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If you missed Part 2 of this series, please go back and review as learning curve is related to the size boat and  your weight… important to undertand how they affect each other!

Your Kayak and Your Learning Curve-

(Photos by Peter Holcombe)

I can graph anyone’s relative learning curve pretty accurately based on:

  1. Boat they are in
  2. Days/year paddling
  3. Rivers they are on
  4. Who they are paddling with

Lots of different boats at a put-in… some paddle flat, some paddle in 3D… All of them are fun, but some teach you faster than others.

I will start with who they are with and finish with the boat so you understand just how important that part is:   After that, I will relate it directly to the MixMaster.

  1. Who you paddle with:   If you paddle with a group that floats the river, doesn’t try any new stuff, and/or who’s skill level isn’t higher than yours, your learning curve will be cut dramatically unless you are extremely self-motivated and try stuff on your own.
  2. Days/year you paddle:   Paddling more days is not always a linear curve to your learning.   It is exponential as you start increasing days and frequency and then flattens out again once you get up in numbers to big numbers like 200+ days/year.  For 90% of the people, twice as many days equals 2-4 times the learning because you’ll being to experiment and go past your normal comfort zone.
  3. Rivers you paddle on:  Every river is different- are you playing or just getting down the river?   A creek offers certain learning and so does a play run.   A mix of them offers the maximum learning curve, but a play run offers more than a creek as you get the vertical realm, etc.. and it prepares you for holes, waves, rolling, bracing, etc..   A creek tends to be more survival/safety and the willingness to try things that result in rolling is reduced dramatically on most of the river.
  4. Boat you are in:   this is the MixMaster or Nirvana?   Play or creek?     Spending your time in a playboat your learning curve will be twice as steep on average, because:
    1. You will be rolling more often-typically about 10-20 times as much.
    2. You will be spending  more time bracing- due to the edges, low volume, and trying to do moves that put you off balance (cartwheels, squirts, blasts, loops, etc..)
    3. You will learn real edge control and weight over the boat skills-  a playboat has edges that slice UNDER the water and that you use to control the boat.  A creek boat, even ones that the marketing department says has “Edges” isn’t referring to this type of edge, which is the leading edge of a wing.     In order to learn to cartwheel, lean clean, squirt, etc. you need to learn a high level of edge control.    A playboat has edges that are always in play, you’ll be exposed to the edges on every peel out, ever rapid and move.   It is like a pair of skis- sharp edges that help you carve and control yourself with practice, or cause you to catch them and crash when learning.
    4. Features- Waves, holes, eddylines, rocks-    A playboat is designed to put all of the features you’ll find in a river in your quiver as a fun place to play.    
      1. Holes- Creekers who don’t playboat, get stuck in holes, are scared of them, and don’t know how to deal with them.  People who have play boating experience (I challenge  you to name any top creek boater who doesn’t have a strong play boating background in their past, even if they no longer play much or at all)   Playboating teaches you how retentive a hole is, how to move around in it, how to get out, how to loop out of it, and gives you confidence to use them in your creek runs as eddies, etc.. where you wouldn’t otherwise.
      2. Rocks- spins, splats, rock boofs, etc..  you begin to incorporate them into your river running with more play experience with them.
      3. Waves- getting better at surfing waves means being able to use them on hard rivers for important ferries, etc..
      4. Eddylines:   Squirting on eddy lines makes crossing them and dealing with boils, etc. on a river run much easier.

Here Wade Harrison Gets the MixMaster on the Ocoee for the first time…


Learning Curve in a MixMaster specifically:

The heavier you are in the boat, the more “in play” the edges will be, the more likely  you’ll have water on the deck and your boat will go vertical.    This will force you to “Deal with it” more often and teach you to begin “USING” the edges to control the boat instead of the edges controlling you!   Ultimately the edges become your tool, your edge control (hips) become in tune with how the water is acting on your boat, and you learn to control your weight leans and keep your weight over your boat better, reducing bracing, increasing control.       If you are super lightweight in the MixMaster, you won’t feel the edges as much, and can paddle it like a normal river runner, so your learning curve will not be as steep.

I hope you found this Series Helpful!  

Here are the 2018 MixMaster Colors!  Which one are you going to get?

See you on the river!