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PostPosted: December 4th, 2011, 12:16 am 
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I agree completly. I like to cruise down the river at about 30deg to the current. This means I am already in a position to power around and obstacle or back ferry to the other side. It also reduces the water splashed into the boat mid-ships because you are not crushing the crest of the wave. You have more hull in the water which helps with the buoyancy especially when loaded with gear.

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PostPosted: December 4th, 2011, 12:26 am 
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Thanks, I forgot to mention the strategy of being cocked at a small angle to the current. Also I think no one has mentioned that if one needs to turn, it should be done when the boat crosses the crest of a wave, not down in the trough.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2011, 8:28 am 
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I've spent a lot of time working at technique for handling waves in an open canoe without floatation, have done some slow motion videos to study what works and what doesn't. First off, you need to keep in mind that a canoe will accelerate going down a wave but will decelerate going up a wave. If a wave has a crest to it (a white cap) the wave is actually curling back up stream. What that means is that you can take advantage of that change in momentum by either canoe or paddle placement or ideally both. Timing is crucial. If you want to slow down, get the paddle ready to connect with the water just before you crest a wave. When I'm concerned about getting water in the canoe, I'll plant my paddle aggressively against the wave just before it crests and apply a prying force back up stream. That will slow the canoe and I can also use the force to pivot it. Just as the canoe reaches the crest, I'll aggressively lean it upstream to force the splash away from the canoe. As the canoe goes over the crest of the wave, I'll lean it back downstream, reach my paddle over the top of the wave and grab a chunk of water that's starting to accelerate again. That will pivot the canoe easily as most of it will be airborne on the crest of the wave. Using this approach can get you to the bottom of pretty much any rapid with hardly more than a few cupfuls of water in the canoe, no bailing required. You can do this either tandem or solo, but it's hard to co-ordinate the moves in tandem paddling. Both paddlers need to know instinctively what needs to happen and they both have to be on the same page as far as technique goes.

hope that helps.

Rolf

ezwater wrote:
-edit- The wave trains can be literally half a mile to a mile long, the waves are big enough to slowly fill your boat, and opportunites to land and bail are rather wide-spaced. When I ran those rapids, I could not power forward or I took water. And I could not backpaddle constantly because it was getting me sloshed from behind.

It seemed like I was just running through the waves with the current. But the truth was that the boat tended to accelerate just a bit faster than the current because of the gradient. And I wasn't riding passively. I was reaching over wave crests, not pulling the paddle through, just adding a sort of forward high brace. That brace could be quickly turned into a pull, a sweep, or an angled draw if I felt the boat turn under me. In a tandem boat, the bow paddler has the job of doing those light braces over wave crests, while the stern paddler has to use prys, draws, forward, or backward strokes to keep that end of the boat under control.

What I am suggesting is that to maintain control, one usually need not paddle forward or back to a marked degree. The difference between boat speed and current speed should not be great, or it may limit your options when conditions change, such as coming on a pourover rock or a big hole you didn't expect.

Another thing about wave trains and backpaddling. It is harder to backpaddle or paddle forward when you are going right down the center of a wave train than it is if you choose a course a little to one side or the other. It won't look as great for the cameras, but you'll have less chance of rolling or swamping.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2011, 12:18 pm 
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Yes, those are good methods, especially where wave trains are infected with boils and explosions. I wouldn't want folks to get overconfident about such long wave trains, though. I was paddling the Schroon in a 13' canoe that the designer had made himself for a trip down the Grand Canyon. The boat is literally 17" deep, and somewhat fishform, so that I generally didn't have to worry about water climbing over the sides of the bow. I did have to reach over the crests to see that my stern didn't take water behind me.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2011, 7:22 pm 
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Rolf Kraiker wrote:
As Kim already mentioned... you maintain control in white water by moving at a speed that's different than the speed of the current, that way you can use the canoe to steer.


I have heard that said many times and I don't understand the physical reason for it. If the physics dictate that you need a speed relative to the water in order to steer a boat, how is it that you can pivot a canoe on a calm flatwater lake using a combination of draw and pry strokes?

I know that Rolf and Kim are both much more experienced ww paddlers than I am, but I do have quite a good understanding of physics and the rationale for that statement escapes me.
thx

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PostPosted: December 5th, 2011, 7:40 pm 
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wotrock wrote:
Rolf Kraiker wrote:
As Kim already mentioned... you maintain control in white water by moving at a speed that's different than the speed of the current, that way you can use the canoe to steer.


I have heard that said many times and I don't understand the physical reason for it. If the physics dictate that you need a speed relative to the water in order to steer a boat, how is it that you can pivot a canoe on a calm flatwater lake using a combination of draw and pry strokes?

I know that Rolf and Kim are both much more experienced ww paddlers than I am, but I do have quite a good understanding of physics and the rationale for that statement escapes me.
thx



Don't look at me Wotty.. I swim a bit. Look to Rolf and EZ.

But to me if you are sitting along floating, and try to do a pivot it does not work as the current pushes both bow and stern downstream.

I have not figured out all the force dynamics but invariably I hit something I don't want to while just at water speed.

I too often find myself going downriver at a slight angle to the current. Usually with the stern toward the inward curve of the river. Our whitewater season here coincides with sweeper season and I want to be able to not be a part of the outside bend sweepers.


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 6:40 am 
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In flatwater if you do a draw or pry without any forward stroke you pivot. You have not steered. If you do the same in the current you will still pivot but the current will take you into the obstacle you are trying to avoid.

In order to avoid an obstacle you need to combine the pivot with forward or reverse power.

It's the difference between spinning in a circle and running an obstacle course.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 9:09 am 
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nothing much to add to what has already been said, but I will empasize that tandem canoeing is teamwork, not just a bow and stern paddler in the same boat. it sounds to me like ther was a failure to communicate before finding out that you two had different ideas of how to get down the rapid and who was in charge, and maybe as well, a lack of communication while executing your moves. You need to cover all of that before you start out - who will pick the line (should be the most experienced paddler) and who will give the steering commands - either verbally if it is the stern paddler making the call (draw, or sweep, or backpaddle, or whatever) or either verbally or visually if the bow paddler is making the call. You shouldn't have to guess what you are supposed to be doing. If I'm with a lesser experienced paddler, I will be in the stern - with an experienced stern paddler, I like to be in the bow, and I will be making the call as to which strokes to use. But wherever I will be sitting, I make sure that I know who is picking the line and who is making the steering calls and that my partner knows as well. Then its just a matter of executing.

When there is significant difference in ability, common sence dictates that the more experienced person is running the show. Harder to decide on that if you have two more or less equally skilled paddlers, but you need to have that clear before you start, and no second guessing if you think you should be doing something different than called for - stick with the plan, or go solo.


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 9:41 am 
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The best way to think of using differential speed is to remember that a sailboat can sail into the wind by using the strength of the wind and shape it into forward motion. If you slow or speed up the movement of the canoe relative to the current, you can "carve" that potential energy with the hull and turn it into a force that you can use to direct the canoe. I did a lot of teaching white water courses in the past using a video camera. A student once commented that I'd spent a day on the water doing a lot more paddling than she'd done, yet I still seemed full of energy while she was completely pooped. I studied the slow motion replay of the day's activity. What I noticed in the replay was a marked difference in the way I timed strokes and used canoe and paddle placement. That lead me to the phrase paddle smart not hard. I'd use about five strokes to do something many of the students were trying to do in 15 or 20 strokes and their stroked were not effective. Since then, when I do a course I spend a fair bit of time trying to get students comfortable with shifting speed and leaning their hulls enough to actually carve into a current. It's amazing how much difference that makes in effectiveness. Once that "light bulb" comes on and students feel the force of the current, they minimize strokes and make them more effective. Getting the canoe in the right place, at the right angle with the right lean lets a paddler do a move in white water with no effort while just getting one of those elements wrong means they have to do a lot of work.

hope that helps

wotrock wrote:
Rolf Kraiker wrote:
As Kim already mentioned... you maintain control in white water by moving at a speed that's different than the speed of the current, that way you can use the canoe to steer.


I have heard that said many times and I don't understand the physical reason for it. If the physics dictate that you need a speed relative to the water in order to steer a boat, how is it that you can pivot a canoe on a calm flatwater lake using a combination of draw and pry strokes?

I know that Rolf and Kim are both much more experienced ww paddlers than I am, but I do have quite a good understanding of physics and the rationale for that statement escapes me.
thx


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 9:46 am 
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If there is any doubt in my mind about a paddler's ability... I'm going to stay in the stern because I can correct for just about any mistake from there. If I've got a paddler with me I trust, I prefer the bow in white water. All else being equal, you can accomplish much more from the front of the canoe if you are using back paddling techniques, but it requires more skill and team work.

Mattt wrote:
When there is significant difference in ability, common sence dictates that the more experienced person is running the show. Harder to decide on that if you have two more or less equally skilled paddlers, but you need to have that clear before you start, and no second guessing if you think you should be doing something different than called for - stick with the plan, or go solo.


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 2:14 pm 
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Lots of great information.

I'll try to add as well as tie some concepts together.

It has been stated that "you maintain control in white water by moving at a speed that's different than the speed of the current, that way you can use the canoe to steer." Not only can you use the canoe to steer but also, and importantly, your ability to move the canoe is improved because of the water moving past your paddle blade. Without water moving past your blade, your blade ineffective. Think of the pivot example. You can pivot a canoe if your blade is dynamic. Once a canoe is set in motion, either slower or faster than the current, then there is water moving past the blade and a stationary or dynamic stroke becomes more effective without working harder. The result is it is easier to control a canoe. Control leads to safety and fun.

This idea complements Rolf's comment of paddle smart, not hard.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 2:57 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
Without water moving past your blade, your blade ineffective. Think of the pivot example. You can pivot a canoe if your blade is dynamic.


One thing I could add to that from having watched a lot of learning paddlers giving them feedback when using video. When you slow down and watch how they place paddles, it's clear they are too excited and aren't paying enough attention. Often their timing is off and most of their stroke gets wasted because wave action pops the paddle out. If they'd have placed their paddle a bit sooner, or waited a few seconds till they got to the right spot in the wave, their paddle would have made a solid connection with "green" water - that's the solid stuff without froth in it. A good paddler could make a canoe move from one side of the river to the other with three or four strokes while the novice might flail away with 10 or 15 and still not get the canoe across. Wave position, angle and tilt of a canoe are also factors, but its important to place the paddle in the right place at the right time.


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 3:31 pm 
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An experienced paddler makes each stroke count, uses only what is needed and a new one tends to flail rapidly.

As making each stroke count is the basis for FreeStyle, its not surprising that paddlers taking FS instruction often go on to become excellent whitewater paddlers.

And improving in whitewater was not a skill that I could learn from books. I have to get out there and do and wipe out with a good river instructor.


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 3:55 pm 
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I fully agree that there are lots of ties between the skills necessary to run whitewater, and those involved in freestyle. There are so many whitewater paddlers that picked up freestyle to help keep their whitewater skills sharp, or just because of the similarity of strokes and balance skills between the two canoeing discplines.... Bob Foote, Harold Deal are two paddlers that surely fit that category, and there are obviously dozens more well known canoeists with excellent skills in both disciplines. But, I struggle to think of a seriously accomplished whitewater canoeist that had their roots in freestyle. I'm sure I've missed someone, as the progression makes sense, but I can't think of one. Any help?

PK


Last edited by pknoerr on December 6th, 2011, 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2011, 3:57 pm 
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Back onto the original posting....

In my mind there are many reasons to run a rapid at a speed differential to the current, all all have to do with allowing yourself to have the ability to place the canoe in some place within the current that you won’t naturally float to with the current. One reason is that static strokes have no turning effect when traveling at the same speed as the river. I’m not a proponent of static strokes in whitewater, but I do use them in moving water, and to set up above rapids. These static strokes include your J- correction (without a forward stroke), sideslips, stationary draws, pries, and jams. Yes, the “pry” portion of the J will spin the canoe but the canoe won’t actually move laterally across the current (cross the grain) without the forward stroke so in effect you are changing the position of the canoe in the current but you aren’t changing it’s course in or across the current. Number 2, you need to be traveling at a speed differential to the current for a ferry to work. In a ferry, the canoe needs to be traveling at a speed differing from the current for the current to push against the side of the canoe and that creates the ferry (whether forward or backward). Number 3, you can’t cross an eddy line (fence) traveling at the same speed as the main current. This is a common problem with folks learning the eddy-turn and peel-out, where they have no differential to the current and get rejected off the eddy fence and end up missng the eddy trying to do an eddy turn, or stuffed backwards in the eddy on a peel out. Number 4, extreme low bracing (leaning out over the paddle) is more effective with the boat moving faster than the water.

As to the original question about running whitewater faster or slower than the current; you might find it productive to spend an evening reading Bill Mason’s Path of the Paddle (again) Especially pages 102 through 107) and then pull out Paul Mason’s Thrill of the Paddle and read the Page 66. Paul elaborates why speed is necessary as whitewater becomes bigger to catch eddies, punch holes, and simply to “cross the grain”, and points out that gradient is invariable on a stretch of river, and that eventually there is too much gradient/speed to effectively backferry. At that point you’re going to need to paddle faster than the gradient.

PK


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