River Running Strategies

Organisation as a group is key to running any rapid - be clear on your plan as a leader and make sure that your group is fully briefed. As a leader you should also make sure that everyone in the group is capable of implementing the line that you have deemed suitable. Remember as a leader your role is to facilitate the safety but also the enjoyment of the trip, ensuring that the group is having a positive experience which is important when runnning white water. Below I outline some strategies to help facilitate this...

What strategy to employ?
Whether kayaking or canoeing there are many factors which influence our river running strategy.  On simple grade 2 rapids where there is a low volume of water or where there are well defined group size eddies then a simple strategy will be effective.  “Mother Duck” style of leadership is straightforward – the group travel as one line, keeping fairly close and following a lead paddler into the identified eddies. Keep an eye though for the usual deviation which is passed down the line of paddlers, and take that into account as necessary!

As rapids become more complex and the environment more variable, the paddlers run the risk that they may overtake you as they are not able to effectively catch eddies or be pushed off line due to a number of reasons such as the river features, other water users etc.  As a leader you may well extend the line of sight using your most experienced members of the group and use an eddy-hopping strategy whereby you scout ahead but also keep a line of sight back up the chain. This helps you to break the rapid down into more manageable sections and also for you to scout ahead for potential issues or group sized eddies to remain in contact with your fellow paddlers.

There are also alternative strategies which I'll contemplate in future blogs so keep an eye out....