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The Tallulah River in North Georgia is characterized by its unique granite cliffs and spectacular scenery. The Tallulah’s smooth bedrock offers great quality rapids with very fast and smooth slides. The staple rapid of the river is Oceana: a large two-tier slide with a massive explosion of water called “the Thing” forming as the flow hits the far left portion of the second tier. The classic line is charging far left to avoid the thing, sliding within feet of the chaotic explosion then squaring up for the hole at the bottom of the slide.

Thanks to the abundant number of paddlers that visit the Tallulah during the scheduled releases, there have been plenty of creative lines down Oceana. A fun line that you may have seen before entails entering in the middle of the slide while maintaining downstream angle in order to take a huge airborne skip over the second tier. Although paddlers have been doing this skip for years, the line really hit the spotlight when Dane Jackson and Pat Keller were recorded throwing massive kickflips while skipping over the pile on the second tier ( I’m not sure about the origin of this trick at this rapid, but these viral videos certainly brought much attention to the rapid and kickflip line. Kickflip or no kickflip, doing this skip at Oceana is a total blast!

Here’s a quick “how to” for the Oceana Skip:

1) Line up just barely left of center above the slide. I like to use the bush in the middle of the slide as a halfway marker by trying to go just over the right side of the bush. But, keep in mind these bushes may be long gone or new ones may grow back differently. Lining up the move is by far the trickiest part! It is difficult to describe rapids through text, but here are a few key markers I use when lining up the move:
– Enter over the shallow section in the center/left portion of the slide roughly 8 feet to the left of a
small fan feature in the center of the slide at the very top.
– Go over the right edge of both bushes in the middle of the slide (the second bush is roughly 20 feet below the first)
– Stay to the right of the long dried out portion of the slide, which is evident at the low flow releases.

2) Maintain downstream angle (i.e., don’t let your bow swing to the left) and try to square up to hit the pile created at the top of second tier at a perfect perpendicular angle. This foam pile is what you will using to ramp off of when initiating your skip. Personally, I almost feel that I air on the side of favoring right angle as opposed to left angle to ensure my bow doesn’t swing left.

3) Before coming in contact with the pile at the second tier, maintain a slight forward lean to keep your weight over the front of your boat. Then, throw your weight back to lift up the bow of your kayak right at the moment of contact with the pile at the top of the second tier.

4) If you hit the hole with the correct angle and throw your weight back properly, your bow should begin to lift up as you skip off of the foam pile. To even out your kayak in the air, distribute your weight back over the center boat. For a smoother landing on the bottom of the slide, you can transition your weight back forward to slightly stomp the bow down. This will allow you to land at a more similar angle as the slide rather than stern tapping.

5) Be sure to let out a “caw caw” as you majestically fly over the pile of the second tier.

5) If you’re feeling frisky, you can always try throwing a kickflip as you skip over the pile. But, be careful because you’ll be landing head first on rocks if you don’t get all the way around (trust me… I know from experience).

6) Rejoice at the bottom of the rapid after your brief moment of defying gravity!

Here is a video of me throwing a small kickflip during an Oceana skip (video by Josh Artzen). It pales in comparison to the downriver freestyle ninjas Dane Jackson and Pat Keller, but I was glad to land flat on the rocks below rather than on my head!