Hitting your lines successfully!
Hitting a perfect line down a challenging white water rapid can be an amazing and rewarding feeling. For most, it's the culmination of a great deal of training and preparation in the build up to that moment.
In this small feature I hope to outline a few top tips that will hopefully give paddlers at any level the best chance for success when choosing and trying to hit the perfect line!
Tip 1 - Hold your horses!
Take the time to step back and look at the full picture in front of you. View all the possible line choices from as many different angles as possible. You never know you might have missed some useful features.
Tip 2 - Check it out
What are the crux elements of the rapid? Does the approach to the rapid set you up well or not for the crux feature/features! Where will you require any major well-timed strokes e.g. boof or power strokes to tackle these tricky features.
Tip 3 - Visualise
Assess the consequence of each line and the likelihood of you being successful. Visualise yourself paddling down each of the lines but be careful to be realistic in your ability level. If you can't see a positive outcome on a line, pick a different line or go away and have a brew.
Tip 4 - Break it down
Once you have picked the line that looks like it has the most chance for success it's time to break it down and view the individual elements and their possible effects on your boat. Pick obvious marker points along the rapid like large boulders or trees. Using markers can be useful indicators to help locate your line while on the run in to the crux part of the rapid and keep you heading in the right direction.
Tip 5 - Safety first
Do you need to put any safety in place, if so what and where (throw line, safety boater, both!). What happens if it goes wrong and I get pushed off my line, capsize or swim? What would be the safety protocols!
Tip 6 - Watch the pro's
Watching other more confident paddlers making the line first can be a useful way to see how the water affected their boat and line choice and compare with your own thoughts; you may be surprised!
Tip 7 - Failing to prepare, you prepare to fail
Take the opportunity to prepare yourself mentally as well as physically. There is no need to rush! Some people like to psych up others psych down whatever works for you but try to avoid getting sucked into other people psyching process. Get comfortable back in your boat, prepare your kit and have a paddle around in the eddy for a bit first to get comfy, warm and relaxed!
Tip 8 - The best bit of all
HAVE A GO!!!!
Tip 9 - Check yourself out
Review the outcome of you line, was it successful? If so why? Did the water affect your boat as planned? What went wrong and why? A friend filming you making the line on a camera can be a helpful way of reviewing your line from another perspective, but dont get hung up on it! Watch the clip a couple of times then move on! Having a second and third run can be a nice way of polishing your line and skills.