Wear PFD in change out race

I've never done a change out race and I'd like to but I have a fear of the water. I can swim but mentally cannot be in the water without pfd. I haven't tried getting in a boat with a pfd yet and wonder if anyone else has? People tell me it cannot be done but I'd like to know if any paddlers have tried getting in a boat wearing a pfd. thanks.

Submitted by ender on Tue, 07/28/2009 - 7:59am

I've never tried to get in a canoe w/ a PFD on, but I noticed that while wearing one, pulling myself into a whitewater raft is much more difficult than w/out a PFD. You might be able to pull it off w/ one of the streamlined kayaking PFDs.

#1 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 8:56am

You could also try wearing some fins to help getting in the canoe. We had a couple of big guys in our club that needed 'assistance' doing changes so they wore fins.

#2 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 9:02am

This shoud spark some interesting discussion. I have not tried it, but I would have some concerns about wearing a PFD during a changeout race. Though they are a tremendous asset in keeping a person afloat, most people I know find it a bit more cumbersome to actually swim and/or manuver in a PFD. If a changeout race is in open ocean, where swells may be large, I would think a paddler wearing a PFD might create more risk for themselves with an approaching canoe. I have been in cases where the only way a canoe and the paddlers changing out could see each other is as each croup crests at the height of a passing swell. There have been a couple of times I have ended up sprinting (swimming) toward a canoe that coming down the face of a swell after cresting the peak without warning - dodging amas in the process. Wearing a PFD in such circumstances may limit a paddler's ability to get to the canoe or duck under an ama if he/she came up short. Maybe a PFD might work in a flat water changeout race, where the canoe and paddlers are always in sight of each other. Again, I haven't tried it, so these are just a few thoughts that popped into my head upon thinking about it.

#3 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 9:18am

In terms of paddling don't listen to "People tell me it cannot be done" You can do it if you want. Just do it.

A perfect example of that is


#4 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 9:49am

Before putting too much reliance on a PFD-- the first thing to do is to become comfortable in the ocean. Many things can happen and it is important to work through your anxiety- even people wearimg PFD's can panic and make wrong decisions. Take scuba lessons, take a life saving course, take swimming courses, get out in the water. When being surrounded by water is more fun then conflict- then get into open ocean racing and making changes- with or without a PFD.

#5 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 10:52am

poidog is 100% correct. A PFD should be worn as a supplement to your swimming ability, not as a replacement for it.

#6 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 11:22am

You are participating in a water sport.

Many clubs require a swim test...for good reason.

The subtle message here should be to really enjoy yourself you should work on your swimming. In the big picture, paddling is less likely to save your life than the ability to swim.

Ultimately you can give yourself the ability to become proficient at both.

Work on your swimming. You are just going to handicap your team attempting to pull yourself up and over wearing a PFD on and you don't need to do that.
"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publius

#7 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 11:33am

i had a PFD on, when i did my 1st change out race and i had no problems getting in the waka.
PFD was just a club one and i only decided to wear it 30mins before the race.

#8 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 11:51am

Ender said "I can swim but mentally cannot be in the water without pfd."
Personally I would rather see him use the PFD and be comfortable than try and be too MANly and not use one because he might be made fun of. and Hide his weakness. There were sevearal rescues made at Ironchamps this year. According to one rescuer had she not been there the paddler would have drowned.
I think most clubs would be surprised how many of their paddlers are weak swimmers of even unable to swim.

you can also ask the question.. Is ender's club faster with him wearing his PFD or not having him in the boat and getting the next guy.

#9 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 1:15pm

You might want to check out the YMCA for swim lessons or to brush up on your swimming skills. Being many miles offshore is no place to see if your a strong swimmer. No shame in wearing a PDF, but it would be better if you felt comfortable without it.

#10 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 7:09pm

Allways using a PFD cause its compulsory on allmost all races in Europe.....no worries whatsoever to manover myself in waves, on water neither to get into the Waka....more talk than truth that its not possible. Just do it, easy as...!
Ka kite

#11 Tue, 07/28/2009 - 10:39pm

We have to wear them too (Southern Australia) not such a big deal. PFD's have come a long way and most of the time I forget I am even wearing one.

#12 Wed, 07/29/2009 - 1:56am

"most of the time I forget I am even wearing one"

You forget to paddle sometimes too ....hahaha


#13 Wed, 07/29/2009 - 2:32am

Hey Cecil, put your money where your mouth is, took Bondy's V1 out yesterday getting ready for the 404km Murray Marathon. Are you going to join me?

#14 Thu, 07/30/2009 - 11:54am

The Phantom operates alone .... so should you.... enjoy the pain and frustration unaccompanied on you're 18th Murray Marathon.

Cheers Rambo

#15 Thu, 07/30/2009 - 3:14pm

Fly down and film it then Cecil!

#16 Fri, 07/31/2009 - 8:38pm

Clarkie, have you really done that race 18 times?

#17 Sat, 08/01/2009 - 9:23am

if you cant swim well or you are afraid of water your in the wrong sport, try golf.....

#18 Sat, 08/01/2009 - 11:22am

The ability to "swim" insofar as long distance paddling goes, is the ability to swim without a PFD.

Long distance "water change" races are unfortunately not for everyone, and definitely not for someone who cannot swim unassisted.

It is what it is.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Absolutely!

Aka Hemmings and his Project PureLight has shown that the world is truly one without limitations. However, Mr. Hemmings has gone to great lengths to ensure that the special equipment and support personnel in and out of the escort boat and canoe is in place long before the race starts.

A person with a disability is no less of a person than anybody else, whether it is a person with a physical or mental disability. The paddlers from PureLight are some of the most courageous people I have ever seen on the water.

My advice, hook up with Aka and Project PureLight. You really want your first time out to be as positive as possible. Crossing the channel is still a risky proposition for a multitude of reasons whether you paddle with PureLight or any other paddling club. This may serve to be a therapeutic pursuit in trying to overcome your fear of swimming without a PFD, and it may not, only time will tell.

Ultimately, for yourself and for everyone else concerned, safety comes first.

#19 Sat, 08/01/2009 - 4:46pm

Clarkie, have you really done that race 18 times?

Sat, 08/01/2009 - 9:23am"

No Jim, but this year will be my 18th, turn 50 the month before it!
If anyone would like to fly out this year and paddle the YMCA Murray Marathon let me know and we will do our best to set you up!!!!! I mean that in a nice way!@#$

#20 Sun, 08/02/2009 - 12:52am

Listen getting back to PFD's. I was talking to an exec at YMCA about this years Murray Marathon and the word is we may have to wear a PFD during this race to satisfy insurance. Glad I have a couple of bum bags that comply with Australian legislation as I don't fancy paddling with a full lifejacket if it gets up to 45 celcius this year.

#21 Sun, 08/02/2009 - 1:00am

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