How to Boof a Kayak
Hey. Simon here from Aquabatics Calgary, and today we’re out at the beautiful Kananaskis River, and we’re going to be looking at the basic concepts of how to boof using cross-current speed.
So, we’re not going to be looking at running any big waterfalls or anything like that at this stage. This video is about introducing a linear progression for learning how to boof on your local class two or three run before you take it to more challenging whitewater or for creeking.
After watching this video, hopefully you’ll take away a bunch of tools that you can use on your local class two and three run to ensure that you have good muscle memory for when you push into harder whitewater. So, we’re going to break the boof down into three key components, cross-current speed, stroke timing, and edge transfer. And to do this, we’re just going to use a basic eddy lines, and as we progress, we may add a little bit of vertical drop to the move.
Really, the basis of the boof is being able to generate cross-current speed. So, part one is being able to create cross-current speed in our kayaks with control and finesse. If you skip this part, you will always be scrambling and rushed and will likely have limited success with this skill.
To start with for this little drill, we’re going to get Eddy A and Eddy B. Eddy A is a little higher than B. You’re then going to try and paddle in straight line a cross-current with minimal input from the current on the boat. If you have good cross-current speed, you can, but we normally wouldn’t, stop paddling and your boat will still track across current without the bow being turned downstream. We want you to practice this a bunch until it’s super-controlled, and you can complete the move by carving into the eddy on the other side, not spinning out on the eddy line.
Now that we’ve kind of dialed in the cross-current speed portion of it, we now want to look at stroke timing. As we move into a cross-current boof with some vertical drop, we typically take the boof stroke on the downstream side. In this example, it is a left-hand stroke. You will see here as Tim sets up, he has his boat tracking a cross-current, which gives him time to set up and plan his paddle stroke.
He doesn’t pull on the stroke immediately but waits until he nears the eddy line. Once the blade approaches the eddy line, he starts to pull on a vertical paddle stroke. This stroke’s objective is to pull his hips past the eddy line. You will know if you’ve succeeded in this with correct angle and timing if the bow stays dry and the boat continues to track a cross current in the eddy. Basically, it doesn’t spin out on the eddy line.
Now we’ve kind of dialed in cross-current speed and stroke timing, we want to add in some edging. This is an often overlooked part of the boof and without correct edging, you will never be out of boof properly. In this example, you will see Tim is gliding into the eddy as he nears the time to make the move, he reaches forward with his downstream blade towards the eddy line.
At this time, he’s also lifting his upstream edge quite aggressively. He now stays on edge until the next part of the move. Using his hips, he flattens his boat out. If this were on a bigger drop, this is where you would start to get airborne. Then, when he lands, he transitions edges and carves out of the turn which, on a real drop, would have you accelerating away from the feature that you just boofed over.
So, that’s it. The basic boof in three easy steps. Please, take the time to practice each component until you are really comfortable with them. Once you do that, things will really start to come together. It is a skill that takes a bunch of time and practice to dial in, but once it comes, it will allow you to progress your paddling to the next level with control and confidence.
Thanks so much for checking out this video. We really hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. For more great educational videos, please subscribe to our channel or check out our courses and more info at aquabaticscalgary.com.
Intro to Boofing
When reading water and determining whether that hole’s gonna be something that’s friendly and something that you can just go right through or around, or whether it’s gonna be something you should really try to avoid, there’s a couple key factors. A hole like this one right here behind us, if you notice, the hole, it’s white and foamy, but remember we talked about the anatomy of a hole. There’s the boil line. The boil line is where the water piles up into foam piles. Some of it gets sucked upstream, some of it goes downstream.
The more distance you have between the water coming into the hole and the boil line, it’s essentially the bigger the hole, the more retentive it is. Retentive means that when you’re paddling downstream, there’s a lot of upstream moving water that’s gonna slow you down, maybe even suck you back into the hole, putting you into a surf.
Now, if you’re not very comfortable surfing a hole, don’t have any practice with it, that’s gonna be a somewhat intimidating thing that you’re gonna want to avoid in the beginning. So, here’s how you determine whether the hole is something that’s gonna stop you or whether it’s something you’re gonna go right through.
Basically, a good rule of thumb is if there’s a lot of speed, the water’s going really fast into the hold and the boil line is less than three feet, you’re gonna go right through, as long as you’re fairly straight downstream. Even if the bow goes under, you should pass straight through it. If it’s more than three feet and the water’s going in slow and vertical, what’s gonna happen is your boat’s gonna go down, the oncoming water’s gonna hit your bow and you’re gonna get stopped. So, the three foot rule’s really gonna be something that you can use when you’re reading water to determine whether you’re gonna be able to get through.
So, here’s your technique for going through holes. If you’ve got holes that beat the three foot rule, the water’s coming in fast and the foam pile or the boil line is less than three feet deep, that means that you can go ahead and start paddling through them. Now, if you drift into that same hole sideways, the hole’s gonna stop you, even if it’s less than three feet.
If you go in at an angle, that hole’s gonna hit, turn your bow, maybe side surf you out the side. If you hit it perpendicular, your boat’s gonna pencil in and go right through. Now, how much it slows you down depends on whether you go on top of the hole or your bow goes under, the water hits you in the chest and stops you.
We wanna learn to keep our bow over the hole, so if we can do that, then we’ve learned a huge skill in whitewater kayaking that’s gonna take us far. There’s no way you’ll wanna be running holes that are over three feet if you can’t keep your bow over.
So, the technique is called boofing. Now, the cool thing behind boofing is that you can run through holes and keep your bow totally dry. All the boof is is where you jump on top. It’s called a boof because it’s the sound your boat makes when it hits the foam pile. Boof.
I’ve got my paddle here so I wanna teach you the boof technique. They key to boofing is not how hard you’re paddling. It’s not charging into a hole, but instead, it’s lining up in front of the hole, ideally in front of the part that’s steepest, where it drops into the hole the steepest, paddling up to it with the boat fairly straight downstream or perfectly straight downstream, reaching over the drop, so you put your paddle just over the drop of the hole and you take one long stroke, lifting your knees, one long stroke all the way into the hole.
Now, notice I said lifting your knees, not leaning back. Your objective when you take the stroke is to lift the bow up. So, lifting the bow over the foam pile allows the bow to jump and you skid right through.
A common boof mistake is to paddle hard and right when you get to where the water’s dropping into the hole, is to lean back. Now, when you lean back, you’re actually pushing your boat down, your bow down, the bow goes under, you catch water in your chest, you get slowed down by the hole.
That boof technique works whether you’re boofing into a little one foot pour over or whether you’re boofing a 15 foot waterfall. It’s the same technique. And this technique will get you far and you can practice it on the smallest features.