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Teaching kayaking since 2009, I’ve learned all sorts of different acronyms to remember when ferrying from Point A to Point B across river currents, entering a river eddy with an eddy turn, and exiting a river eddy with a peel out. These are essential maneuvers for all river kayakers and I hope you find this to be a helpful resource along with many well written books featuring sections about these skills. Maybe you have a favorite that’s stayed with you over the years. I reflected on these memory aids and decided to come up with my own: L-E-A-V-E: (L) Look, (E) Entrance/Exit, (A) Angle, (V) Velocity, (E) Edging.

(L) Look:
It’s important to look where you want to go when performing a ferry, eddy turn, or peel out. For a ferry, you move laterally from eddy to eddy. For an eddy turn, you enter (“catch”) an eddy across an eddy line from the river current. For a peel out, you exit an eddy across an eddy line into the river current. You both Look to identify your route from Point A to Point B as well as staying Looking at that destination once in motion to arrive smoothly. For a ferry or eddy turn, you maintain vision with the eddy you’re paddling into, which should be high up and deep in the eddy. For a peel out, you shift your vision downstream once across the eddy line into the current.

(E) Entrance / Exit
After identifying where you want to go and the route to get there, you next assess your entrance/exit point. Often this entrance/exit point is a high point in the eddy with a crisp eddy line with minimal obstructions that could disrupt your plan.

(A) Angle
Your kayak will start to turn when you cross over an eddy line because one end is being pushed by the river current and the opposite end is pushed in the opposite direction by the eddy. Once you’ve crossed the eddy line and into the current or eddy, you be balancing the river current and your own paddling strokes. When entering the current from an eddy, a 30-45 degree angle toward your destination is recommended (adjust based on conditions). For a ferry, this angle is maintained whereas with a peel out this angle shifts downstream or toward your next destination. An effective and efficient stern draw or sweep stroke are recommended paddling strokes for maintaining your angle during a ferry or peel out when engaging with these forces. If you’re leaving an eddy onto a surf wave, try a side draw stroke to laterally move across the eddy line and onto the surf wave.

(V) Velocity
Velocity is the speed in combination with the direction of your kayak, which builds on the Angle set above. You build up a lot of velocity to cross the eddy line and into the current or eddy. Having a lot of velocity across the eddy line will reduce the time spent with opposing and unstable forces turning your kayak. When preparing for a ferry or peel out, build up as much velocity as you can while in the eddy as it’s easier to accelerate without opposing river current. When preparing for an eddy turn, leverage the river current in combination with “pulling” and turning strokes such as forward strokes, sweep strokes, and stern draws to cross the eddy line at a 45 degree angle. During an eddy turn, try combining a sweep stroke on the side of the river current followed by a bow draw or stern draw on the eddy side. Velocity needed will be vary based on the strength of river current, eddy lines, and your personal paddling.

(E) Edging
Lastly, once you’re entering the current or eddy it’s important to be mindful of your edging to be initiated once you have crossed the eddy line when performing a ferry, eddy turn, or peel out. Try not to edge too soon, as that will cause you to miss the eddy or spin on the eddy line. When performing a ferry or peel out, the upstream edge of the kayak as lifted and maintained throughout the duration of the maneuver. That edging flattens during a peel out once you’re pointed downstream or adjusted for your next maneuver. When performing an eddy turn and after crossing the eddy line, I drop my edge on the same side I’m taking a bow draw or stern draw. When thinking about edging for peel outs and eddy turns, practice paddling a circle around an eddy line while both dropping your edge and maintaining vision TOWARD the center of the circle.

I hope you found this teaching acronym helpful for your personal paddling or teaching river paddlers in your community.