Less is More Part 4
So you have recognized patterns, identified the weaknesses in current to use to your advantage, done your homework and placed your boat into the right water. And you are still getting blown away by the current. What gives!?
Here’s a secret weapon: raise the bow on entry to current. Affectionately known as boofing the eddy line, it does several things as you cross the eddy line. First, it will prevent the bow of the canoe from engaging oncoming water so quickly, second it will put you into a stern rudder position for control, and third it will allow you to flatten the hull on entry.
Let’s look at these three in detail. As you are crossing the eddy line, your last forward stroke should be placed on or just before the eddy line itself and propel you across the eddy line and into the wave trough. We saw in Place Your Boat that once you drop into the trough you no longer need forward strokes, and indeed they may be counter productive as they will drive you up the back of the oncoming wave, negating the momentum you gain from gravity. No need for forward strokes means you can sit back and weight the stern of the canoe, raising the bow.
Raising the bow upon entry prevents it from engaging downstream current until the canoe is fully into the trough. Remember that most of your canoe is still in the eddy current- going upstream, and engaging the bow in downstream current will cause an abrupt and out of control spin downstream. Lifting the bow clear allows the canoe to skip across the eddy line and remain perpendicular to the wave trough, providing the control for and easy ride.
Sitting back now puts you into a stern rudder position of great power and control- now isn’t that enticing?! The stern rudder allows you to control your path across the wave trough and even return to the eddy if you have the need. You can maintain a perpendicular angle to the trough and surf, open it a couple degrees to slide across the trough, or open right up and proceed downstream- now that’s being in control of your destiny!
Finally, flattening the hull on entry keeps the canoe from carving downstream. We know from our flatwater practice (remember that?) that more tilt on the canoe means a tighter carve, less tilt straightens our path, so take that tilt off if you don’t want to head downstream just yet! Sitting back into a stern rudder position is very stable and allows you to flatten your canoe without fear of flipping upstream.
Is this just for solo boats, you ask? No way, try in a tandem, it works! Especially in the shorter boats where paddlers are close together, but getting the bow paddler to sit back and the stern paddler into a ruder, while both flatten the hull will work wonders.
Okay, now you have another secret weapon in your pocket. Try it. Play with it. It will change your life.