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Whitewater kayaking-How to Navigate River Rapids

Whitewater kayaking-How to Navigate River Rapids

Whitewater kayaking-How to Navigate River Rapids

Regardless of what river you’re on, successfully navigating river rapids is all about picking a good line and sticking to it. Of course, this is easier said than done on Class IV+ rivers, but the navigation concepts you learn in more moderate terrain will serve you well in the long run as you venture into more extensive water.

Here are 4 top tips for navigating river rapids:

1. Follow the Downstream V

Unless you’re on the river for a bit of playboating, river running generally requires that you follow the downstream V as much as possible. 

Note that it can be challenging to spot the downstream V in very turbulent water. This is where scouting from your kayak or even scouting from shore can come in handy. In Class III and above terrain, it can be hard to find this downstream V when you’re already moving downriver very quickly. Don’t be afraid to stop and scout when necessary.

2. Consider Your Kayak’s Angle

As a general rule, it’s best to take waves bow-on rather than from the side. This is because taking a wave from the side of your kayak can cause the boat to capsize. 

In very turbulent water, avoiding all side impacts with waves might be impossible. But in areas with isolated waves or features that are otherwise unavoidable, it’s best to face these challenges head-on.

Additionally, kayak angle also comes into play when you need to navigate around a series of obstacles. In these situations, the angle of your boat relative to the current direction or fall line is critical.

This is particularly vital to pay attention to when the downstream V wants to push you into a hazard, like a rock. When this happens, you may need to angle your boat so that your bow doesn’t directly lead down the current. 


3. Take it Slow

There’s an old adage that says that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. In whitewater paddling, these words are sage advice.

While whitewater involves paddling down fast-moving water, the speed of your kayak relative to the speed of the current actually shouldn’t be very fast. That’s because increased speeds on the water can make it very difficult for you to navigate around an obstacle.

Instead, try to approach rapids with a relatively low speed. Doing so makes it easier for you to navigate your kayak in relation to the current. Otherwise, you’ll get tossed around by the rapid and have little opportunity to steer as you flow downstream.

There are some instances where you need to build up a bit of speed on the river, but navigating through small to medium-sized obstacles generally isn’t one of them. So, go slow to go fast while on the river.

4. Master the Boof

The boof stroke is a critical skill for any aspiring whitewater paddler. Put simply, boofing is the act of preventing your kayak’s bow from getting pushed underwater. Boofing is particularly important over steep drops and waterfalls, but it’s also relevant when navigating other large obstacles.

Note that boofing can be very dangerous on large rapids and drops when done incorrectly. Therefore, be sure to practice this technique under the guidance of a skilled paddler before trying it on your own. 

With that in mind, the idea with the boof stroke is that it’s a powerful stroke often done at the top of a rapid. It’s designed to keep your bow from washing downstream, partially by changing the angle of attack of your kayak. 

By doing a boof stroke on the downstream side of your kayak at the very top of a rapid, you can maintain your boat angle and avoid getting swamped. But again, this is an advanced skill that you can work up to as you gain more experience navigating rivers.

Successfully kayaking in rapids, whic is a difficult and exciting thing for kayakers, whitewater is a cool adventure, but in kayaking rapids, the most imporatant is to ensure the security, so waterproof walkie talkie is the best choice,when you encounter the danger,you can ask help for your partner.


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