning & bracing
  • Judgment. In addition to learning hard skills, the importance of developing personal judgment and group responsibility increases on more difficult paddling venues.
  • The Terminology of Paddling (frequently blended in with stroke instruction) 

Water Comfort:

  • Types of strokes: power, turning & bracing 
  • Launching, carries, landing
  • Stroke components: catch, propulsion, recovery, control and correction
  • Water confidence and comfort
  • Stroke components: catch, propulsion, recovery, control and correction

  • Wet exits
  • Effective Body Usage and Bio-Kinetics
  • How to empty a kayak
  • Use of larger torso muscles
  • Rescue Priorities: People, gear, & boats
  • Arms as struts connecting paddle to torso

 

  • Avoidance of positions that contribute to shoulder injury or dislocations

Equipment: Rescue: 
  • Kayak: types, materials, flotation, parts (including safety features: walls, foot braces, grab loops)
  • Principles of Rescue 
  • Kayak outfitting: comfort & safety; back rests, hip pads
    • Priorities - People, Boats, Gear 
  • Paddle: types, parts, length, blade size & shape, fitting, hand position
    • Responsibilities of Victim
  • Spray skirts: types & material, grab loop!
    • Responsibilities of Rescuers 
  • Care of equipment
  • Types of Rescue 
  • Personal Equipment: water, food, shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, sun glasses, eyeglass straps, protective clothing for heat or cold, sponge, hat, foot protection, food, bailer, whistle
    • Self-Rescue in moving current (REQUIRED)
  • Car topping: Loading and unloading, racks, tie down
    • Body/boat positions 
  • Life jackets (PFDs): types, fit
    • Handling equipment 
  • Helmet: types, fit
    • Boat-Assisted Rescue 

 

    • Tired Swimmer 

 

    • Towing

 

    • Bumping 

 

    • Shoreline Rescue - Extension Rescues 

 

    • Use of Throw Bags/Ropes 

 

    • Pinned Craft 

 

  • Introduce ACA River Rescue Course 

 

  • Need to take a First Aid and CPR course 

 

Maneuvers (Practiced on Flatwater): River Reading: 
  • Spins (onside and offside): boat pivots in place
  • Fundamentals of River Currents 
  • Forward: boat moves in reasonably straight line
  • Current speed, direction and changes caused by streambed features 
  • Reverse: boat moves in a reasonably straight line
  • Downstream and Upstream V's / Chutes 
  • Stopping: boat stops within a reasonable distance
  • Eddies/ Eddy Lines 
  • Turns: boat turns in broad arc made while underway
  • Waves/ Wave Holes 
  • Veering, Carving, and paddling the “inside circle”
  • Inside and Outside Bends 
  • Abeam: boat moves sideways without headway
  • Effects of Obstacles 
  • Sideslips: boat moves sideways with headway
  • Ledges/ Horizon Lines 
Strokes (Required):
  • Strainers & Sieves 
  • Forward Sweep (anticipatory and reactive techniques)
  • Rocks/ Pillows 
  • Reverse Sweep
  • Holes/ Hydraulics 
  • Stern Draw
  • Other Hazards 
  • Side Draw
  • Power of the Current / River Level 
  • Forward
  • Cold Water 
  • Back
  • Dams/ Flow Diversion Structures/ Pipelines 
  • T (Eskimo) Rescue
  • Undercut Rocks / Ice 
  • High Brace
  • International Scale of River Difficulty (handout: American Whitewater Safety Code)
  • Low Brace
 
  • Bow Draw and Duffek
 
  • Stationary Draw
 
  • Sculling Draw
 
Optional at instructors’ discretion  
  • Roll 
 

 

Whitewater Practice:  Judgment: 
  • Ferries 
  • In addition to learning hard skills, the importance of devloping personal judgment and group responsibility increases on more difficult paddling venues.
  • Eddy Turns 
Self Awareness: 
  • Peelouts 
  • Understanding your level of anxiety 
  • Wide (exit wide from eddy line) 
  • Understanding your personal style and risk tolerance 
  • Shallow (exit close to eddy line) 
  • Responsibility to the group 
  • Sequences of Maneuvers 
  • River and group awareness 
  • C-turns (Peel out and eddy into same eddy) 
  • Rapid Analysis Scenarios 
  • S-turns (Peel out one side and eddy into opposite side) 
 
  • Surfing 

 

River Running:   
Strategies in running rivers   
How to paddle in current   
Spacing/ Avoid "tunnel vision"   
Scouting and rapid analysis scenarios   
From boat/ From shore   
How to establish the "best" route/ “Plan "B"   
Portaging hazards   
Group organization on the river   
Group cohesiveness (lead, sweep boats, etc.)   
Universal river signals   
Emergency Procedures   

    

Self Evaluation: Conclusion & Wrap Up: 
  • What moves are required to successfully run the rapid?
  • Group debrief / Individual feedback 
  • Can I perform the required moves?
  • Course limitations 
  • What are the consequences of missing the required moves?
  • Importance of First Aid & CPR 
  • Am I willing to accept these consequences?
  • Importance of additional instruction, practice, experience 
  • What if?
  • Importance of appropriate level of safety & rescue training
  • Rescue considerations
  • Demo advanced maneuver

Group Evaluation - Skill level of the group:

  • Life sport / Paddling options
  • Size of the group Group consequences
  • Local paddling groups / Clubs
  • Condition of the group
  • Handouts / Reference materials 
  • Continue learning process from more experienced paddlers 
  • ACA Membership forms 
  • Responsibility to support other padders (no peer pressure) 
  • Course evaluation 
  • Group Equipment: extra paddle, rescue sling, drybags, maps, first aid kit and location, rescue gear 
  • Participation cards
  • Guidebooks / Local Knowledge
 
  • Assessing Current Environmental Conditions (including: Water, Weather, Time of Day, and Temperature, Limited Access: Canyons, Cliffs, Remote Area)
 
  • Assessing Personal and Group Dynamics (Skills, Equipment, Group Makeup, Mental Status, Logistics, group selection, leadership)