How fast do you paddle a new river?

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Dr Robin
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How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Dr Robin » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:13 am

I don't hang about on rivers, but some people go a lot faster than me! How do you set your pace?

I used to look at fast paddlers and think they were reckless, but most of them aren't swimming often! I'm sure someone will say something glib like "if you can't see the path to the next eddy then inspect", but in reality it's not that simple. There are microeddies that only good paddlers can make, and small horizon lines which only good paddlers are confident of boofing without inspection.

Having said that, I think some paddlers confuse going fast with being good, and set a fast pace despite not having the skill to do it safely.

vagabond
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by vagabond » Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:44 am

I think alot of people confuse speed descents and recklessness. i paddle fast sometimes and some slow relaxed runs at others. With solid boaters and close friends IT will be fast. With those that require more time and scouts then a slower descent.

I am in agreement with Dr Robin. I have often been called reckless for the speed I paddle, esp. on new rivers. Even more so when the rivers are in some far off place. Alot of the time speed running is the only natural choice.

I applaud the speed decents of the Glen and such like but these are tested runs. 1st descents/New river descents at speed require more than remembering a line. Solid boaters are able to run faster and safer on rivers due to the ability to boat sound at a glance, to find micro eddies and small seam lines that would perhpas be missed by those of lesser experience. Group dynamics change as you get up to this line. Take the example of the STIKINE river in BC. This multi-day class 5+ run dubbed the EVEREST OF RIVERS takes 3 days to descend. We cannot say that this is a tested piece of water (it has only ever had around 7 teams down it!) yet Tommy, DD, Jon and Toby (LVM/TDUB) ran this river in one day. That is amazing! a 3 day run in one river day... Reckless? or was it more down to the skill and judgement?

See you all later

D

I admit that they were not new to the river having run it earlier in the week (but the waterwas high and they walked out!).
breathe you are alive.
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Ray Latham
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Ray Latham » Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:55 am

Surely it just depends on the river being paddled. Some rivers offer good views ahead and can be flown down. Others are nasty with poor views and its just luck not judgement if you get down ok without inspecting.

I prefer reading and running myself where possible. makes for a more fluent run.

rich gunton
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by rich gunton » Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:10 pm

Things dont get much more enjoyable than a fast continous decent on a river. Sometimes though you got too scout. what i find is if the difficulty of the river is at the upper reaches of my skill level then I will want to scout more often and if the others are living me in the dust (I mean spray) I will get a bit unhappy. But hey sometimes I get a bit too far ahead for the people im with also.

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neilfarmer
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by neilfarmer » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:08 am

As fast as you feel comfortable with. It depends on the type of river (line of sight, waterfall, etc), the way you are feeling (on the game, nervous, etc) and the people you are with (regular paddlers, new people, some nervous after an incident they had previously, some frightened by the exploration, etc). Any attempt to run a river 'fast', without taking into account the river, knowlege and people you are with makes [you - I do not mean Robin or anyone in particular] a selfish and stupid person!

Speed of descent all depends on the grade that you are comfortable with. I paddled the Kinglass (Argyll) years back, slowly. Now I run it fast-ish. Recently, I have taken people down at breakneck pace to beat the end of daylight. Are they better than I was originally? [probably were, but...] I ran it with little knowledge, they ran it with the knowledge that every rapid they went into could be run by me, and had a description. That makes a difference.

So, I would now wager that I could beat most people down the Argyll Kinglass, but through experience or running it lots. Does it make me great? No. I could see people (and do) racing down rivers, or running falls with real fear or lack of thought (peer pressure). Are they great? No.

Run what you can, comfortably, within your envelope, at the speed that you are happy with. I have paddled with 'very fast paddlers (I am not)' and was made to feel welcome,supported and safe. Speed is not recklessness, it is efficiency. Speed without safety is stupidity.

Just my thoughts.
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Andywillson
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Andywillson » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:15 am

Dr Robin wrote:I don't hang about on rivers, but some people go a lot faster than me! How do you set your pace?
Maybe an opening in the market for a speedo for a kayak?

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mark Hirst
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by mark Hirst » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:29 pm

I have a lifestyle based around kayaking and being on the river.
I get the most enjoyment from being on the river in my boat. The longer I am on the river the more enjoyment I get. saying that there are days on some runs when I just want to get off and run away.

I kayaked the marsyandi from bule bule last year with 6 hydro speeders we were at the dam in just under 3 hours we were not paddling fast evrything just flowed

mark
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Icelandic kayak & raft

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morsey
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by morsey » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 pm

A new river! Depends on who you are with and the river type. Personally I am not keen on faffing. Getting out and checking the route is fine and taking a bit of time to decide if you want to run something if it is a biggy. What I like is when you have a rotating group system where all are confident to paddle the lines and give signals if you have to get out to recce, and you are confident that the person will tell you if they think it is the type of thing you would normally want to look at. Then the first person can check from the boat/bank and call the lines and provide cover if needed and then the group rolls through and you swap the lead. It also helps if you are happy that the person up front will give a signal if they are flashing the lines and have read it wrong and see a clean channel. The biggest speed restraint, especially on new rivers, seems to be the camera/video. Rivers like the Upper Oetz, Lower Jori, Ubaye race course, lower Romanche and Isere where you have volume, rapids and no real drops you can buzz down, looking ahead and adjusting your line to scoot holes whilst in the flow and you can just relax in the flow on the quieter bits to save eddying out to. Once you start to get horizon lines and need to know where the water will be at the bottom of drops then things slow down. Thirty second rule to decide whether you are going to run something. Check the drop/rapid, look for the lines and then spend 30secs making your decision, saves on faff and keeps the speed up. Portages, if you have to portage, get on with it. The last new river I did took longer to run the shuttle on foot and climb in than it did to paddle. I think the fastest descent of a new river was on the upper Tawe, high on the moor there are no eddies (Before it turned into a tree ditch).

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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Dr Robin » Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:47 pm

morsey wrote:....Once you start to get horizon lines and need to know where the water will be at the bottom of drops then things slow down...
I suppose this is one of the central issues for me. Say there is a small horizon line (you judge it to be a foot or two drop). You can see a pool below the drop, there's not a large volume of water going over it, so you can be confident there's no big hole there, and you run it without inspection. Worst case scenario there's a rock or two in it, but you can clatter over them. Now imagine that horizon line getting bigger and bigger, and the volume or water getting larger and larger. Where is the point at which you get out to inspect?

Personally, I regard myself as fairly cautious, and will get out of my boat if I'm not sure. But some excellent paddlers, with massive boof strokes, will run fairly big drops blind. Most of these guys aren't swimming, so they can't be reckless! Of course, you also find the odd boater who THINKS he has a massive boof, and occasionally gets beaten.

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morsey
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by morsey » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:43 pm

Dr Robin wrote:Where is the point at which you get out to inspect?
Depends on the type of river, how long it is, your group makeup, what the general style and grade are (or if you know anything about the river at all).

If the section is going to take you five/six hours and has a fair whack of hard drops, then you need to start spotting the style of the river early on and try to read what needs to be looked at and what you will run on spec. Then you need to run the easier sections fast enough to give you time to check and run the harder parts. Basically a class 4/5 river you run the fours and check the fives and keep an eye out for big drops and use experience and river features to determine where to look and where to just bite the bullet.

Imagine if you were on the Stikine and another group came down and whizzed passed you! You would be a bit gutted I guess.

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scarymary
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by scarymary » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:47 pm

it depends very much on what the river is like - eg. are there any good playspots on it, etc.

For example the Dart loop could be run in approx an hour if you were just paddling it straight down, but it's often for our club to take at least 3 hours playing on every feature.

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:22 am

scarymary wrote: For example the Dart loop could be run in approx an hour if you were just paddling it straight down,
35 minutes and that's not working hard!

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morsey
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by morsey » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:32 am

35 mins! Did you stop for a cup of tea!?! ;-)

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:52 pm

It's de rigeur.

shivaoutdoors
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by shivaoutdoors » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:04 pm

Depends on the river, depends on the group. I think it has been said. It also depends if you are paddeling xy hours or if you are just moving for a few hours a day. How to run a river and a section, how big the horizon line/drop has to be to be still paddeled while boatscouting etc., i think it can´t be mentioned in a forum, nor verbally. It has to be seen, decided. I mainly agree with D on this. Once you are in a flow (As the saying goes), it quite often seems dazzling for others how quick a river and especially a new river can be kayaked.

For myself, i feel good once i am on the river and get into the rythm (all know the chewy word "IN A ZONE"). I more so get too slow, the moment i am out inspecting over and over again. At which point this can become reckless is a different question. As long as it all works out someone can be the hero. The moment you fail (in your decision) you will be a zero. A daily life´s game....

As long as you run it by yourself, i think it is no problem. The moment you have to adjust for groups (skills, dynamics), it get´s trickier. E.g, will the guy have a boof stroke big enough to make yours. Are you actually reading a line well enough in advance to get all people through or are you blundering down with the hope everyone else will get through well too? Are you paddeling with top grade paddlers where everyone is making his own decisions while sticking to a similar route or are you tail dragging people down a river which are depending on every single stroke you make? A good (strong) paddler will make the ferry with two strokes but, the weaker paddler in the group might need 4 or 5, are you adjusting for that and "force" yourself to add strokes in there, so that the other guys are "equally" adjusting to the ferry?

There are many issues on how quick...as said before...1 foot drop (is that a drop?) or 10 foot drop or a 20 foot waterfall (is that a waterfall?). When do you go out to inspect. I think everyone´s own decision. Is it fast to boat down 300kms in 2 days (nearly flat) or 5 kms in 2 days (nearly vertical). Boating in cold weather conditions in deep gorges with sun access only from 10-1500, or start at sun break and finish in the dark to do a similar section in an hour?

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Chris W
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Chris W » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:36 pm

Heaven forbid that this high minded, worthy debate might develop into a macho man competition but....

35 minutes? Adrian, for a moment I thought you were talking about the Upper Dart. 4.2 miles at 7 mph, easy enough with the ledge covered, allowing time for the odd break out to let wheezing friends catch up. Even the Thames gets up to around 6 mph. Easier still on big volume G4 in Asia.

I did the Upper Dart in 2 hrs 45 mins with my club a while back- extra thermals required to stave off hypothermia.

Chris.
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Croft
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Re: How fast do you paddle a new river?

Post by Croft » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:48 pm

35 min? - just think what you could do with Shaun Baker's Jet kayak!:

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... =3&t=47639
Ian Beecroft - old-timer amateur boater

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