I have been doing some class two rapids and am new to W/W. Some of the sections depending on water levels develop some waves that are two to three foot high and just keep coming one after another for about 30 to 50 yards long. My question is after you choose your line through a section do you let the current propel your boat and just make steering corrections or do you paddle through the section under power at all times? My boat I am using is a Wenonah Sandpiper in roylex, yes I know this boat was not made for W/W but for now it’s all I have, pure W/W boats just don’t fit my budget.

Control Is Always Better…

– Last Updated: Jun-24-04 11:23 AM EST –

when your boat is moving faster relative to current. I found draw strokes will turn the boat while not losing speed. Anticipate the lines, and make the adjustments.

The more you play, the more you can figure out how fast you can redirect the boat. Recently, I have been playing at getting around this rock, and that rock, etc, to get more a sense of my boat control, rather than a straight run through.


PS. Ooops... I just noticed that your boat is not white water oriented. That means turns are slower and you need to really anticipate your line and keep them relatively straightforward.

Sing forgot to say
that control is always better when your boat is moving faster OR SLOWER than the relative current. With an open boat, sometimes it is necessary to backpaddle as you pass through a set of standing waves. Particularly important when the canoe is loaded with gear. Moving slower than the current is not as spectacular and “fun”, but you will ship less water.


A paddle in the water can give more
stability. Common sight is someone doing a 'sky brace’just before boat over. lol

Usually Slower, Sometimes Faster
Depends upon the situation. As mentioned, you need to be doing one or the other so the current is not controlling YOU. I prefer to back paddle and ease into most as it gives me more time to read the water and see what’s coming up. Occasionally you need to go faster, for instance if you have a hydraulic it’s best to have some speed to get through it. If you ease into it it just might keep you there for awhile. WW

though, admittedly, I rarely backpaddle. I tend to charge straight in, get my butt kick, and then think how to paddle a line differently the next time. :smiley:


reminds me
when I dumped my MR freedom solo I had a heck of a time getting the water out so I bought some flotation bags. But the next time I dumped the boat I watched it float away upside down while I was fighting to get out of the roller I was in.My daughter had to chase it down with her kayak.Great times

How do you like that boat generally? There is one for sale out here and I am tempted. It might be nice for fishing the small lakes up in the Sierras.

I already have SOTs and a Pungo for that, and I need a new surf boat, so I have been resisting the temptation. It would be nice to have a nice light canoe…

Is that the ultimate high brace?

Paddle paddle paddle
Always paddle in a rapid including wavetrains.


You want to be moving faster or slower than the current so that you get maximum control. So you might be paddling forward or you might be back paddling depending on the rapid, the boat, and what you are trying to to with them. As previosly noted you are a lot more secure with your paddle in the water. So pick a line, make a plan and paddle the rapid.

In an open boat you might try quartering the waves, that is going through them at an angle, to minimise taking on water.

If you love your boat use plenty of flotation when you expect to be in rapids.

Bill Masons “Path of the Paddle Whitewater” video is as good as any for tips on running traditional open canoes in whitewater.

Have a ball!


If it is not technical, and…
I have a straight on through line, I just go with the flow, do a little rudder steering and enjoy the ride.

If it is technical I am constantly correcting, and trying to set up for my next sharp turm.



um…no…a high brace is useful. But a
’Sky brace’ is when people hold their paddle in the air trying to figure out what to do next…

‘Gunwale brace’ is when people grab the gunwales. I’ve done both, but it’s not a good idea if you want to stay dry. Big oops! =:o and boat over! lol

My 2 cents worth …
In wave trains (what I believe you’re describing), I never quit paddling. I am constantly back stroking, power stroking, drawing, sculling, and cross drawing. I am constantly scanning (reading the river) ahead of me, and making adjustments to maintain, or attain what I like to call “optimum position”. Or in other words, I want to be/stay in the right place at the right time.

With a Sandpiper(owned one),I suggest you use the quartering technique that has been previously described to avoid taking on too much water. A little more difficult to steer when it has 20 gallons of water in it eh? If you’re going to continue to use a Sandpiper for that type of action, I suggest you invest in a couple of air bags. If you’re getting a real rush out of what you’re doing now, you’d better start saving some money. Soon the Sandpiper will not suffice.

Regarding the brace; I don’t believe it is a good idea to maintain your paddle in a static(non changing) position, out over the water like an outrigger. Don’t believe any expert OC1 whitewater paddler with ever suggest it either. If you maintain that “optimum position” I referred to, you will be less likely to need a brace.

The “air brace” is a worthless stroke; all you do is get cold, wet, bumped, scratched, bruised, whacked & tired of swimming after you use them.

I am speaking from practical experience on that subject, let me assure you!

Go for it!


i agree, control and an have
an active paddle. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t okay to float or to follow the main current, but to maintain control having an active paddle is essential. Welcome to white water

for all the advise, I will try out some of your sugestions on my next outing. Barracuda I love my Sandpiper for overall use but I think that the wenonah vagabond or the Bell yellowstone are a little better boat.

i did
a little different air brace last weekend. i was on top of the side of a wave leaning over and tried to paddle; but could not reach the water as the wave was too tall. so much for shorter paddles, ha,ha…mikey

Just to chime in… I fish out of my vadabond all the time. I have paddled mostly flat water as the rivers here in s.ohio have been a mess. NIce for ww boys though. Anyway I have a tuffweave model. It is great for the small lakes. It has a bit of a flat bottom though. I put a good lean on it the other day and it almost slipped out from underneath me. For rivers the bell is probably better. It has a bit more rocker. I have not had it long so I am still learning the canoe.

what I’m seeing with the kayak beginners – as they start to go over they let go of the paddle with the low hand and reach out to stop themselves from “falling”. Dramatic, but not very effective…