Straddle remount vs sidesaddle remount

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #40084 by Arcturus
Apologies for posting a newb question.

Which way do you prefer?

I was under the impression that sidesaddle was pretty much THE best way, but recently I ran into some complications doing it.

Practicing in flat water, it’s always been doable...but the paddle also felt insecure held parallel to the far gunnel. It was almost impossible to keep it from dipping an end down and wanting to slide UNDER the hull. (This would be after I had gotten my upper body across, on top.) Still, in calm to lightly bouncy water, I could complete the remount.

But the whole process did not ever feel robust enough that I would trust it, and it turned out in bigger conditions, the paddle DID get pulled under the hull. And on my third attempt to remount, it slid to where the coil part of the leash snagged and held the blade so I could not free it quickly. (I had deliberately dropped underwater after flipping to come up on the upwind side of the ski, so that must’ve been when the snag occurred.)

To make a long story shorter, someone paddled over after I had the paddle clear and was again hanging prone across my ski, thinking, “I should try something different this time.” I was getting tired enough I wondered how many more times I could get up and across the top, a nice stable position that I was becoming reluctant to abandon. With them holding the paddle, I said I was going to throw a leg over the other side while on my belly instead of doing the twist and flip. It worked and took less effort. Surprisingly less.

I decided to practice the straddle method at home, AND to hold the paddle across the cockpit with the near hand clamping it to the rigid footstrap (much more solid grip that way).

I got exposed to COVID a few days later so when at home I was off the water for more than two weeks, and the “monsoon season” here is limiting good boating days.. Still working my way back to the previous amount and level of exercise. When I finally practiced the straddle remount, it was indeed easier for me, with no paddle hijinks. Holding the paddle clamped across, onto the footstrap, with my upper body diagonally across rather than perpendicular to the ski, also meant I could pull myself forward slightly before throwing the leg to the other side.

Searching for videos on remounts results in almost nothing on the straddle method. I found ONE good description with photos and that person’s assessment of when each method might work better.

So now I really am curious: What is your favorite method, and why?

I suspect part of the reason why I like straddle is because once the up-and-over body position is attained, it is an easy transition to being seated with paddle ready to go again. It is also similar to what the sea kayaking “cowboy remount” entails—and in that method the paddle is also held clamped across, against the rear coaming. Getting up and over in BACK of the cockpit is the easiest place on a sea kayak, especially for someone who is light and small, like me.
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Arcturus.

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1 month 1 week ago #40085 by Arcturus

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1 month 1 week ago #40088 by Atlas
The best remount strategy is the one that works for you. Sounds like the straddle / cowboy methods is working for you which is good. It is certainly a fast method if you don't fall in during the very high and unstable transition from lying on your belly to getting your legs forward and your bum in the bucket. That is the part that I always had trouble with. That meant that I frequently ended up having several attempts before successfully remounting and paddling off. Very tiring and not particularly quick as it turned out.
Although I'm lucky enough not to need it very often; I exclusively use the side saddle remount now. I find it almost bullet proof. Although there are more steps to it and theoretically it takes a fraction longer; I find that I am in a stable position at virtually every point in the process.
I don't quite understand how you get your paddle caught up in your leash. Is that your leg leash or do you use a paddle leash? I don't use a paddle leash although I do carry one in my BV pocket in case I need two hands to help another paddler or to fix the steering mechanism on my ski. I do usually have to adjust my leg leash before a remount but that is just part of the remount procedure.
I also use the side saddle method for shallow water mounting of the ski and also my sea kayak. This means that I can start in deeper water than would be necessary for a straddle entry. The result is that I don't hit my rudder if I'm starting from a rocky shore.

Current boats
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double, Nelo 600, Expedition Kayaks Azure

Previous boats
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club, Epic V9 Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV
Most with DK rudders

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #40089 by Arcturus
It was a leg leash, secured just below the knee and tethered to the ski at the little black bump in the recess in front of the bucket. (Whew, that’s a lot of prepositions.) The wandering blade must have snagged when I ducked down (paddle in hand) to move to the upwind side of the ski. I remember wondering why I could not just lift it out of the water, and I had to let go of the paddle, though I quickly grabbed it again. That’s when I found out the blade was wrapped in the coils just below where blade joins shaft. To free it from the coils, I had to keep pulling the ski close enough that the leash’s tension was loosened.

For me, the transition from diagonally across on my belly to butt in seat felt easier than doing the twist move in sidesaddle. I still need to do more of them to see if it’s consistently easier. BUT at least clamping the paddle across at the footstrap kept the paddle more solidly in place.

It’s interesting that you also get on the ski from the side when launching (and presumably, when landing). Sometimes I do it that way, but I prefer straddling the ski—which, because it is fairly wide in back of the cockpit, means I have to straddle it farther back towards the stern and scoot forward. In other words, that movement is familiar. Or sometimes to avoid rudder hitting bottom, I just put the ski in stern first, backpaddle (with the bailer CLOSED!!!!), and turn around in deeper water.
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Arcturus.

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #40090 by Atlas
Yes. I can picture that scenario (thanks to the abundance of prepositions).
I suppose during a remount we all hold the paddle slightly differently due to many factors. Large hands are useful here but not everyone has that advantage.
I wonder if holding the paddle across the ski at the foot strap would work for you while doing a sidesaddle remount. I have done this in the past and it works for me. However I don't have trouble holding my paddle against the far side gunwale. This also means that my hand is holding the paddle in the same position that I will use to start paddling. That's what I do these days.
Having said all of that; I think that if a straddle remount works for you then it is a good option particularly in a race where every second counts. It is interesting and perhaps quite telling to hear that you start in the straddle position and sometimes a "high straddle" position. I think that is possibly why you can manage a straddle remount better than I can.
Obviously regular practice is the most important factor whatever method we choose. As has been said many times on this forum by people wiser than I am; when remounting is routine it takes the stress away and the whole process becomes quick and easy. It's easy to forget how important this is.
I've found while remounting for real in the kind of conditions that have tipped me out in the first place; it is very helpful to take my time. A few seconds to get my head in the right space and to make sure I'm up wind, not tangled up in anything and my grip on the paddle is what I've practiced makes all the difference.
Doing dips and chin-ups in the gym also helps enormously.

Current boats
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double, Nelo 600, Expedition Kayaks Azure

Previous boats
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club, Epic V9 Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV
Most with DK rudders
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Atlas.

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1 month 1 week ago #40091 by waverider
You can put paddle across footplate with doing side mount if you like. Alternatively if you have issues keeping forward blade above water when mounting (picking paddle up when this has happened can be dodgy) then hold the paddle further up the shaft than normal so you can balance it better.

Some boats are easier to do one way or the other, depending on width and gunwale heights. Also individuals flexibility and balance is all different. I cant do straddle to save my life.

If you mount from side make sure you can do it from both as being upwind of boat will determine which side you have to mount from. You cant swim under to preferred side if it puts you downwind of boat

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #40093 by Arcturus
“Get on the upwind side” was the first thing I thought of. That part is the same when starting cowboy remount with a sea kayak, so it’s already ingrained. I have always practiced everything on both left and right sides—also ingrained into practice sessions.

Thinking back more, one thing I should have practiced with sidesaddle was keeping at least one leg hanging (from the upwind side) longer. I tended to rush getting them both inside. On one of the failed sidesaddle attempts on That Day, I had just gotten both legs inside with butt down but not in good balance, when the next wave shoved me over.

With straddle, my legs are not doing a split, just in case that thought is causing a big wince! After lunging myself diagonally up and over (both legs still on upwind side), I pull/swivel myself to be inline with the long axis of the ski—still lying prone, not sitting up yet. Simultaneously, I swing the downwind side leg over that side. Now the lower legs are each dangling from their respective sides with me lying facedown, upwind hand still clamping the paddle to the solid footstrap and downwind hand holding the gunnel slightly forward of the position that would put my elbow in the deepest part of the bucket. Then getting butt in bucket and bringing legs under footstraps isn’t too dicy. I think there’s something about “hugging the ski” and not turning around that makes it feel better to me.

I agree that body shape, dimensions, flexibility, and ski shape and dimensions make a big difference. It’s easier for me to get across a low, narrow sea kayak than a tall or wide one, and I bet the same applies with a ski. Mine is pretty wide but it’s also low.
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Arcturus.

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1 month 1 week ago #40094 by SpaceSputnik
I think the key to side-saddle is to hold your paddle at the center of the shaft so it's balanced.
I have small hands and the gunnels of my 520 are wide enough to make it tricky. So what I settled upon is basically not putting any force on on the far hand and concentrating on keeping the paddle steady. All of my upward force comes from pushing on the low hand. Works fine for me but I might be in calmer conditions compared to the OP.

I tried straddling in the past and found that my legs are not long enough for it to work well. Also it would cause all sorts of issues if I had anything stowed under the bungees.
Cowboy rescue on a sea kayak is a bit different since you usually sink the far end of the stern and get across that at a pretty narrow point of the hull. Can't see that working well on a ski due to lack of deck lines.

As a side note, I am not a big fan of a cowboy. It works fine on some kayaks and on others I feel unstable making my way up to the cockpit. And it's a pretty long drawn procedure too, I can get the same result with reenter and roll much easier and for really bad conditions paddle float technique provides a much better platform. But then of course, the best is just to roll up so you don't deal with a flooded cockpit (one thing I am not missing switching to a ski is the instability of a flooded boat).

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1 month 6 days ago #40095 by Arcturus
SpaceSputnik:

I never used the perimeter lines on my sea kayak to do cowboy remount. With my upwind hand clamping the paddle shaft’s midpoint against the rear of the coaming, I would lunge/kick up and over while throwing the to-be-downwind-side leg over a little farther back on the rear deck. The downwind hand held the gunnel, not any deck lines. Because even right in back of the cockpit my sea kayak was narrower than my ski is in the analogous area, I could quickly scoot forward, bent down low—NOT sitting bolt upright. I would then grab the paddle away from the rear of the coaming before plopping into the seat, sealing sprayskirt, etc.

For me, cowboy remount was the second-fastest way to recover from a capsize. The fastest way, absolutely, was always rolling up. Much drier, too.

My ski has the cockpit farther forward than the sea kayak did AND the ski’s widest part is in back of the cockpit. The sea kayak’s narrowest section was rearward of the cockpit. So I lunge up and over more forward on the ski, and I did it more rearward with the sea kayak.

Other kayaks have different proportions. I just did what worked well with mine.

Maybe looking at remounts as the ONLY practical recovery method with the ski will make me take practicing it as seriously as I did rolling. OK.

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