Because racing paddles tend to be light and fragile, the ‘beginners’ method of placing the paddle across the back of the cockpit and sitting on the shaft, is not a viable option. Instead a method, similar to getting into a flatwater boat, can be employed. Place the shoreside hand firmly on the bank and the waterside hand on the foredeck or front of the cockpit to keep the boat steady and held into the bank. Step both feet into the centre of the boat. Now transfer your waterside hand from the front and reach behind to firmly grasp the back of the cockpit rim in the centre of the boat with the heel of the hand on the deck and the fingers gripping the underside of the deck. With one hand still on the bank and the cockpit held firmly it should now be possible to wriggle under the thigh brace fittings and sit down.
It may be possible, for more agile athletes, not to require the ‘stepping-in’ part of the procedure, simply grasping the centre of the back of the cockpit while on the bank.
Getting out is simply a reverse of the getting in procedure. With the bankside hand firmly on the shore and the waterside hand grasping the centre of the back of the cockpit, it should be possible to wriggle out from under the thigh brace fittings and either stand up in the boat or put a foot on the shore.
The easiest method is to place the boat in slack water facing upstream. However an athlete should progress to getting in facing upstream on fast flowing water and also getting in facing downstream in slow and fast flowing water. The main issue to guard against is the boat catching the flow and being pulled away from the bank. Getting in and out is more about preparation and choosing a suitable place to launch or exit the boat, rather than the action of getting in and out.
Having got in, the spraydeck should be attached. Initially Wild Water Racing boats can feel a little wobbly especially when reaching behind to clip in the back of the spraydeck, but with practice becomes much easier. Practice in slack water first, to get used to it. Attaching the spraydeck in faster flowing water can be quite tricky as you can easily get separated from your paddle whilst you’re hands are on your spraydeck. You can get someone to hold the boat to stop it drifting, alternatively, you can hold the middle of your paddle shaft under your chin so that the paddle stays with you! Sometimes the eddies used for launching can surge up and down which makes balancing the boat while clipping in the spraydeck very tricky. Sometimes a better option is to sit in the flow away from the bank where the water is not surging. Hold the paddle under your chin and attach the spraydeck. This requires confidence and practice but when achieved is quick and efficient.