How to Cartwheel a Kayak

How to Cartwheel a Kayak
Cartwheeling a kayak is a freestyle technique that involves taking a kayak on edge and then rotating it so that first the bow, then the stern, smashes into the water while on edge. Learning to perform a technique like this takes a great deal of practice. Make sure you use a freestyle kayak and have someone there who can help you if you run into trouble and advise you on ways to improve your technique.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Short freestyle kayak
  • Paddle
  • Life jacket
  • Assistant
Step 1
Set your kayak up for the cartwheel. To begin doing a cartwheel, your kayak needs to be tilted on its edge. Begin with a few forward strokes, then use the j-lean technique to get your kayak on edge. To do this, keep your upper body upright but tilt your hips to the side while you paddle. Your body should form the shape of the letter J. Do a forward sweep with your paddle, keeping your paddle parallel to the water's surface.
Step 2
Throwdown or smash the bow into the water. While leaning forward, start doing a reverse pry. Shift your weight and lean your whole body forward and try to smash your face into the water in front of you. Use your feet and legs to push your body forward. This will cause the bow of your kayak to smash into the water and go perpendicular.
Step 3
Smash the stern into the water. To rotate your kayak and get your stern perpendicular in the water, it's important to lead your movements with your head. Shift your weight and do a forward sweep. Plant the paddle close to the bow and lead the movement with your head. This will cause the kayak to rotate in the water again.
Step 4
Transition your kayak into a bow smash. Lead the movement with your head again and aim to smash your face into the water again. Do a reverse stroke and push your whole body forward and your legs down until you smash the bow of your kayak in the water.

Tips & Warnings

In addition to leading with your head, cartwheeling a kayak involves strong abdominal muscles. To help you to cartwheel, consider adding some weight training to your regular exercise routine.
When you're first learning how to cartwheel, consider practicing with the smallest kayak that you can find.
Have a friend film you while you practice so you can study what exactly you might be doing wrong.
When you are leaning forward and getting your kayak perpendicular, it's important not to stand up in your kayak or you can end up losing control of it.

Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen

Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.

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