The first step in learning to punt is to find a reasonably quiet place in which to do it. If you try and take off straight from the mooring place on your first try, you’ll not only have less room to manoeuvre, but the captive audience at the punt-hire may proving disconcerting. Try getting a more experienced friend to punt you into midstream, and then have a go. |
Stand at the back of the punt, half-facing to the side (probably the right). Hold the pole vertically against the side of the punt (doesn't matter whether or not it's touching), and let it drop through your hands until it touches the riverbed. Swish or experienced punters throw the pole downwards, but we’ll save that for the advanced class. Push the pole downwards and backwards, gently at first, then more forcefully towards the end of the stroke (because, as your stroke “flattens” and the pole becomes closer to horizontal, less of your energy is going into pushing down into the riverbed, and more into pushing the punt forwards). For extra speed, bend your knees into the downstroke of the pole, so that you can get more push out of each stroke.
Try to push directly backwards, lest you swerve wildly to one side of the river. Let the pole trail behind the punt, acting as a rudder to guide the punt.
Now steer. You'll probably need to steer a little on each stroke. You do this by moving the trailing pole through the water to the side you wish the nose of the punt to point in (want the punt to veer left? Move the pole behind you to the left side). Be gentle: there is so little friction on the water that the punt will be continuing the swing long after you've forgotten about it and gone on to the next stroke.
Finally, retrieve the pole hand over hand, and return to start. If the pole gets stuck, give it a half-twist and a gentle tug to free it.
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