— This story originally ran in C&K’s 2011 issue of Whitewater, now available on newstands. Video by Five 2 Nine Productions.
A MANEUVER TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH HUCKING WATERFALLS has a second, more important use in whitewater canoeing: Boofing ensures a dry line in the burliest rapids. “I use it constantly to keep my open boat dry when going over pillows, punching holes and dealing with wet haystacks,” says Mark Scriver, a veteran OC-1 shredder and C&K’s whitewater canoeing guru. “If I boof the corner of some pillows and steep eddies I can ride the relatively flat water behind them rather than sticking to the wet ride in the big waves.” The skill boils down to simultaneously propelling the boat forward with a powerful, well-positioned forward stroke and using the abdominals to lift the bow to land flat, explains Scriver. The goal is to keep your gunwales above the spray and maintain forward momentum. Because the same technique applies in Class II or Class V water, a solid boof is your passport to progressing to more challenging rivers. – Conor Mihell
THE APPROACH: Practice boofing on mild, ledge-type drops with deep water above and below. These two variables and the abruptness of the lip of the drop will determine your route. Whatever feature you’re boofing, choose the steepest line with enough water to avoid bottoming out, and be sure to maintain enough speed to avoid pinning on a pillow rock.
PRIME TIMING: The timing of the boof stroke is critical in making the move work. For clean, straight ledges, plant the stroke just behind the lip. On anything feeding into a hole-be it a ramp, slide or tongue-Scriver advises delaying the stroke as long as possible to ensure your bow doesn’t bury into the landing zone. The goal is to grab the last of the green water and skip your boat over the hydraulic with upward momentum.
ONE SOLID STROKE: “The boof stroke is a good, efficient forward stroke with a well-placed catch,” Scriver says. Aim to bury the blade completely, but avoid the tendency to tilt your boat to your paddle-side in the process. Any boat tilt at the top of the drop will increase by the time you reach the bottom.
CORE CRUNCH: The muscles of your abdominals control the angle of your boat. As you perform the boof stroke, engage your core and pull your knees to your chest to lift the bow. Longer, heavier boats require more thrust than the new generation of lightweight, pint-sized playboats and creekers. Practice varying the degree of knee lift to control the angle of landing on bigger drops, and to minimize the risk of spinal compression.
STICK THE LANDING: Come out of the boof paddling aggressively to maintain your momentum. That way, you can pull yourself clear of the often-chaotic water at the base of a drop.