Hi all – I thought I would share some words of wisdom from Ben Miller, a former BEC member who has moved ‘up north’:
Have you ever thought about all the time and effort, that goes into teaching aspiring paddlers how to stay upright in their boats: – pool sessions, flat water rolls, moving water rolls, eskimo rolls, screw rolls, hand rolls, ham rolls? What a waste of time and energy! Now you may think that this is an essential part of a paddler’s repertoire of skills. However, I ask you to consider, if only for a moment, what great advantage this imparts, compared to the largely untapped and neglected province of, upside down paddling, UDP for short. I mean have you ever thought of viewing the river from a fish’s perspective? No? Well let me enlighten you. As a long time adherent of this noble art, allow me to take you on a journey that many will have experienced, mostly in the upright position. – The Dart trip. I mean until you have been washed in the Washing machine, tripped at Triple falls, leapt on at Lovers Leap and finally spun in the Spin Drier, have you really experienced all that this river can offer? Well many of you have, I know, I have seen you doing it but let me add a new dimension to all this excitement.
Let us begin at the put-in, followed by a swift dipping going through the arches of the bridge, or merely drop your knee on the upstream side of the flow – whoomf, upside down. Now forget the set-up, which technique to employ, all that flaying about and underwater panic, as you try to remember what to do next. Just take a moment or two to adjust your eyes to this new and exciting environment, and then a whole new world comes into view. Did you know, for example, that the Dipper bird (a fellow underwater enthusiast) actually walks along the bottom of the river spotting kayaks as it goes? The real twitchers among this aquatic, avian adventurer, can identify individual brands of kayak:- Perception, Piranha, Prijon, Pillock, etc. Next time you ‘spot’ a dipper, just think, who is ‘spotting’ whom?
Some of the features of this particular river are not entirely suited to good UDP and are best appreciated when separated from one’s boat. The Washing Machine, being a classic example, its’ cycled spin does not allow for good UDP, unless you and your kayak are no longer a partnership. However, which blue-blooded individual will not feel their pulse rate surge, when being rhythmically bounced against the wall at Lovers Leap, whilst in a compromised position? If you are new to Aussie Rules paddling, then it might be best to do Triple Falls, one at a time. It takes a real pro to go through all three falls in the ‘half past’ position. It is well worth the effort, when you catch the look of incredulous admiration and awe on the faces of your fellow paddlers, as you emerge still in the UDP position and still attached to your boat. Even the Dippers applaud, which is no mean feat, getting their approval. Finally, the Spin Dryer, my own personal favourite. Just think what you have to pay at Thorpe Park, or similar, to experience the same – upside down and going round and round, except that here it’s free. First time I came across this watery, whirling dervish, I enjoyed it so much, I didn’t want to leave!
So if you really do want to impress and gain unspoken admiration for your paddling prowess, forget the upper brace, lower brace, eskimo rescue, leave all that rolling knowledge in the pool. Don’t bother banging three times to attract attention or with writing pto on the bottom of your boat, go straight for the upside down position and enjoy a whole new vista and meaning of the term ‘extreme sport’. Then you too can become a fully-fledged, card-carrying member of the UDP club.
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