Kayak: The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique by William Nealy

reviewed by Lachlan Ingram, Swan Canoe Club

(Menasha Ridge Press)

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"A mind is a terrible thing to waste - unless you do it right".

So starts of William Nealy's book, "Kayak". For most paddlers this first tidbit of information they have probably already discovered for themselves anyway, but they should nonetheless read the book.

This book I would have to rate as one of the best books for white water paddlers to read, for two reasons:

1 Nealy has aimed this book fairly and squarely at people who know how to paddle and assumes they know the difference between a canoe and a kayak.

2 He gives interesting and highly relevant information in a very amusing, clear and visual manner via his cartoons.

The book assumes that the paddler knows the basics of paddling and has a fairly good idea of how to read a river. Consequently he doesn't stuff around repeating the basics like so many other books that are on the market today.

For me, the first chapter, "Hydrotopography", alone, would make me buy the book. In this he goes through and explains the features of the river bed and how these affect and control the water flowing down it and what will happen to you if you get caught in a U-bend hole.

Other chapters cover rescue techniques, river signals, flooded river technique. There is a flip animation cartoon on the bottom of each page. Also demonstrations of what will happen to you if you high brace with your arms in the surrender position (dislocation, usually). There is a chapter on various rolling techniques and a glossary of paddling terms: a la "river maggot" - a term used by C1 paddlers to describe kayak paddlers.

He also gives some extremely clear and precise methods as to how to calculate how long you will spend being munched in that really mega big gnarly stopper: it is directly proportional to the amount of time you spent staring at it from the bank beforehand.

With this book, even if you are a sprint/marathon paddler and have no intention of going near white, or even poo brown water, this book is a highly amusing way to spend an evening. I would recommend it to all paddlers.

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