In this tutorial I’m going to be going over the steps to both loop when seal launching and get your boat onto the side without getting out (videos below). If you own a playboat (preferably a plastic one) and can confidently loop on either flatwater or whitewater both of these tricks should be achievable. The first looks really cool and the second is actually very useful, especially if you’re bad at getting out of the boat normally or if the current is quite strong.
Starting with a seal launch-loop, the first thing you have to do is find a suitable platform – this isn’t that difficult but it’s an important prerequisite. The platform off of which you’re sliding should be flat and raised slightly above the water, if it isn’t, then getting into the boat and pushing your bow under the water becomes extremely difficult. A height of 40-80cm is perfect (similar to the videos), any higher and landing properly becomes the issue. Now that you’ve found the right place to do it, we’ll move onto the set up. You position your boat (before getting into it) so that the seat is close to the lip and your knees are just over it – this will allow you to get in safely without the boat sliding in early, but still provide you with enough leverage to initiate the trick. Now get into your boat and be careful not to apply too much pressure on your feet. You can test whether you’ve set up correctly by doing a little hop forwards while pushing down with your legs, if the bow starts to tilt downwards and the stern lifts then you’ve found the right balancing point (you can always shuffle around until you find it).
So you’ve found the right platform and you’ve set up correctly, what now? Throw your weight forwards and push down with your feet, this will lift the stern and initiate the slide. As your bow hits the water stay leaning forwards and commit, if you stand up too early you’ll push on your feet sending your stern over your head and resulting in a face plant. Only once you feel the water begin to resist your downwards motion should you stand up, this will bring the boat vertical and set you up perfectly to finish with a loop (the details of which I describe from Step 7 in this post: https://patrickyak.blog/2021/01/23/how-to-flatwater-loop/)
How do I get out with style? It’s always so inelegant and I almost fall in! Position your boat so that it’s parallel to the side with your right hand closest to the platform (reverse this if you’re left-handed). Place your paddle away to the left – so as to avoid crushing it – and then twist your core and place both hands flat on the side roughly shoulder width apart. Edge your boat around 30-40 degrees, push down hard with your right hand and pull your legs underneath you. This takes quite a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Once you can balance like this, your next task is to bounce. Push down with both hands to lift the boat out of the water as much as you can and then let it drop, the more you repeat this the more bounce you should get. When the boat is almost completely out of the water at the top of the movement, let it drop while simultaneously moving your hands further onto the platform. When you reach the bottom of the bounce, push away with your legs, look under your left shoulder and twist your core to the left as you push down with your arms. The boat should pop out of the water (but towards the platform rather than just up) and twist in the air so that you land facing the water again. Now you know a snazzy way of getting out!
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