Basic Kayak Boofing Part 3

Basic Boofing Part III: The Landing

Photo by Jason Bates Paddler Gigi McBee Pauley Creek CA
Photo by Jason Bates Paddler Gigi McBee Pauley Creek CA

No matter how well you sky off some great boof, and no matter how cool you look sailing through the air; you still need to pay attention to LAND the boof correctly. Landing the boof can mean all sorts of things; basically landing the boof involves dealing with whatever it is that lies waiting at the bottom of the boof. You may be boofing into an eddy, or into a big hole, each landing zone will require a specific technique to land in control. If we don’t pay attention, sometimes we can get a great boof and then loose it on the landing.
Assuming that all went well with the Approach and the Launch of the boof, well want to make sure that we are landing with our body weight centered and even over the top of the boat with a paddle in the water. We may also need to be landing on a slight edge, like if we are catching an eddy. We may be needing to straighten out our boat, particularly if landing in a hole, or if the boat starts to become pointed at an obstacle downstream. There are many factors, but mostly it’s just key that we stay aware and focused even while we revel in that glorious feeling of our boat sailing away airborne over a big boof.
Ideally we will want to begin our landing the split second that our boof stroke is finishing its job, by reaching immediately for our landing stroke. A left boof stroke will lead nicely to a right landing stroke, and visa versa. Reaching for another stroke in mid air will also provide us with a convenient way of keeping pressure on our knees to keep the boat level. While we are reaching for the landing stroke we can perform a “sit-up” type motion, bringing our knees up towards our chest (NOT the other way around!); this not only helps keep the boat level, but also lowers our center of gravity, and provides us with an active paddle blade upon landing.

Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler: Jason Bates Giant Gap NF. American CA
Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler: Jason Bates Giant Gap NF. American CA  (The Approach: finishing a draw stroke to set the boat up at the ideal launch pad, this draw stroke is about to turn into a forward/boof stroke. note the slight edge)
Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler Jason Bates
Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler Jason Bates (The Launch: a big boof stroke, carried well past the hips while lifting up on the knees)
Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler Jason Bates
Photo by Gigi McBee Paddler Jason Bates  (The Landing: bringing the knees up to the chest, reaching for a stroke to control the boat in the critical moment of landing, also note the eyes focusing on the landing)

During the launch we may intentionally, or unintentionally, be edging our kayak to one side or another. We will want to transfer our weight off of that edge before we land the boof, other wise we will not land in a very balanced fashion. Landing in an eddy in particular tends to produce a need for an edge transfer in mid air. Say for example that you are driving your boat off a rock on river right, at about a 45-degree angle, into an eddy. When you drive off the shoulder of the rock, the height of the rock will tend to lift your right edge slightly higher than your left. Now as you come off the rock and land in the eddy, you will need to lift your left knee up and shift your weight to your right edge to prevent tripping over your downstream edge. Landing in a sticky hole, with your boat anything other than flat and level will provide the hole with more to grab a hold of to stop you. It is import to “un-edge” the boat before landing, by shifting your weight and lifting up on whichever knee is lower.
Landing involves keeping your kayak under your control during the entire boof sequence. Things to keep in mind are your angle, edge, and what paddle strokes you may need. There is no magic formula that works every time, the information of this tip represents some hypothetical situations to get your brain thinking of the different possible technique that you will need every time that you take a boof. Keep at it…
Safety note: This tip, does NOT apply to paddling over large drops and waterfalls. This technique is ideal for use on ledge holes, and smaller drops with a good deal of aeration in the landing zone. Landing flat on any drop CAN injure your back; the two greatest risk factors to consider are the height of the drop, and the “hardness” (more aeration will soften the landing) of the water in the landing zone. For safer landings this tip assumes that you are boofing off drops no higher than three or four feet, and that you are landing in moderately aerated water. For any higher drops or “harder” landings it will be imperative NOT to land flat! With experience much of this technique can be MODIFIED to use in a wide variety of applications (including certain play paddling moves); it is therefore highly recommended that intermediate paddlers learn to use this technique on smaller features in class 2-3 water. Look for more advanced boofing technique in future tips.
Happy landings…

Article originally published Dec 208

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