Our challenge as a whitewater paddler is to successful complete journeys downstream. Safely navagating our way through various sections of rapids, we use the power of the river, the features on the river and our white water skills to help us safely complete our journey.
How to move downstream
1. Use the flow
In many ways the river is like a liquid conveyor belt that moves every thing on it down stream. As paddlers we use the rivers flow, features and our whitewater skills to help us on our journey and to control the rate at which we proceed downstream.
2. Break it down into sections
In some situations we tackle the whole journey in one go but in the majority of situations we break it down into smaller sections in order to help us manage our journey and safely progress downstream. Using the rivers eddy’s we can break down the river into a maze, a dot to dot like challenge. Linking together routes on smaller sections between eddies we can hop our way down the river from eddy to eddy to eddy.
3. Look for the best paths and routes between eddies
Finding the right routes or paths and using the right speeds and skills is key and comes with experience and time. Breaking the river into this smaller sections and tackling them one at a time makes our journey easier and more manageable.
In most cases we are more stable when we are traveling at or slightly faster than the speed of the current or faster. So as we paddle downstream we drive the boat forward, keeping an active blade in the water, continually assessing the situation and adapting our route to the environment around us and the even fluctuating and changing flow.
Make sure you always leave a back up eddy, If your heading towards or down a tricky section of rapid make sure you have an extra eddy downstream that you can hit if you miss you original one.
Never drop into the unknown. Use the downstream flow to help you on your journey but don’t let it dictate your speed or where you go. Use the eddies and good decisions to help you move safely down the river.