Attaining to Train

Attaining to Train

Max done after doing 10 attainments. PC: Shane Smith

Max done after doing 10 attainments. PC: Shane Smith

What is one of the best ways to succeed at any sport? It is to train, and by train I mean repeatedly practice the moves and motions involved in your chosen sport. Over time, these motions become second nature. So when the time comes to push the limits you need not worry about guessing on how to accomplish a move, or what position your body should be on a landing. Since you have taken the time to train yourself, your muscles will react and counteract faster than you can consciously process the situation.

This past weekend I decided that I did not feel as comfortable in my by boat as I want to be. When I run whitewater that pushes my limits, I need to feel that paddling is “second nature” so that I am confident in all my abilities. I took it upon myself to go up to the Nantahala River and spend a good portion of my time doing the best thing I know to get better, and that is attainments.

I have found attainments to be one of the most effective ways to gain skill in a kayak in a multitude of ways. Below is a list of skills that I feel attainments work on.

Body positioning and posture

Attainments teach good posture, since if your posture becomes broken or sloppy you waste energy and tire more quickly. For example learning to lean forward using your core muscle rather than reaching forward with your arms then rotating your torso to move the boat past the paddle. Rather than the move paddle past your boat with just your shoulders and arms.

Paddle awareness

Many people wonder how to gain paddle awareness when running whitewater. One of the best ways is through doing attainments. The reason for this is since most attainments are done in shallow water adjacent to riverbanks or large boulders. So if you are not aware of your paddle it ends being wacked against rocks and dragged across the riverbed, slowly being destroyed.  In wanting to preserve your paddle and hard earned money you learn to not hit rocks by watching your paddle placement or take a shallow but very effective stroke.

Stroke control

Different moves require different amounts of power and stroke rates. When doing a more powerful move where a high amount of force is needed you learn to take slow powerful strokes. Yet, when moving up the back of an eddy you don’t need to exert as much force but need a faster stroke rate. Thus, teaching you how to paddle more effectively.

Edge control

Attainments are all about making ferries and using the water to your advantage. When you are ferrying you it helps to be on edge to make the move more effective and expend less energy. Furthermore, having to paddle upstream teaches you about the stern of the boat and how it grabs the water helping you catch edges less frequently. So you better learn how to edge properly.

Reading whitewater

Be able to read and interpret whitewater is paramount to better your skills as a kayaker. When you start at the bottom and have to work your way to the top, the only way up is by reading the water and learning were the path of least resistance is. That is looking for small eddies in the river that you can paddle up or waves to surf across.

Above are just a few of the skills one practices when doing attainments. It truly is a great way to train or just get more comfortable on the water. If you don’t believe me go find a section of easy whitewater and give it a shot. It will be tough but the reward is worth it.


More Articles about Attainmetns:


Colorado 10 1/2 days, 13 new rivers.

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We loaded up my trusty Honda CR-V, affectionately referred to as Lady nasty. 3 people Collin Hunt, Brian Snyder, and myself (Sam Ovett), 1 bicycle for shuttle. 5 kayaks. (One playboat that needed a cross country shuttle to its owner and one back up boat. When you go to Colorado it is not a bad idea to bring a back up boat if you have the luxury. The rocks are sharp and mostly unforgiving.  Lady Nasty was also loaded down with camera equipment, camping gear and most importantly a way to make coffee!

Half day Monday

At 2:00pm on Monday afternoon we rolled out of Asheville fired up and ready for an adventure. The pre road trip excitement is one of my favorite parts of a kayaking road trip.

Day 1 Tuesday
Driving and Clear Creek

26 hours later and almost running out of gas once in Kansas we arrived in Colorado at the put in of clear creek. In order to shake off the road trip we put on and ran the upper section of clear creek. 26 hours straight of driving made me feel like a bad kayaker, who knows maybe it wasn’t the driving, either way it was nice to be in a kayak in Colorado.

Day 2 Wednesday
Gore Canyon

Day 3 Thursday
El Dorado Canyon and South Saint Vrain. One paddle lost

Day 4 Friday
Proving Grounds North Saint Vrain. Starting to feel like a Zombie

Day 5 Saturday
North Saint Vrain. Good nights rest, energized for a big mission day. Friendly local paddlers made shuttle possible and park rangers incredibly forgiving.

Day 6 Sunday
Upper South Boulder put in, but did not put on. Tired, feeling sick, not fired up resting and driving.

Day 7 Fun Day Monday!
Yule Creek, hairy side up, big and awesome, great burritos at the end of the day. Wow what a cool day and place.

Day 8 Tuesday
Meat Grinder and Narrows Crystal Gorge. Round 1 awesome, round 2 let my guard down worst swim of my life. Stay focused in class V!

Day 9 Wednesday
2 breakfast biscuits and the Crested Butte Quadruple Crown. OBJ is oh wow awesome!

Day 10 drive back to Asheville.

Round trip from Asheville, NC back to Asheville, NC it took us 10 days in that time we managed to paddle 13 sections of creek and river. While all of it had been run before it was new to us.

-Sam Ovett

Talluah Gorge: Oceana

We had a great time at the first Tallulah Gorge Release. We took time to hang out and run Oceana a couple of times and watch everyones lines down this most excellent and fun rapid! Happy Fall Paddling.