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Failing in paddling as those who are in the sport know only too well is a massive part of whitewater kayaking. It’s a very unique sport that encompasses huge amounts of failing before you can even get close to pulling something new off.

Part of paddling is knowing how to fail in the right environment. Having the right safety on the river is key, when your starting off kayaking, having someone next to you is part of being able to fall upside down and be confident that if things go wrong that you have a back up to take care of you.

So why do we do it?
Is a great question for sure! When we constantly doing something that requires us to hit our head against the wall for long periods of time just to be able to eventually see a very small chip in the wall break free. It’s the immense satisfaction in those occasions where there are small moments of success that are the reason we keep paddling. Kayaking is one of the most challenging activities to start as there is a lot to do with gear and equipment as well as the mental fear of being in a kayak and upside down. However being able to slowly work your way into being confident in your kayak is something which I find leads to great successes. But it’s those huge moments that really drive us to keep paddling. A huge light that turns on each time we reach a goal whether it be nailing a dry line down a rapid or eventually making one of the most major breakthroughs in the sport when you first learn to roll. Whatever level you are at those successes and breakthroughs make all the failing and hard work worthwhile.

It takes a unique kind of person to constantly work on something that might appear like a very small goal. Unlike rock climbing, where anyone can go into a rock gym and start climbing within a few minutes, kayaking takes a large amount of time patience and effort. You have to have the right frame of mind to be able to pick yourself up after not achieving much over sometimes hours days or weeks.

It is absolutely fine to fail in kayaking however you must take the right precautions to be able to fail in the right environment. Failing especially in playboating is part of the sport, where you might be working towards one move for years. However when that move is unlocked you get a huge amount of joy and satisfaction.

While for creek boater there are often so many rapids which feel like they are impossible to complete and it is totally normal to go and fail on numerous runs before eventually nailing them with style. However no matter your level all paddlers have to understand the risks involved in being on the river and what their limitations are. There are so many boaters that I have seen on the rivers who try to push their limits on very challenging rivers way before they are up to paddling that run. This is what I would say is not good failing and can be dangerous. Know what you are capable of and if you are not sure then pay for a guide to take you down that run. So many kayakers go off and paddle with someone who only kind of knows the river, or is already challenging themselves to be on that run and is not ready to be take responsibility for showing someone else safely down the run. Unfortunately not that many paddlers pay for an instructor or guide to take them down a new run. Really consider the benefit that you will get from paddling with a guide or instructor on a new river that you are not sure of, there are so many fantastic guides out there and it’s easy to organise.

So basically, failing is absolutely fine in paddling and something that we should embrace however as responsible paddlers we need to consider what our limitations are and work within the environment to make sure that we paddle safely.

Hope to see you on the river sometime,