Where can a beginner learn white water rafting

As a beginner you can learn to paddle in white water

A basic rule in whitewater sports is to dress according to the water temperature and not the air temperature. There are always misunderstandings in midsummer. “But even when it's 30 degrees outside, wild rivers are often below 10 degrees. That gives a real cold shock, ”says Christian Tiefenbacher, canoe instructor and federal advisor to nature lovers for paddling sports. Again and again you see supposedly cool guys with a bare chest under the life jacket. “But once you've gotten so wet and cooled down even further in the breeze - then that can get bad.” Apart from that: “Bad” is actually hardly anything in kayaking, and in contact with white water in general. This is confirmed by everyone who has already tried it, for example in the adventure and team sport rafting. This is where the boarding threshold is lowest (see box at the back). In kayaking, you should definitely start by attending a course. “That is actually a duty. If you then know and master the basic techniques, and heed the basic rules, then the sport can be done very safely. It can be dangerous on your own, ”says Tiefenbacher.

Like another world
If you learned it correctly, kayaking down a wild river is one of the most beautiful experiences in nature. “It's similar to climbing: You get excited about what you're doing and in the moment and ignore everything that burdens your head in everyday life. In addition, the natural space appears in a completely different light from a river. It's like being in another world, ”is how the kayak instructor, who has been practicing this sport for 29 years, describes it. Beginners courses usually last over an "extended" weekend. Better: choose five-day courses, so the instructor can take more with you. It doesn't take much to take part in the course: you have to be able to swim and be twelve years old. Bring swimming trunks and a bath towel. Everything else is borrowed. So: wetsuit, neoprene jacket and shoes, helmet and life jacket. And of course a kayak to match your body size - plus a spray deck and a double paddle.
Material and basic rules of conduct are explained in the dry, the correct sitting position is set. And then it goes into the water - albeit once in the calm of a lake.
But the calm is deceptive. Because capsizing and getting out is the first real test of courage on the program. Letting yourself fall over while sitting in the boat, loosening the spraydeck with your head under the water, staying calm and not losing your paddle with all this is a sense of achievement. Nothing can happen, the coach is right there. "Water cooling" and a good mood in the group help against stress.

Course objective: Level II of VI
Beginners' courses usually go into whitewater on the second or third day. The basic strokes must be learned and practiced beforehand on shallow water. A simple river section is chosen for the first contact with flowing water. According to the difficulty table of the International Canu Federation (ICF), whitewater level I means any flowing body of water. The aim of a five-day introductory course is to drive level II (“moderately difficult”) safely and to be able to help yourself in an emergency. The ICF definition then provides for four further levels of difficulty - i.e. III to VI. “Driving straight ahead, keeping the boat stable on course and not overturning in the current”, that is initially enough of a challenge for beginners in simple whitewater. It's about developing a feeling for the kayak and its reactions, the main challenge here lies in the coordination area. Strength and endurance come into play later as components, once you have already mastered the device technically. As always, there are natural talents in paddling and those who need a little more time and practice. But the sport can be learned by everyone. It makes sense that one or the other refreshing bath is a must, especially during the learning phase. However, thanks to the instructor's tips, progress is usually made quickly.

main thing is to have fun
“For the remaining days, what you have learned is implemented in running water and slowly increased. Important: It has to be fun so that learning progresses well, ”says Christian Tiefenbacher. At the end of the beginners' course, you are usually ready to continue training what you have learned yourself. What the basic course also brings: You are so familiar with the material that you can buy your own equipment (but it is essential that you seek advice from a specialist shop). Joining a club after successfully entering the sport is highly recommended. You shouldn't be alone in whitewater, similar to the unsecured ski area in winter, in order to be able to help each other in an emergency. “From now on it's time to practice, practice, practice”, Christian Tiefenbacher gives his protégés on the way. And: "Attend a course again soon." Advanced courses are offered in kayak schools for the most varied of skill levels - and a technology update is always good for experienced kayaks as well. And for all freshly immersed, the following applies: At level II of six whitewater difficulty levels there is still plenty of scope for learning ...