The Boof, pt. 3.5 – The Straight and Fader Boofs

August 19, 2008

We are continuing from previous posts on boofing technique, adding the basic straight boof and the stylin’ fader boof.  With the addition of these two, your boofing arsenal should be nearly complete.  The most important thing to remember about boofing is that each location requires some adjustment to these basic techniques.  Just remember, keep your weight centered over your boat.  Go ahead and check out the video and discussion below.

The Straight Boof:

 The Approach: So you want to approach the lip of the drop as straight on as possible.  You may not necessarily always be perpendicular, but close enough.  The main thing is to have your momentum moving straight away from the drop when landing so you make it to where you want to go.  Speed is good, just don’t get so much you miss your stroke timing.  A well timed boof stroke will help you out much more than speed.   


The Stroke:  A vertical paddle stroke is crucial.  This will help direct all your momentum forward instead of turning your boat off the lip.  Plant your paddle blade on the lip of the drop and be sure to pull through.  Your boof stroke will be longer than a typical paddle stroke, so be sure to keep pulling past your hips.  Because it’s such a long stroke, you want to make sure to be pulling your paddle straight so that you don’t turn at the last minute.



The Body:  A combination of slight edging and a vertical paddle will help you accelerate straight off of the drop without danger of spinning out.  The less water on the lip, the more important is to focus on keeping your boat flat and driving straight.  Often, if the lip is shallow the boat will catch on rock and can easily rotate, landing you sideways in a nasty pourover or on rock.


The Fader Boof:

The Approach: The Fader is probably the most “technical” of the boofs we’ve talked about so far.  You want to approach the drop with angle, sometimes almost parallel to the lip.  Once at the lip, be sure to be looking where you want to land, which should be off to one side of your bow.  You can think of it kind of like hitting a berm on a bike; before entering the berm you want to be looking straight into it, but once you are in it you want to be looking at your exit point.  


The Stroke: Think of your paddle as the pivot point of your boof.  You’re stroke should start off as a bow draw to pull your boat around the pivot point, and end with a strong pull.  Keep your paddle vertical to get the most effective pivot, a sweep stroke or low paddle won’t help you out at all.  Once you’ve drawn your bow around to the desired angle, you will close your paddle blade and pull straight through like a normal boof stroke.  For the last time, keep that paddle vertical!  

The Body:  Don’t be afraid to lean out over your stroke and really pull yourself around.  For the fader to be effective, you have to be aggressive and lean into it.  Be sure to be looking at where you want to land.  As you are finishing your stroke, flatten the boat back out and land with the boat flat.  This edge transition happens in the last part of your stroke, as you are pulling the paddle past your hips.  




Making peace with rocks

May 13, 2008

Shane learning to deal.

Shane learning to deal.

Rarely is there a line on your favorite creek which doesn’t incorporate at least one ill placed rock. Dealing with rocks and not letting them affect your plan is an important skill to learn and become comfortable with. Here are a few shots from Frankenstein, a classic rock jumble which has caused millions of bad lines because of some ill placed rocks. Shane takes a moment to explain the importance of carrying your momentum up and over the rock and keeping your eye on the prize while Robin Betz demonstrates near perfect form.


Once you get comfortable getting over rocks without them throwing you off line, feel free to start using them to spice things up a little. Here’s international superstar Yonton Mehler demonstrating a beautiful rock spin.

One important aspect to keep in mind is to keep your hips loose and always lean into rocks if you get pushed sideways against them. Frankenstein has some classic pin spots and the key to success in a rapid like this is to keep moving and never give the water a chance to load up on your boat when there’s a rock blocking your escape on the other side.

Notice Robin’s aggressive forward posture.

Shane chimed in with a few more thoughts on dealing with rocks.

The biggest thing in learning to deal with rocks is actually knowing what is going to happen when you and your boat interact with rocks. The only way you are going to learn is to mess around with them. Thats why boofing, sliding, spinning, and glancing off of lots of rocks on your normal run is going to make you a better paddler. Its that repetition of banging around in the rocks thats going to teach you how to deal with them.

Mefford holding the control stroke while meeting the rock

Mefford is using a correction stroke here to account for the deflection the rock is delivering.

In a general sense I think of rocks as being another river feature like a wave, or a hole. The rock is going to try to deflect you just like a pillow, or diagonal wave. So often times I deal with the rock in a similar fashion to how I deal with other river features. The only difference is you aren’t going to be able to plow through the rock like you may a wave. That rock is going to deflect you some unless you can get up and over it but that is a deflection also isn’t it. When I approach a wave that I think is going to deflect me I keep a correction stroke at the ready to deal with that. The same is true of a rock. If you are going to glance off the rock have a correction stroke ready to deal with that and know its going to happen. In fact I use a stroke that is going to take me to the rock, over the rock, and beyond in the direction I want to go. That way I am in control of my direction and interaction with the rock the entire time. Its crucial with any river feature that you are working with to keep your paddle working for you through out the action between you and the feature.

Continuing to use a control stroke past the rock

Here he is continuing his stroke well past the rock so he stays in control.

The water that is moving over and around the rock is also important. The more water you have going over the rock the easier it is going to be to get over it. Often times the spot where you use the rock is the near the highest point where the water meets the rock, because you get the lift of the rock along with the slickness of the water. What the water is doing just at the rock is also important. Is there a strong pillow at the rock that might deflect you? Is there a curler coming off the rock? Is the water disappearing under the rock, ahhhh?

The rocks themselves and their consistency will affect your move. Are you paddling on pristine smooth granite, or manky roadside scrapple. The quality of the rock is going to also influence how you will move over and around the rocks. Pretty much if its manky I try my hardest not to touch it because its going to stop you cold. Its also one of the reasons that the Smoky Mountains, the Sierras, and other smooth rock rivers are so awesome to paddle.

Yonton using the slope of the rock

Yonton dealing with the slope in the rock.

The rocks shapes, and angles are also hugely important. When you are working with the rocks you have to take into account the shapes and how you are going to use them. Is it sloping the direction you want to go? Is it going to slow you down? Is it going to give you a kick? Will you be able to release easily from the rock and continue downstream? Its a lot to take in but the more you take notice of the rocks you are working with the more precise you will be.

So like I said at the beginning of this little spew, get out there and mess with rocks. Repetition is the best way to learn about how to work with them.

Just a few more thoughts.


P.S. If you have any ideas or thoughts about this subject leave a comment. I would like to work with folks and talk about instruction concepts.

Creeking Instructional Overview

May 13, 2008

The Gorilla at the heart of The Green River Narrows

When we decided to do an instructional piece on creeking the location for the project was an easy pick. The Green River located near Saluda, North Carolina is a hotbed for creek boat design, creeking technique and creeking talent. With over 20 years of experience on class 5 creeks and just as many years as an instructor Green River Local and Liquid Logic boat designer Shane Benedict will be our point man. He will be assisted by a group of local paddlers including, Mefford Williams, Al Gregory, Pat Keller, Robin Betz and John Grace who combined have ran The Green over 2000 times!

In order to organize the information gathered during this project we have decided to relate one specific skill to each rapid on The Green River. To illustrate the techniques covered more clearly we will using photography both moving and still to clarify each explanation.