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Tuesday 15 June 2021
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# Reactionary Waves

are those that are angled
from the shore out towards the middle of the river and downstream.
They are like little (or big) deflectors that work hard at
keeping you away from shore and try to steer you right down
the middle of the river. When you want to get to an eddy or
to shore, you need to know how to deal with these features.
Here’s what you do:

Here are some techniques
for dealing with reactionary waves and holes to overcome their
desire to hold you away from shore.

1. The Direct Hit- A
Simple and Effective Technique to Master First- Aim your
boat directly at the wave or hole for a perpendicular
hit when you want to get over and past them. If the wave
was to come off the shore at a 45 degree angle, then you
hit it angled downstream and towards the shore with a
45 degree angle. If you aim the bow downstream with any
more angle the wave or hole will deflect the bow downstream
and send you packing on down the river.
2. The Boof- Getting on top of a Reactionary or Diagonal
Hole by boofing it- A more advanced way to get past the
hole or wave without worrying about getting perpendicular.
Since you may just want to get over the hole or wave and
then continue downstream on the other side of it you will
want to learn to get over the hole or wave “dry”
if possible.

• The key to boofing
a diagonal hole is to learn which edge must be up when
you hit the hole so you don’t dig an edge in and
get stuffed back into the pit and railroaded out into
the middle of the river. Most people are tempted to
lean into the hole and brace as if they were surfing
it. When boofing a hole, think of the hole as an eddy
instead. This way you are just jumping past the pit
of the hole quickly and getting your boat on top of
the foam pile. When you hit the foam pile you lean into
your turn and pull on the draw stroke just like you
were catching an eddy. (see Strokes and Concepts for
detailed description) The stroke will be in between
your boat and the pit of the hole, not on the outside
of the boat where our brace would go.
• How to keep
the boat “Dry”- Like all boofs, the key
is the last stroke timing. The last stroke must lift
your bow onto the foam pile and still be pulling as
is on the foam you are likely clear and the momentum
you have should do the rest. Certainly, all holes are
different. Some are too big to boof onto and you just
have to punch into them.

• The
photo here is the move at Rapid Number 9 called
“The Diagonal.” It is a classic. If
you don’t get on the diagonal high enough
you get railroaded to the right into that big pit
looking thing which is a 12 deep, scary, high volume,
pourover that could rip you to pieces. On the other
side of the diagonal is a lane about 8 feet wide
that looks like a bowling alley. If you were to
go over the diagonal and take a stroke or two too
far you would go into a pit of a hole that isn’t
a pourover, but instead it is the kind that the
foam pile is 12 feet high and super retentive, while
the one corner is backed up by the wall and the
other corner has a wrap around feeder wave that
would not want to let you out, and below is a shelf
of a rock that the water hits in a way that it would
rake you over or just slam you in. OK, so you get
the picture. The move is simply, boof onto the diagonal,
then make a quick turn downstream and stay in your
lane. Just stay out of the bumpers and you live
to see the bottom hole. This move is what inspired
me to write this particular technique article. This
particular diagonal is so spectacular that it is
the number one move of the Zambezi for a number
of reasons. The view coming in is incredible. There
you are lining up out in the middle of the river
in smooth calm water floating into a horizon line
looking for the Diagonal. Then you see it, but it
is 50 feet long, so you have to pick the place to
get on it that looks the most predictable. In this
case we looked for the smallest place. Then you
do a broad overview of the move and see the big
hole on the left, the big hole on the right, and
the end of the alley which is a mess of exploding
water. Then you refocus on your one key move. Angle
perpendicular to the diagonal; how much speed do
I need? Two hard strokes, get a little spin momentum
to the right before hitting, lift the bow on top,
pull in one more stroke to get on the flat section,
turn downstream quick and get to the end of the
alley without drifting either way. Then slam, not
unlike the feeling a bowling ball must have when
it hits the pins. It takes a second to refocus and
see where you are at, then the bottom hole awaits.
What is it? Another diagonal, this time you go under
• It started out
as a 10 foot exploding hole and as the water rose,
it became a 15 foot exploding hole. It tries to surf
you into the right bank who is littered with rocks
that jut out into the fast current. It has broken
necks, compressed vertebrae, knocked people out, broken
arms, etc. So the key here is to… Very good-
Hit it perpendicular as far from the shore as possible.
The technique for going under is to tuck hard into
your boat to prevent the foam pile from stopping you
before you get your entire boat and body deep into
the hole where it will spit you out the bottom. It
doesn’t always have predictable results though.
run here and his nose on the next.

3. Using a diagonal
to get to the middle of the river- Sometimes you just
want to stay in the middle of the river. A perfect example
of a rapid that the diagonals keep you online is Normans
on the Ottawa River. It is just a long series of reactionary
waves into a boily pool at the bottom. Just relax and
brace into the waves as they come at you and you will
get pinballed down the rapid from wave to wave, but always
stay right in the middle. No maneuvering needed.

EJ