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Now that we are getting more comfortable with our sweet new boat it is time to up the ante. In my world no river run is complete with out some sweet boofs, grinds, and rock spins. The first thing you will need to work on is adapting your technique to the speed of the UL and how much rock you can climb up with it! First and foremost your timing on the golden stroke is key. Approach your target rock nice and easy at half speed, and once you have it lined up and are a boat length away turn on the gas. The speed of the UL will allow you to send it, even with that short of an acceleration period. Make sure that you really sweep the bow up high on the rock and really hang on that stroke for a long time. You need to give the full length of the UL time to get up and on the rock so you can fully separate from the water for maximum boofing performance. The most common mistake when boofing is to lean back in order to try to pull your bow up and out of the water. Do not do this! It does not matter if you are in a regular creek boat or your UL. If you lean back while trying to boof your bow will drop and you will botch your boof. The only difference is that if you lean back in the UL the extra length will only send you into the burning man position faster than a short creek boat. Combat this by focusing on lifting the bow by pulling up on your knees and rolling the bottom of the hull to match the surface of the rock. Once you get all these small details worked out you will be sending your boofs bigger than ever before.
Grinds are another fun way to play with rocks. A grind consists of putting roughly half your boat up and out of the water, holding your edge, and allowing the water to push on the stern and continue to slide you down the rock. Once again you need to start playing with your approach speed, the angle you slide the bow on the rock, and how long you hang on your paddle. As I started to play with grinding my UL I found myself sliding up and over rocks that I could only get 1/3 of the way up on with my regular creek boat. Once you get the feel for how much you slide on the rocks you can really start to have a blast playing in a totally new way on the river. I managed to get up and on some rocks that were a solid 3.5 ft. out of the water, and I managed to dry dock myself all the way up on shore by accident as well.
Rock spins are a super fun way to spice up any line. The longer length of the UL will make it more important to ensure you perch up high on a rock so that the ends will not get slowed down by dragging in the water. If you can get these dialed in the UL you will feel like a hero in a short creek boat or a play boat. Focus on trying to get the center of the hull mid thigh to be the point of rotation for a rock spin. Vary your approach speed until you get it just right and try to find rocks that have a slight slope off the high point so that you will be spinning on a smaller piece of rock. Once you get to that point wind up your body, look in the direction of the spin, and reach to the water and put in a big reverses sweep. Pull with your core and hold that stroke as long as possible. As soon as you release it rewind your body and enjoy the ride.
The next installment in our long boat series will be play focused. I hope you like to ender!

Later ; Colin
Team JK