Water Girls at Play
July 11, 2013
Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Anna Levesque.
It’s been a wet and rainy summer here in Western North Carolina and that makes for an epic paddling season! Here at Girls at Play we’ve been busy inspiring women to push their limits taking on whitewater kayaking at all levels. Throughout it all we’ve been able to keep ourselves and our students hydrated using Vapur Anti-Bottles!
Our season started out in April with our most challenging and advanced clinic called Creek Week. Women come from all over the country to learn the techniques of Class IV steep creeking on the rivers that Western North Carolina is famous for. We’re proud to be the only kayak school in the world to offer such an advanced women specific creeking class with all female instructors. The students have to be on their game, but we as instructors also have to be at our best setting top-notch safety, smoothly demoing challenging rapids and setting up river logistics. This year Creek Week was so popular that we added a second week that also filled.
Our next big clinic was at the other end of the paddling skills spectrum, a beginner clinic in May. We like to wait until the weather and the water warm up to introduce women to our awesome sport! The first thing any whitewater kayaker needs to learn is the ‘wet exit.’ It’s just how it sounds – an exit from your kayak into the water where you get wet! Because we wear neoprene skirts around the cockpits of our kayaks it’s important to learn how to flip over and exit in calm water. That way we’re not caught off-guard and know what to do when it happens in moving water or whitewater. The first morning of our beginner clinics are spent in flatwater learning skills like the wet exit, basic strokes and edge control so that we’re prepped for the fun of moving water in the afternoon and the following days.
We also run intermediate clinics where we work on class III skills and help women develop their ‘combat roll.’ This means being able to roll back up when you unexpectedly flip in a rapid. Combat rolling is a key skill for building confidence because once you know you’ll roll up most of the time you’re no longer worried about flipping and you’re more willing to push yourself to try new things like surfing! We love surfing our kayaks and did you know that waves in the ocean move through the water, while in contrast, water moves through waves on the river? Waves on rivers are formed when water flows over a shelf or a rock so the feature that forms the wave is ‘permanent.’ The water flowing over that feature creates a wave that you can surf. So the wave on the river is always there and you can surf it over and over again (as long as the water level is good)!
In addition to all of the great kayaking we’ve been doing, we’re also big on stand up paddleboarding (SUP). We offer SUP yoga classes – yes that does mean practicing yoga on the stand up boards! The French Broad River through Asheville is also a great stretch to float on SUPs and we offer SUP skills classes on the lake too.