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I guess we need to start with an explanation of attaining. It was a staple of my youth and is likely the best way to get a workout in your WW kayak. Attaining is the art of paddling your boat upstream through a rapid. I know that a bunch of you are thinking “Why the heck would you want to do that?”. As it turns out attaining is a great way to challenge yourself and improve your skills in a very applicable way to all types of kayaking. Have you ever surfed a great wave that you could not get back up to? How about a rescue where your buddy got pinned upstream of you? Have you ever run out of good looking options while boat scouting a rapid? These are just a few examples of where attaining may be the single best way to remedy the issue.

Now that we have established that attaining is a worthwhile venture lets look at how we should get into the fun. First you can attain in any boat, but having said that a fast boat makes it easier and it also allows you more options of rapids that you can paddle up. Start off with a rapid that has a small amount of gradient, defined features, and low consequences if you miss the move. Start building your plan by looking where you want to end up, and work your way backwards by connecting the dots with usable river features. Diagonal waves, holes, eddies, and even slower moving water are all things that you should start to look for. Over time this process will simply happen on the fly once you know the speed and handling of your UL as well as your proficiency of reading the conditions continues to improve.
A solid plan is the start but it will not get you upstream. Start off by attempting to execute your plan a few time by varying your entry speed, ferry angles, and in some cases a new plan. Don’t sweat it if you do not get up the rapid the first few times. The most common pit falls when attaining have to do with ferry angle and speed. With a longer boat that you can paddle fast it is super likely that you will have your ferry angle blown off as you start to cross major currents. Remember that you need to be more spot on with a longer boat and that if you have a bit too much angle it is harder to bring the bow back up stream if you get blown off course. Try smaller amounts of ferry angle as you start. Also practice varying your speed. It is possible to paddle up and over a feature you were planning on surfing across a current. If you are hitting a wall in that department try to slow things down and focus on getting where you want to be on the feature in question and let the speed of the UL do the work for you.
This past weekend we went to the South Fork of the American river and my buddy Toby got in my UL for the first time. This was by far the longest WW boat he had paddled. 8’ 6” was the previous length he had boated. We got to maya wave and he got after it, and in 20 minutes and a few attempts he went from never having attained a big rapid to doing it three times in a row. Get out there and start paddling upstream!

Later ; Colin
Team JK