Friday, October 30, 2009

"Geen beter vermaak dan leedvermaak"? Some reflections after last weeks' crash.

The weblog "Kajaksport op groot water" never had as many visitors as this week, after the post about my crash with the Anas Acuta seakayak. In Dutch language there is this expression: "Geen beter vermaak dan leedvermaak" which means something like "the best joy is on the misfortune of others". In this case that's far too negative and definitely not deserved - on the contrary: comments and e-mails showed sincere commitment and sympathy. Thanks to all of you for this heartwarming support!

It took some days before I started to realize how lucky I was last Sunday. Well, my kayak is broken, but I am not injured myself. It could have ended much worse. This was really a big smash...
And I am glad to notice my conclusion of this fantastic kayak being a total loss, was premature. I received multiple comments about the chances of repairing the kayak. The damage looks dramatic, but there is good chance it can be fixed. I don't think I have time and space (and doubt if I really have the skills) to do this myself, but I've also received some good addresses. I will contact them and inquire about the possibilities. Sorry for the people who showed interest in the remains of the Anas Acuta - I'll first investigate if I can have it fixed myself. You'll hear from me later.

What did I learn from this incident? Could I have prevented the damage?
- First of all my respect for the power of the sea has grown. I lightheartedly thought I could deal with the "wall of water" that suddenly rose before my eyes. And dived into it with confidence...
- Tom suggested to capsize deliberately before the wave gets you. And to roll up after it has passed by. I suppose this is a good strategy - your upper body will work like a kind of anchor and prevent the kayak from gliding backwards. Perfect. Alas: last Sunday my mindset was different: I wanted to play with the waves and didn't want to hide for them.
- A seakayak is less robust than a white-water-kayak: I should have taken this into account and should have adapted my strategy: paddling more on the save side not taken every challenge. Though I still find the Anas Acuta to be the one of the most playful rough-water kayaks: my Anas Acuta is a lightweight full-Kevlar-Carbon kayak which makes it more vulnerable.

Said all this I still find the way the kayak was broken with a sharp cut in two pieces curious. Bow and stern are completely intact - at the moment I was flipped over backwards I didn't notice any impact with the bottom of the beach. (I am sure that would have hurt my back). It looks like the kayak collapsed at the moment it landed upside down (with the deck first) on the water. Very strange.

This weekend I'll paddle my "good old" Pintail with the NKB-seakayakclinic at Sunday - wind is said to increase, but for rough water and surf it would be good if it would be veering a bit more Westerly...


Lee said...

hey mate sorry to hear about the yak.I stumbled on this blog by accident and couldnt believe the damage!

Have you checked with valley yet to see if they will do anything?that looks like a weird break if you never hit anything.

Bon chance man

Anonymous said...

Wel toepasselijk dat je op de disabled parking staat......

Hans Heupink said...

Hi JB!
Ja, dat vond ik ook een mooi plaatje - parkeerplek was vrijgegeven, maar je moet de Goden dus niet verzoeken... ;-)

René said...

Hi Hans,

Having experienced a lot of flip-overs by steep waves in the past, being young(er) ;-) , I developed an internal antipathy against being flipped-over; forward of backward.
It really is bad for your lower back, apart from chances for accidents or damages.

During the years I developed a strategy, always choosing an angle of about 20° when entering a steep wave as well as when surfing such a wave. This gives me the opportunity to brace into the wave and keep things under control.

The option, you mention, of capsizing before the wave hits you , has been mentioned and practised before. Personally I don’t like this as you are NOT in control at all and you are still a toy for the wave to do with you what it wants to do. In other words: the chance remains that you can be flipped over.
Turning the kayak (a bit) before the wave hits, could help.
But personally I prefer not to capsize in case of a particular steep wave, but to turn the kayak and brace at shoulder-height into the wave-wall while edging very extreme.
It could well be that the breaking wave is very powerful and therefor you must fight and grip your paddle with all the power you have preventing it being pulled out of your hands. But you have also to fight to keep your paddle at shoulder height in order to prevent shoulder-damage. When you are doing well you will bongo with the wave until it dies away.
Doing so there is no need to capsize in a steep wave and the only thing you don’t have under control is hitting obstacles or other kayaks. But that’s something one can participate on by not trying to break through waves when there is someone behind you.

Even better it is not to play in surf when the tide is low or going down, because the waves are much steeper and powerful then. I think it’s better to go at rising- of high tide. Under those conditions you often have more fun as well, as the waves are longer and less steep, being better suitable for surfing.

Have fun

Anonymous said...


Axel said...

Hi Hans
I like the "lessons learned" in your post! That gives some advice to think about things we (all) do or have done. With a little distance that's very helpfull - and from my perspectiv very professional!
Axel (CH)