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May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, July 2000 Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
WORK YOUR: Delts, abs, back
Named for the sound of a boat hull hitting flat on the water, boofing is paddling's equivalent of catching air on a mountain bike. The move is essential for aspiring steepcreekers or those tackling technical rivers, and comes into play most often on drops of roughly ten feet or less. (The impact from higher boofs can be a back-breaker, literally, so paddlers tend to pencil in vertically on big falls.) "Knowing how to boof is imperative," says Tao Berman, holder of the world-record 98-foot drop off Upper Johnson Falls in Canada's Banff National Park. "If there are rocks, you can land flat and not bang up your boat, and if there's a big hydraulic that wants to hold you at the bottom, you can hit the water paddling."

Let's begin with your boat. For boofing, shorter is better. "A lot of boat in front of you is going to make your kayak want to go vertical," says Berman. Second, "start with small drops and work your way up." The higher the boof, the more aerated spray you need at the bottom of the falls to cushion the landing, since even four-foot drops can be injurious. OK, now for technique: "There's a lot you can do on the lip and in the air to control your landing," Berman says. "Your last paddle stroke will determine the angle of your boat." Charge the horizon line with a few quick strokes, plant your paddle in the water over the lip, thrust your hips forward as you push off, and hold your paddle like a rudder until you're dropping at your target angle (the flatter you want to land, the longer this will take). Stay upright during the descent and plant your paddle across the deck in front of you; in narrow chasms, hold your paddle alongside the boat. As you hit the water, the sound you will hear is...

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