I was paddling at the weekend with two other experienced coaches and a group of aspirant white water paddlers and was reminded how even the simplest of rapids can present us with all the material we need to hone our route finding abilities. The rapid we were looking at was ‘only’ Grade 1/2 but had sufficient features to prompt a very useful discussion on the lines that might be taken to progress from one eddy to another and the tactics we might use to bring it all together.
Two things really stood out. The first was value of making our way down the rapid to identify as many options as possible and then to work our way back up to determine which options would be best. This entailed deciding where on the river we wanted to end up and then working out which eddy we might best approach it from, and then which we might make that eddy from and so on back to the top of the rapid.
The second point was how useful it is to share with others your chosen route plan. Announcing which line you’re proposing to take provides a powerful incentive to make that line! And if you don’t, it gives you and your paddling partners a framework around which to work out why you didn’t and a revised plan for another attempt.