Who wouldn’t want to have fun like this guy surfing in 15 feet at Z-Dam? I’ve been paddling kayaks on the James River for three years, but never in a whitewater kayak. That will change this weekend, thanks to a class I’m taking through Chesterfield County. I’m taking a two-day crash course in whitewater kayaking, […]
Who wouldn’t want to have fun like this guy surfing in 15 feet at Z-Dam? I’ve been paddling kayaks on the James River for three years, but never in a whitewater kayak. That will change this weekend, thanks to a class I’m taking through Chesterfield County.
I’m taking a two-day crash course in whitewater kayaking, first day in the fantastic lagoon at Dutch Gap Conservation Area and the second day is a run from Pony Pasture Rapids to Reedy Creek.
According to Greg Velzy, the county outdoor programs director (and JROC member), Chesterfield is the only Richmond locality that offers kayak classes.
The classes usually fill up 2-6 weeks in advance. For the whitewater classes, the maximum class size is eight and for the touring and flatwater classes, the maximum is 10, he said. Swimming is required, all equipment provided, minimum age is 13 and the beginning whitewater class costs $140.
“The whitewater classes start on the flatwater at Dutch Gap so the students can learn about the kayaks, and controling them without the added influence of river current.” he said. “We then move to the Pony Pasture area because it provides such an exceptional variety of currents and river features that are suitable for all skill levels, from the beginner to the advanced paddler.”
When asked what might beginners usually have the most trouble learning, Velzy said “making the nimble whitewater kayaks go in a semi straight line, and self composure when first learning how to ‘wet-exit’ the kayak after tipping over. We spend quite a bit of time teaching the wet-exit in a slow and controlled manner as this aspect of whitewater kayaking is crucial to safety — being relaxed when paddling, and future techniques.”
Do you know what you are doing but want a quick reminder? Chesterfield offers “Play Days,” an informal, after-work instructional time for newer whitewater kayakers (especially those without a boat) who need more on the water. Instructors are on hand to answer questions and give pointers. Sessions are held at Pony Pasture Rapids with no down river runs on Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. The cost is $24.
Chesterfield offers the following kayak courses, see the county website for more:
- Kayaking 101 — Introduction to Calm Water Paddling
- Whitewater Kayaking: Beginner Class
- Whitewater Kayaking: Intermediate Skills Clinic
- Whitewater Kayaking: Intermediate After-Work Paddle
- Whitewater River Rescue for Paddlers
- Whitewater Kayaking: Play Days
- Whitewater Kayaking: Full Moon Paddle
- Introduction to River Canoeing
- Kayak and Canoe Orienteering
PHOTO CREDIT: Fantastic work by Rich Young (thank you!)