Pro Panel: Boofing Technique

Bryan Kirk

Boofing technique tips, Blister Gear Review.
Bryan uses a rock to boof on Super Max rapid, CO. (photo by Shane Groves)

Team Wave Sport Kayaks

The number one technique that I focus on to get a consistent boof is this: I flick my hips towards my targeted landing spot. Think about generating your boof from your hips, not just your knees. The angle of the hip flick varies from zero degrees to your kayak (straight ahead) to 90 degrees (a totally sideways boof). The hip flick and boof stroke are done simultaneously, and the ‘flick’ requires the paddler to actively separate their upper and lower body. On a drop where your boat is parallel with the lip, such as when you are driving hard right, your hip flick will be towards your left hip pad and directly away from the drop and into your desired landing spot.

Focusing on combining the hip flick and normal core rotation forward stroke can entirely erase the most common reason why so many people miss their boof and go deep. If the standard forward stroke is used as the boof stroke, sans hip flick, you can expect to explore the depths of the river. The key is to incorporate the hip flick and final stroke concurrently so that your hull is projected outward instead of dropping parallel with the falling water. Just remember, you need a smaller hip flick on taller drops to protect your back and avoid over boofing.

My current creeker is the Wave Sport Recon 93. I find that my hip flick doesn’t need to be quite as snappy or powerful to lift the bow. The Recon is so much faster than my Habitat and Diesel that it tends to soar away from drops a lot easier. Its extreme rocker in the bow is also much easier to keep elevated in the landing zone at the base of drops.

Clay Wright

Boofing technique tips, Blister Gear Review.
Clay keeps his bow pointing slightly down on a tall ledge in Rock Island, Tennessee. (photo by Stephen Wright)

Team Jackson Kayak

Most boaters blow the timing of the boof or take a stroke that is too far out from the sidewall of the boat, which is effectively a sweep stroke that sends the bow off to the side. Keep your stroke vertical and your blade close to the side of your boat, unless you intentionally want to turn off of the lip of the drop.

Practice your timing in flat water by boofing every leaf, bubble or stick along your way until you can very precisely drop the bow right smack into them. Now get to boofing every low, smooth, rounded rock in your path.  Drive over rocks as high as 1’ out of the water, drive your bow up as high as you can on any slab under 45 degrees in your path. Practice makes perfect, and there are a ton of things to boof besides just waterfalls.

My current boat of choice is the Jackson Zen. The planing hulls with low stern rocker that are so popular right now have a big perk– speed! But I don’t want to land them completely flat. Instead, they are designed to land with the bow slightly pointing down then ‘scoop’ out downstream. The planing hull is quicker to transition vertical downward speed into downstream speed so it’s a blast to run many of the holes I used to be scared of. These boats are easiest to boof when on edge because the sidewall may have more rocker than the hull. So play with leaning the boat over a bit on your boof stroke before flattening it out for the landing. Have fun!

David Spiegel

Boofing technique tips, Blister Gear Review.
David keeping a centered body position for stability on Granite Falls, WA.

Paddle Sports Editor, Blister Gear Review

A lot of people casually describe the boof as “pulling your knees to your chest,” but I think this explanation often causes people to lean back and learn bad boofing habits.

Instead, I like to think about propelling my boat away from the ledge without letting the bow drop downward. Thinking about keeping a tight core and taking a forward propulsion stroke has helped me a lot. The propulsion boof stroke should finish by coming out of the water at your hip, similar to the release of a normal forward stroke. This position gets you ready your next stroke or low brace in the landing zone.

The propulsion stroke is, however, just one type of boof. The other common boof stroke that I use is the “sweep boof.” Quinn mentioned this in his section. This is particularly useful when you need to change your angle right at the lip. Approach the lip with angle, taking a sweep stroke to turn your bow downstream and slightly drop your upstream edge. Keep your core tight so that the bow doesn’t drop, and voila. This is a great one to practice in a playboat by sweeping your stern under water. There’s not a completely hard and fast line between the propulsion boof and the sweep boof, it’s a spectrum.

I focus on keeping my body position centered or slightly forward when boofing. It’s tempting to lean back when pulling hard on a boof stroke, but leaning back puts pressure on your feet, which causes the bow to drop and is unstable in the landing zone to boot. This is the root cause of a lot of back enders and beatings. Keeping my body centered or slightly forward keeps the boat upright and on line when paddling away from the drop. It doesn’t matter if you launched a nice flat boof if you then land in an unstable position and flip in the aftermath.

I’m currently paddling a ZET Raptor, which has a somewhat minimalist rocker and is relatively short at 8’ long. I’ve been taking an even later stroke because of the low stern rocker. The short length allows for quick pivoting, which means that sweep boofs also work exceedingly well.

Bottom Line

We hope this discussion was useful. Some things were said more than once, but we hope that hearing the same thing in slightly different terms may add some clarity about a complex and difficult technique to explain.

We’d love to hear what topics you’d be interested to have this panel to discuss next time around. Leave questions or comments below and we will do our best to answer.

And thanks to all of the panelists who took the time to share their advice.

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