Peeling out is a river skill that all whitewater boaters practice every day they spend on moving water. From leaving the put-in eddy to navigating down the river, being able to enter and exit eddies gracefully is essential. Even advanced paddlers take pleasure in a smooth peel out onto fast-moving current and enjoy feeling the rush of acceleration as they meet the river’s speed.
For beginners, however, this is one of the trickiest parts of the learning process. The transition from the calm water to swift current is one of the easiest ways capsize.
Here, Alder Creek kayaking coach Paul Kuthe lays out the necessary skills to make peel outs smooth and enjoyable.
If you’re ready to peel out, chances are you’ve already caught an eddy using Kuthe’s acronym ATM (Angle, Tilt, Momentum). The same principles apply to leaving. Set your angle and build momentum as you paddle towards the eddy line. Setting a downstream tilt as you move into the current helps to keep your boat upright. Present the bottom of your boat to the current so it doesn’t catch your edge, and take a draw stroke on the downstream side of your boat to help the current spin you into the channel. Rotating your torso downstream and looking where you want to go can also help direct your turn. Bon voyage.