In August we watched the world’s best freestyle kayakers rip apart the Garburator Wave in Ontario, Canada, with power, precision and finesse. But the world’s best freestyle kayakers aren’t just one-dimensional wave monkeys. Many of them also happen to be among the world’s best creek boaters, and there is a reason.
Although playboating seems to have lost its cool lately—most beginner and intermediate boaters buy creek boats and focus on river running. But many boaters at the highest level of the sport still recognize how playboating skills are crucial to creek boating.
The most obvious of these skills is the roll. Play boating forces you to flip over a ton, and leads to a bombproof combat roll that is critical in hard whitewater.
The roll is not, however, the only vital playboating skill that translates to river running success. Six of the world’s top pro paddlers (some of them just competed at the World Championships in Canada) are here to tell you about the play boating skills that will take your whitewater paddling to the next level.
Be aware of your surroundings after an unexpected roll
Take control of unintentional back enders
Get comfortable in trashy holes
Control your bow on waterfalls and boofs
Practice surfing to perfect your ferries
Build a mental map of river features