How to Splat – Wheel a Kayak

What’s more fun than squirting into a ”Splat”? Smashing the bow down and ‘splat-wheeling’ on across it! The big advantage of having both ends of your boat wafer-thin is that you can get vertical on both sides, and with that ability comes a whole host of aquatic acrobatics you’ll start learning as soon as you are ready. This ”splat-wheel” trick is one of the flashiest ways to showcase your entrance into of this ”3rd Dimension” of river-running and when you find the right rock, it’s also one of the easiest.

1. Find an upstream facing, low-angle (30-50 degrees), flat rock face with a little bit of current pillowing off it. A rock face that’s angled downstream is best for beginners, as you won’t get stuck against it if you flip and the current will help you spin. Make sure there are no limbs / rocks or undercut spots beneath or downstream of it (as you might but upside down soon).

2. Approach slowly at a 45 degree angle to it and use a downstream-side FORWARD SWEEP to lift your bow up onto the rock face.

From here – the downstream current will push your stern past your bow, which is held in place slightly by the abrasive rock surface, so if you do nothing you’ll likely drift backwards off the rock and maybe fall over upstream. So instead …

3. ”SMASH” your bow under you just as you would a flatwater cartwheel! How? Turn your head to look stern-ward on the upstream side of your boat, wind your paddle around towards your stern and when the bow falls off the splat, reverse sweep the bow down into the water at the same angle as the rock.

The goal here is to push your BOW UNDER enough that your STERN WILL RISE UP and the current will push you back into the rock. It doesn’t matter if you get it up to the full angle of the rock, or if you turn the full 180 deg, as the current is about to go to work in your favor once again! Got the bow down? Good! Now..

4. Let the STERN tap onto the rock! This should not only hold it in place as your bow swings under your body on it’s way downstream, but also looks cool and holds your angle for the next end. From here, either flatten the boat out, lean into the rock and paddle away to the next fun spot OR …

5. Repeat Step 3 and keep swapping ends until you run out of rock. Happy Splatwheeling!

Clay Wright
With 120 lb Courtney Kerin and the Mixmaster 7.0 as sports-models.

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