|Rafting Skills & Techniques:
Learning the manoeuvres, skills, and technical know-how is one of the important aspects of rafting. Familiarize yourself with the essential techniques on how to raft and understand the ins and outs of the sport so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience. This section will give you some guidelines when it comes to strokes and manoeuvres when running rapids.
Rowing or the use of oars or paddles is an integral part of rafting, so it is important to know how to row effectively. Take note that it is not just about arm movement. Your entire upper body and legs all play a major role in providing the raft sufficient power to run the rapids. You also need to lean slightly forward as you thrust the blade in the water for greater control.
Rafting calls for a series of manoeuvres that will enable you to steer the boat and overcome the boulders and other obstacles. Take part in steering the Raft by knowing the different boating strokes.
Start with learning how to use your oars.
Plant the blades in the water behind you, stretch your arms forward then pull your hands toward you.
Notice that as the blades move in front of you, the Raft budges backward.
Also called protégée, this stroke will move the Raft forward. To do this, plant the blades in the water in front of you, position your hands near your chest then stretch your arms forward.
With both blades planted in the water, push on one oar and then pull on the other. Do this simultaneously and the Raft will turn towards the direction of the oar that is doing the backstroke.
Keep an eye on where you’re headed and on the water. There may be rocks that can damage the oar blades while you are rowing. Place the blades against the side of the raft. You can tuck them in front of you or against the side of the stern.
These basic Oar Strokes are a good foundation of other manoeuvres in the river. Make sure to learn them first before running the white-water.
How to Paddle a River Raft:
Paddling a river raft may not look hard as it looks since you might have seen numerous people do it in real life or in television. However, this type of activity can also be pretty challenging especially if you are used to doing things by yourself. Paddling involves both skill and the ability to work with others as a team. We will discuss more of it as we go along with this article. But first, let us show you how to paddle your raft correctly. Below are some tips on how to do it. Paddlers should be spread evenly on both sides of the raft.
The paddlers’ inside hand (the hand which is on the side of the boat), is the one that grips the top of the paddle. The outside hand (the one that’s on the side of the river) holds the stem of the paddle. To move the raft forward, the paddlers make a digging motion. This is done by making left hand pull the stem of the paddle towards the aft or the rear end of the raft. The right hand at the same time pushes the top end of the paddle away from him or her. The opposite is done when making the raft move backward. To move to the right, paddlers on the right paddle backwards while those on the left do the forward paddle.
The opposite is done when moving the raft to left. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yes, but paddling is a team effort and that’s where things get a bit tricky. To make sure that things coordinated and that the paddlers of each side of the raft are paddling at their proper directions, the team chooses a leader to guide the rest of the team. He or she is usually the most experienced rafter of the group.
It is each peddler's duty to listen to the leader’s instructions. Now that you have a better idea of how paddling a river raft is done, it’s time to practice it in a real world setting. Bring your friends along to ensure a fun Rafting experience. Have a great time and stay safe!
Manoeuvres when Running Rapids:
After knowing the different fundamental strokes with paddles and oars, you are now ready to learn the basic manoeuvres that will enable you to run the rapids. Learn how to do each key manoeuvre and understand how it affects your rafting experience:
How to stay on track:
White-water does not flow in one direction. You have to deal with rocks, eddies, and other obstacles. Your goal is to keep the raft parallel with the current. To avoid ‘wandering’, align the vessel with the current. Slow down by doing back strokes and make forward strokes to move ahead.
This is steering the raft to either direction across the river. To ferry, make sure that the raft is parallel with the flow. Make a narrow angle toward the bank. Notice that this manoeuvre slows you down a bit but it will move you sideways. Create a bigger angle and the current will push you further across the river.
Turns / Pivots:
You need proper oar or paddle strokes when turning the raft. When it pivots, it means turning while staying in one place. When you need to pass through a tricky part in the river, you need to pivot the raft so it can squeeze itself in the narrow spot. To exit the passage, you need to pivot the raft again so it will be parallel with the current.
If there is an obstacle on your way and the situation does not permit you to turn or pivot, you can make side slipping strokes – draw or pry strokes. If done correctly, you will be able to avoid colliding with the boulder.
An eddy is current which resembles a whirlpool, usually behind a rock or obstacle. It moves in contrast to the main current, creating a circular motion. An eddy usually offers a safe place to get out of the current. When you need to park your raft, cross the eddy line fast and enter at 45 degrees angle so you will reach the high (upstream) or deep (near the middle of the eddy) portion. The high or deep section has upstream current which can cause the raft to stop. Knowing what rafting is all about, you should be able to do certain techniques that will come your way. White-water offers a lot of opportunities for you to enhance your skills. Learn the necessary manoeuvres and have fun running the rapids.