As beginners, many of us were taught (and rightfully so) to run rapids straight, keeping downstream speed up and to hit every feature by “T-ing” up to it. In these formative stages, it is really all you can do, as there is so much going on that simply staying upright, and getting to the next calm spot is really all our minds are trying to focus on. However, as we progress we need to start finding ways to create ‘time’ for ourselves in the middle of all the chaos that is a whitewater rapid.
In this video, we aim to take basic skills such as s-turns and eddy turns and help you use them as tools to slow your downstream momentum, (by generating cross current speed and using eddies and other features) and in turn, to give you better position control and more ‘time’ to plan your descent.
Have you ever wondered why really good Class V boaters seem to be in so much control when running seemingly out of control whitewater? Often it is because they have the ability and forward thinking to slow themselves down (often subtly), to help set up for the next move. At Aquabatics we refer to it as ‘getting off the freight train’
This freight train is simply the current, it is pushing you downstream no matter which way your boat is pointing. By tagging eddies, waves and slower currents, we can (often briefly) get of the freight train, get a second to look around and plan, then carry on. To do this successfully and in control, we need cross current speed to ensure we aren’t getting hung up on eddylines or stopped in features we are trying to avoid.
There are certainly times you want to have, and create more, downstream speed (think punching a big hole or wave), though if we are trying to avoid features we often want to ‘get of the freight train’ to make maneuvering around things seem more controlled.
The biggest challenge for beginners and intermediates is the uncomfortable feeling of ‘being sideways’ to features they would normally want to punch through. A perfectly natural assessment. However, there is a big difference between floating sideways into a hole and accelerating across current above it.
Check out the video as this is a very visual topic. We hope this is helpful and if you have any questions, comments or would be interested in kayak instruction or paddling info on the beautiful Canadian Rockies, we would be stoked to hear from you.
Thanks, from the Aquabatics Calgary Team