Select Page

are those that are angled
from the shore out towards the middle of the river and downstream.
They are like little (or big) deflectors that work hard at
keeping you away from shore and try to steer you right down
the middle of the river. When you want to get to an eddy or
to shore, you need to know how to deal with these features.
Here’s what you do:

Here are some techniques
for dealing with reactionary waves and holes to overcome their
desire to hold you away from shore.

  1. The Direct Hit- A
    Simple and Effective Technique to Master First- Aim your
    boat directly at the wave or hole for a perpendicular
    hit when you want to get over and past them. If the wave
    was to come off the shore at a 45 degree angle, then you
    hit it angled downstream and towards the shore with a
    45 degree angle. If you aim the bow downstream with any
    more angle the wave or hole will deflect the bow downstream
    and send you packing on down the river.
  2. The Boof- Getting on top of a Reactionary or Diagonal
    Hole by boofing it- A more advanced way to get past the
    hole or wave without worrying about getting perpendicular.
    Since you may just want to get over the hole or wave and
    then continue downstream on the other side of it you will
    want to learn to get over the hole or wave “dry”
    if possible.

    • The key to boofing
      a diagonal hole is to learn which edge must be up when
      you hit the hole so you don’t dig an edge in and
      get stuffed back into the pit and railroaded out into
      the middle of the river. Most people are tempted to
      lean into the hole and brace as if they were surfing
      it. When boofing a hole, think of the hole as an eddy
      instead. This way you are just jumping past the pit
      of the hole quickly and getting your boat on top of
      the foam pile. When you hit the foam pile you lean into
      your turn and pull on the draw stroke just like you
      were catching an eddy. (see Strokes and Concepts for
      detailed description) The stroke will be in between
      your boat and the pit of the hole, not on the outside
      of the boat where our brace would go.
    • How to keep
      the boat “Dry”- Like all boofs, the key
      is the last stroke timing. The last stroke must lift
      your bow onto the foam pile and still be pulling as
      your butt climbs on the foam pile too. Once your butt
      is on the foam you are likely clear and the momentum
      you have should do the rest. Certainly, all holes are
      different. Some are too big to boof onto and you just
      have to punch into them.

      • The
        photo here is the move at Rapid Number 9 called
        “The Diagonal.” It is a classic. If
        you don’t get on the diagonal high enough
        you get railroaded to the right into that big pit
        looking thing which is a 12 deep, scary, high volume,
        pourover that could rip you to pieces. On the other
        side of the diagonal is a lane about 8 feet wide
        that looks like a bowling alley. If you were to
        go over the diagonal and take a stroke or two too
        far you would go into a pit of a hole that isn’t
        a pourover, but instead it is the kind that the
        foam pile is 12 feet high and super retentive, while
        the one corner is backed up by the wall and the
        other corner has a wrap around feeder wave that
        would not want to let you out, and below is a shelf
        of a rock that the water hits in a way that it would
        rake you over or just slam you in. OK, so you get
        the picture. The move is simply, boof onto the diagonal,
        then make a quick turn downstream and stay in your
        lane. Just stay out of the bumpers and you live
        to see the bottom hole. This move is what inspired
        me to write this particular technique article. This
        particular diagonal is so spectacular that it is
        the number one move of the Zambezi for a number
        of reasons. The view coming in is incredible. There
        you are lining up out in the middle of the river
        in smooth calm water floating into a horizon line
        looking for the Diagonal. Then you see it, but it
        is 50 feet long, so you have to pick the place to
        get on it that looks the most predictable. In this
        case we looked for the smallest place. Then you
        do a broad overview of the move and see the big
        hole on the left, the big hole on the right, and
        the end of the alley which is a mess of exploding
        water. Then you refocus on your one key move. Angle
        perpendicular to the diagonal; how much speed do
        I need? Two hard strokes, get a little spin momentum
        to the right before hitting, lift the bow on top,
        pull in one more stroke to get on the flat section,
        turn downstream quick and get to the end of the
        alley without drifting either way. Then slam, not
        unlike the feeling a bowling ball must have when
        it hits the pins. It takes a second to refocus and
        see where you are at, then the bottom hole awaits.
        What is it? Another diagonal, this time you go under
        it instead of over it.
      • It started out
        as a 10 foot exploding hole and as the water rose,
        it became a 15 foot exploding hole. It tries to surf
        you into the right bank who is littered with rocks
        that jut out into the fast current. It has broken
        necks, compressed vertebrae, knocked people out, broken
        arms, etc. So the key here is to… Very good-
        Hit it perpendicular as far from the shore as possible.
        The technique for going under is to tuck hard into
        your boat to prevent the foam pile from stopping you
        before you get your entire boat and body deep into
        the hole where it will spit you out the bottom. It
        doesn’t always have predictable results though.
        Ask Clay (pictured here) who broke his paddle on one
        run here and his nose on the next.

  3. Using a diagonal
    to get to the middle of the river- Sometimes you just
    want to stay in the middle of the river. A perfect example
    of a rapid that the diagonals keep you online is Normans
    on the Ottawa River. It is just a long series of reactionary
    waves into a boily pool at the bottom. Just relax and
    brace into the waves as they come at you and you will
    get pinballed down the rapid from wave to wave, but always
    stay right in the middle. No maneuvering needed.