The flat-water loop is the most impressive flat-water trick to be done in a kayak. It may seem well beyond reach but with a little perseverance and understanding of the key ingredients you may be surprised to see just how accessible looping can be.
First, stack everything in your favor. Get a short and stubby boat like a Ronin, Project or All-Star, for these will give the most volume for the “pop” you will need and all have a short stern to pull through the water on the landing. Next use the lowest feather paddle that you feel comfortable with. While it is possible to loop with a high feather it is harder, try 30 degrees or less. The final addition, which can help enormously, is an overthruster, be it homemade, from IR, or even a beach ball, all will work. This will sit the kayak a little higher in the bow stall and give you more volume to work with. So that’s the gear, now on with the move.
1. Establish a bow stall with both blades power face up and wrists rolled forward. Start bouncing by pushing down on the paddle gently with your arms and lean slightly forward. As you reach the peak of the bounce change pressure on the paddle and pull up on the power faces. Try to exert equal pressure on each blade, as this will stop you from loosing balance and give you more power. While pulling your boat into the water stand on your toes to push the kayak further into the water. This puts more of the volume underwater and will give you a larger pop. Take your time getting the right bounce, as rushing this will land you on your face.
2. Once you have pulled the boat into the water, and you know you have a good bounce, roll your wrists back to release the paddle. Now the boat will start to accelerate out of the water with you still standing on your toes with you torso sitting up.
When the boat pops out of the water reach up to the sky with you paddle and wait for the boat to reach the peak of the bounce. For really large flat loops it helps to look up aggressively, guiding your body up and out with your eyes rather than just forward.
3. As you reach the peak of the bounce start reaching out as well as up to set up the arc for the kayak to follow. While you are reaching out start the tuck forward to continue the arc and reach to the water by your toes. This will launch the seat of your kayak over your body and into the air and set you up for the snap. During this motion you are trying to land on your back. This ensures that you have the maximum range of motion to snap the kayak around and the least amount of water to pull you body through at the end of the loop.
Typically this is where the twisting happens during an attempt, as there is a tendency to throw on shoulder across the deck putting the kayak off axis. To stop this, concentrate on planting both hands in the water.
4. The snap needs to happen quickly and decisively, the moment your shoulders hit the water you should be kicking you heels over your head. This is a strong motion so a moment later you will feel the stern of the boat hit the water, push your heels through this and start pushing your body back into the water.
At this point it is common to push back over your head with both blades, but this will leave your shoulders exposed and will slow the recovery down. Instead slice one blade out of the water in front of your face and push the other blade over your shoulder with a bent elbow while sitting up straight. Once you are upright, flat and smiling like a Cheshire cat, start throwing as many as energy will allow. Try them on eddy lines, off rocks, over kayaks and off diving boards.
Here’s a video of how to do it: