Forspaddling i Stockholm – Whitewater kayaking in Stockholm
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Boofing

If there’s one maneuver that will open up new doors for a beginning creeker, it’s the boof. Making a boof can be the difference between a clean line and the beginning of a very bad time, and the truly amazing thing is that it’s such a simple maneuver.

It’s not, however, without it’s risks. If you boof something tall, landing flat can cause you problems, especially if your hull is flat or your boat is long… or if you hit a rock.

A boof is just a wheelie done in a boat- you reach forward for a powerful stroke, and as your stroke passes your hips, you thrust your hips forward and then while still stroking with the paddle, sit up and lift your bow. Truly, a simple maneuver- but it can be applied to a variety of circumstances- one can boof straight off a ledge, boof a hole or seam, boof against a rock, over an elevated eddyline, at the bottom of a slide in order to avoid submerging in the hole that’s there, off the edge of a waterfall in order to control your rate of pitch off of it… really, there’s a boof for most situations, but when you get down to it, there are basically two broad categories- ones done when in contact with a feature, and ones done without. For the purpose of discussion, we can refer to the former as ’Rock Boofs’ and the latter as ’Straight On’ boofs, even though the straight on variety may involve turning the boat in the process.

The whole point to boofing is to give you more options than just paddling along where the current is going- sometimes the current is going down into the guts of a hole that you want to avoid, or maybe the current is folding under another mass of water that you want to be on top of- but to be perfectly candid, this is not a ’new’ trick- it’s actually a logical extension of the eddy turn.

What? The eddy turn? Yes, boofing is almost the exact same thing as getting across an eddyline- so let’s break down, for discussion’s sake, the components of an eddy turn:

Speed- you approach your downstream interface, with speed. If you’re not going faster than the water you’re in, unexpected things will happen.
Angle- you initiate a bit of veer going into your target, using either a pure forward stroke or a sweep-type stroke on the outside of the turn. Once the turn is initiated, you control your rate of turn from the inside of the turn, using edging and a control stroke like a draw or a rudder. If your veer isn’t more powerful than the opposing forces, you’ll end up somewhere else.
Lean- You lean into the turn as your boat enters water that is moving in a different direction. If you don’t lean appropriately, you’ll need to either brace or roll.
Of course, the major difference between boofing and doing eddy turns is that the former involves a bit of verticality, and in most cases lunging your hips is not an option, it’s mandatory. In order to talk about boofing, we need to add two more components:

Pitch control- When boofing off of a feature like a pourover, we need to have an idea about how we want to land this thing- flat, pitching forwards, pitching back, etc. When you drive your boat off a ledge or over a drop, there’s a moment where your bow is hanging out over nothing while your stern is floating on water- and this will cause your boat to pitch forward… that is, unless you do something about it.
Launch- Before boofing was called boofing, it was called ’ski jumping’, probably because it worked best if you sort of ’hopped’ your weight up and forward off the launch, to unweight the bow during the moment of pitch. You finish the boof by sitting aggressively forward and up- raising your bow, and preparing you for a landing in a forward position.
Practical Considerations:

The boof is all about timing. If your boof stroke comes too soon, you’ll go over the edge with your bow going down instead of up or staying even, and you might as well not have boofed. If it comes too late, usually you’re stroking in air and on your way to a bad time. Generally, the place to do your boof stroke is to reach forward, past the horizon line, and pull against the water that’s moving over the ledge, or else to pull against the rock itself that’s forming the pourover.

Speed is vital. The water falls over the edge in a parabolic arc, according to it’s velocity at the lip, among other things. If you are not going faster than the water at your moment of separation, your trajectory will intersect with that of the falling slab of water (you won’t float against falling water, trust me) and you’ll end up melting it instead of boofing it.

Your last stroke will turn you. Make sure you pick the direction you want to go, and plan that last stroke to be on the side opposite the direction you want to go. You always need to know which side your last stroke will be on.

The boof is not just a stroke- you have to do some stuff with your body as well. It begins with the stroke, preferably a very big one that gives you the opportunity to shoot your hips forward. Shooting your hips shortens that magical moment on the edge where one end of your boat is falling and the other isn’t. Merely shooting your hips won’t finish it- before the end of your stroke, you need to sit aggressively forward and up- use your stomach muscles to get forward, and spring upwards while your power blade is still loaded- this will raise your bow as you finish your stroke. The spring is the thing- without sitting forwards at the end of your stroke, all you did was get over the edge faster.

Landing

Flat landings can be tough on your back- and on your face, if you’re not careful. More than one paddler has softened his nose on the deck of his boat after landing a boof- the author included. When you boof, you generally land pretty close to flat, and depending on the height of the drop, the aeration of the water, and the size and shape of your boat, this can present problems. Long boats and boats with flat hulls will tend to smack the pool harder than shorter/rounder boats- so when you’re coming in flat or near flat from height, it will pay in spades to be able to get into crash position in a hurry.

Crash position is where you are forward over your front deck, PFD against your cockpit, one arm against your front deck, and your head, turned to one side, in contact with that arm. When you’re in crash position, you’re not in danger of having your head come whipping down into the cockpit, or of straining your back muscles while fighting the deceleration forces that are trying to whip your head down into your cockpit rim. You’re also not in danger of compressing your spine, as you would be if you were caught sitting upright. Be aware that even if you’re coming in at an off-flat angle, it’s probable that your bow will deflect off of the pool- most boats are rockered and tend to porpoise violently toward the surface if you’re coming in at speed. Use the crash position to minimize danger to yourself, and also to blunt the effects of a possible bow deflection.

Ideally, the first thing you want to hit the water with is your paddle, reaching for that next stroke. This will give you an active paddle blade in the water, and as long as you have an active blade, you’ve got some degree of control. Fortunately, the launch move, where you sat aggressively forward, prepares you for this- simply reach forward with the paddle blade you didn’t use for your boof stroke, and complete your landing with a forward stroke to get yourself clear of the feature you were boofing. Remember, this part of the boof is just like the finish of an eddy turn- your landing stroke is used to get you towards your target in the eddy.

Rock Boofs

Rock boofs were developed for boats that are too long for a single stroke to get you off of your feature- but they can be done in any boat, even today’s shorter, more highly-rockered boats that don’t require you to use them as much. They tend to work better in faster boats, however- at least in my experience.

The mechanics of the rock boof are identical to the straight-off boof, with one little wrinkle- instead of relying on body movement to lift the bow of the boat at the moment of launch, you use a ramping rock to lift your bow in the beginning- and instead of a relatively forward stroke, the boof begins as a sweep stroke, driving the bow of the boat up onto the rock.

Speed is very important when rock-boofing- you need to exit the maneuver with enough speed that your trajectory will allow you to miss the hole, and if you hit the rock too directly, the move can stall and then you’re in for a bad time.

By the same token, a rock will give you a launch that water just won’t- if you time your launch appropriately, you can get quite a bit of separation from the water. This is as much a finesse move as it is a strength move.

It’s time to go boofing now!

Boofing is fun, and as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, if there’s one move to learn that will open up new rivers to you, this is the one- it allows you to go places where the current isn’t going, so when all the current is going deep in that pool below the ledge you’re looking at, you can hit the eddy at the side of the hole instead. However, as I also mentioned, there are risks involved- so it’s best to practice this move on smaller features before moving up to larger ones.

Have fun, and be safe.

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Do you have questions or comments about this article? Let me know.

Chris Joose

Källa: ChrisJ’s Big Page O’ Stuff