White Water Strategies for Canoe and Kayak
To help us descend a rapid safely it helps to be organised. It is also useful that everyone knows ‘the plan’. Having a strategy that everyone understands and is capable of implementing is important when runnning white water.
Whether kayaking or canoeing there are many factors which influence our river running strategy. On simple rapids, with a low volume of water a simple strategy will be effective. “Mother Duck” style is straightforward – the group travel as one line, keeping fairly close and following a lead paddler.
As rapids become more complex and the environment more variable, the paddlers risk overtaking each other, being pushed off line or bunching up too close to allow enough space to manouver. In these situations a group may break into smaller subgroups or ‘buddy’ pairs. The group can then break the rapid down into shorter, more managable sections by using the eddies like laybys. These eddies allow the paddlers to regroup, pause and re-adjust whenever necessary.
Have a look at both strategies here-
When groups are still forming as a team, often a more formal approach is needed. And as the team develops and starts to really work together effectively, the strategy can become more fluid as each team member understands the behaviour of the other group members. When this stage is reached it can often look like the group is operating without a strategy as it is so free-form. And the group then have the option of operating on a more formal basis whenever they feel the need.
Other river running strategies work well too – come back again and we’ll look at more options in the future.