After a number of years of teaching packrafting to a wide range of paddlers I have changed my opinion on what it takes for a packrafter to paddle rapids really well. I now believe that one of the fundamental problems that many packrafters face is that they are unable to generate sufficient power at the correct time whilst maintaining their ‘line’ through a rapid.
It is so important for all whitewater paddlers to be able to generate forward power. Power is needed to cross eddylines, to change position on the river from one side to the other, to get over holes, waves and seams and it is a critical part of boofing over waves
Focus on generating power through efficient forward strokes. These can be achieved if you:
The forward stroke technique is actually the hardest stroke to master. It is something that I am continually working on yet I still have a long way to go. Watch the slow motion video below of professional kayaker and fellow instructor Dan Hall to see good forward technique in action:
If you can produce forward power then you can build and change momentum and the advantage of this should become apparent in Tip #3.