By Eric Jackson
How to Squirt and Splat an Antix
The new Jackson Kayak Antix has hit a nerve among kayakers world-wide. Its sporty river running/creeking character, light weight, fun surfing, and ability to get vertical on the stern makes it a unique kayak in today’s world of whitewater kayaks. Many of the kayakers trying or buying an Antix today are specifically focused on squirting and splatting rocks on their local creeks or rivers. Their are some techniques that need to be learned to really be effective at squirting and splatting. Here are the main ones:
Squirting a boat with a longer stern is much different from squirting a short boat like a Rock Star or Fun. The increased surface area of the stern gives it more wing area for “flying” it underwater, but the the extra length gives it more drag. A Rock Star or Fun is best to squirt by doing a rapid, impulse stroke that gets it vertical instantly, pushing the volume under, but less about flying it under. The Antix will reject you if you go for an impulse stroke as the drag of that long of a stern will be too high and you’ll only get 1/2 way to vertical before stopping. Drag increases exponentially, twice as fast, 4 times the drag. So flying the stern under you, with a long, slower stroke, expecting to take at least twice as long to get vertical as a play boat is the right technique.
Specifics for flatwater.
- Boat position– paddle forwards to get speed and turn the boat to 90 degrees
- Stroke: Reach ALL of the way back, straight back arm to begin.
- Edge: Drop about 30-45 degrees of edge and hold it steady until you are nearly out of stroke and then flatten the edge out to allow the boat to rotate easily and not fall back down.
- Body: Begin by leaning back, but then use your knees to lift the bow and hold your body still as you begin the stroke. Keep your weight over the boat, don’t lean to the side.
Stern Stall: The Antix does a very nice stern stall, so once you can get vertical, practice balancing and stopping the momentum by putting your other blade in the water over your head, keeping both blades in the water and balancing. It is the same as in a playboat.
- If you have to switch from your squirt stroke, to a forward sweep on the other side to prevent yourself from falling down (bracing), you are not keeping your weight over the boat.
- Dropping too much edge at the beginning- you will feel too much resistance, and the stern will reject you and you’ll fall back down quickly.
- Not reaching far enough behind you- you will feel your stroke has no power and you can’t rotate the boat far enough.
- Boat postion: paddle up to an eddy line at 45 degrees, allow the boat to cross the line and prepare your squirt stroke (same as flatwater). As soon as your boat is 90 degrees to the eddyline, begin your squirt stroke.
- Stroke: same as flatwater, but be ready for a second one. After you squirt to vertical, feather your paddle back behind you and do another one, keeping it in the water at all times and using it to rotate the boat in the vertical plane.
- Edge: Same as flatwater, start with 30-45 degrees and then flatten out after you are up.
- Check out this video by Stephen Wright giving an overhead view of the Antix squirting, waterfalls, rapids, etc.!
There are many ways to get vertical against rocks.
Safety: Never splat a rock you are not 100% sure is safe, meaning, it isn’t undercut and doesn’t have any underwater trees on it.
You can splat using forward strokes, squirt strokes, forwards sweeps, or even just paddling straight onto a rock and leaning back… The rock/current determines what is the best way to get yourself planted on it and balanced.
A few tips for reading the water:
- The faster the water hits the rock, the easier to get pushed up on it. A slow, or zero current rock is more like a flatwater squirt and stern stall, while a heavier current rock is much easier to get pushed up against.
- Angled, off vertical rocks are also easier as the rock can help lift your bow up and you can slide the bow up, versus getting vertical before you hit the rock.
- Current moving sideways against the rock either hurts or helps you depending on which direction you try to splat from. Learning to use the water will make your life easier.
Squirt Stroke technique:
Depending on how good you are at squirting in flatwater, you will have success using this technique for splatting. If you are not able to squirt to vertical in flatwater, you’ll need a slanted rock and a good seam in front of it.
- get sideways to the rock and as far from the rock as you can reach with your paddle.
- Do a full squirt stroke with the goal of having your bow hit the rock at the same time as it is pointed straight to the rock.
- If there is sideways current on the rock- always point downstream, so that when your bow hits the rock, the current pushes your stern under you.
- Once you are against the rock and use forward sweeps, or reverse sweeps to hold the boat from falling off either side.
Forward Sweep Technique:
If you have a slanted rock and good current hitting it, or you are really good at getting vertical, this technique is a great way to get against the rock quickly and essentially “run up” the rock.
Everything is the same as the squirt technique, except you substitute the forward sweep to get vertical. Use a stern draw at the end of the forward sweep as a final stroke to hold the boat vertical. Again- point the bow downstream if there is side current on the rock.
Paddling Straight up a Rock:
some rocks are slanted enough at some point to simply lean back and run right up it. Lots of current hitting the rock and enough slant that you don’t peton and you will find this the easiest learning technique.
There are other ways to splat as well:
Stern stall and drift into the rocks.
Doing combo moves from one rock to another. (see this “Urban Kayak” video in my Rock Star where I use bridge pilings and go from one to another- it would have been awesome in the Antix!)
Splatting to past vertical and pirouette off the rock and continue on.
splat to pirouette to splat on the same rock.
The list goes on. Give it a try in an Antix and see what the rage is about!