Do Your Homework!


Less is More Part 2

It’s probably been a while since you heard this phrase but, yes, you have some homework to do.  Making it look easy- and therefore working less, is all about doing your homework.

I used to teach for the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School, working primarily with 15-18 year olds, mostly boys.  I don’t have to tell you about the work ethic of this population.  Much of their motivation is to do nothing, have chill time, but there are many things to do on a wilderness trip that tend to get in the way of that.  I used to try to impart that the way to be lazy was to get all your work done quickly so that you now have time to chill while waiting for the rest of the group.  This strategy of getting your work done early so you can be lazy applies to moving water as well.

Your homework is all done in the eddy before you ever enter current. This means your work will be done early so you can be lazy later.  In Part 1 we looked at recognizing patterns and making a plan.  In the standard whitewater pattern we saw wave peaks and troughs, and these troughs are what we will key off.  Your homework is to set up to enter the current where the wave trough meets the eddy, with your boat perpendicular to the trough line– let me repeat, perpendicular to the trough line.

You need enough momentum to drop the bow of your canoe into the trough, but not so much that you ride up the back of the next wave upstream.  Timing is everything as they say, and it’s no different here.  You will pick a trough to enter on (reread Part 1 on finding patterns and calling your shot) and locate the exact point of entry where it meets the eddy line.  Now work back from there to find the arc your boat must take to enter that exact spot with at 90 degrees to the trough line.  Next work out just how much momentum you will need to drop the bow into the trough without riding up the back of the oncoming wave- phew!

Trough meets eddy line here, enough momentum, right angle, okay homework done

If your homework is not done (and done well) in the eddy there is no point in entering current- remember, plunging ahead and hoping for the best is never a good plan and in 20 years of teaching on the river I have never seen anyone make their intended line that way!  The good news is that if you have not done your homework well you are still in the eddy and you can simply back up and start over rather than just going anyway.  There is plenty of time to do your homework.

I have often said that 90 percent of paddling moving water is getting into and out of current with control and by doing your homework in the eddies you will be well on your way to achieving it- and 90% is an A, if I recall from my school days!


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