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The Hand of God Rescue for Whitewater Kayaking

The Hand of God rescue is a basic rescue skill that can make you a valuable member of any paddling group. It’s great to have when a member doesn’t have a solid roll and can possibly save a life. When someone is upside down in their kayak and unable to roll or wet exit, this technique allows you to flip them upright. Team NRS paddler Stephan Wright gives step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

  1. Paddle your boat over and get right up against and parallel with the upside-down boat.
  2. With your paddle between the boats, reach across their boat with your near hand to grab their cockpit rim and push down on the near edge of the boat with your other hand.
  3. Pull up on the far edge, as you push down on the near edge, until you can get both hands on the cockpit rim and pull the boat upright.
  4. Pull the boat all the way upright, check to see that the person is okay, then grab your paddle and paddle away!

Be aware that you can possibly lose your paddle when doing this. Putting the paddle between you and the other boat can help prevent the loss. However, never put yourself in a situation where you’ll be uncomfortable hand-paddling away if you do lose track of your paddle.

It’s really important to not only watch the video, but to get out in some flatwater and practice the Hand of God rescue. Once you’ve mastered it in flat water, find a nice safe wave train and practice it there too.

Once you’ve mastered the Hand of God rescue, be sure to set up in places like an eddy where a person in trouble might end up. Practice it, play games with your friends and you’ll make the river a safer place for everyone!