This article was written by Rock/Creek Down Under manager Sara Horne… enjoy!
We’re over the hump of Summer, friends. And for those of us in the Southeast kayaking community, that means the bittersweet end of full-time Ocoee Season. This awesome little river holds a special place in my heart. For years now, it’s been my source of income, entertainment, community, and, also very important, “air conditioning.”
Every summer, no matter how hot it gets, or how infrequently it rains, we have a consistent, continuous stretch of class III/IV whitewater. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we get five days a week of sweet relief. So obviously, it’s a bummer when the water cuts back to weekends only, and eventually, to a dry riverbed during the winter months.
The sweet part of this deal? When the Ocoee runs out, it’s “creeking” season. Most of the whitewater creeks around the southeast typically run during winter months. Rain seems more consistent, and tree leaves don’t soak up all our rain. Runs that qualify as “creek boating” are usually lower volume and steeper gradient. Your margin of error is slim, the consequences are great, and the adrenaline rush truly is the greatest legal thing on the market.
Markedly different from the Ocoee, creeking also happens on short notice. Let’s say, for instance, we watch the weather forecast, and have no more than 12 hours notice to throw boats on the car, call up a crew, and meet at the put in. If I’ve said anything in this last paragraph, it’s “get your s#!* together.”
So, last weekend, realizing that we’re well into August, the R/C Down Under Team headed to the Ocoee with one goal in mind: get your boof on! (And sweat out a hangover, but that was more of a necessity than a goal.)
Unless you skipped down to here because you know everything there is to know about kayaking and you just want to look at the pictures, you may be wondering, “Boof?”
Yes, friends, boof. Urban Dictionary (please scroll to the second definition if you must cross-reference) describes boofing as “The act of lifting the bow of a whitewater kayak while going over rocks, waves, or waterfalls, in order to launch over hydraulics (“holes”) or rocks.” This action is named after the noise a boat makes as it smacks the water. I’ll admit I have a hard time not sounding off a long, loud “BooooooooFFFF!!!!” after landing a good one.
Being that I’m still relatively new to these creek boating shenanigans, this act is incredibly fun. When done correctly, a boof launches you off a drop horizontally, instead of just melting over it with no forward momentum. It involves planning of angles, precise timing, a few carefully placed strokes, and a hip thrust of epic proportions. Shake and bake, and with a little practice and you’ve got yourself as close to flying as I care to get. Then you can take this move to bigger, scarier rivers with the confidence that you’ll clear holes, avoid piton rocks, and look awesome doing it.
Back to the actual kayaking part… while out on the Ocoee, we ran into a good friend, Jeff West, of Ace Kayak Instruction. He recently published a Middle Ocoee Guidebook and Training Manual, which spills all the dirty little secrets to hitting the best boofs on the Ocoee. Of course, it includes all the other secrets to the Ocoee, like sneak lines, attainment moves, and even flatwater workouts that will make you look as good as Jeff West.
We asked him if we could share a couple maps with you good folks, in case you feel like firing up these lines yourselves. Being a cool guy (and even cooler kayak instructor, should anyone be in the market) he agreed. We’re even professionally installing red, custom “X” marks on the exact location of each boof on every map. Fancy, huh? I’m only sharing three maps with you though, because I think you should go buy the other sixty one (61!) maps in the book. I know we’re all dirtbags here, but it’s worth it.
*Theory not actually tested, approved, or guaranteed by R/C.
I love this one because it’s the most challenging for me. Stay far, far river left from the top of the rapid, duck under the tree limbs, and throw a huge right stroke to grind off the river right side of the tall, triangular rock. The lead in is tricky, and you can easily get off line or lose momentum in the squirrely water. Build a little speed in a long, fast boat (like my Liquid Logic Remix 69) and hit it just right , and you’ll catch about as much air as can be caught in class II+ whitewater without installing wings on your kayak.
Classic, classic Ocoee Boof. Launch straight from the put-in ramp, head maybe 50 ft downstream, and drive over the river right side of the “Whiteface Rock” with left angle. No better way to warm up than getting airborne.
If you’re feeling frisky, there’s another good boof just past Grumpy’s Ledge on river left. Look for a small ledge drop created by a slightly peaked rock and drive over it.
I can’t explain it, but I love this one. Maybe it’s because I know when I run this line, I won’t take a beating in the hole. Maybe it’s because there’s usually a family of red… I mean locals sitting on the bank to cheer you on. Maybe it’s the textbook boof sound this one gives up Every. Single. Time.
Either way, this one is pretty straightforward. Go right, stay right, pick through the shoals, and drive off the very top of the rock with a huge left boof stroke.
There you have it, friends, my top three picks. This isn’t to say that there aren’t other GREAT boofs on the Middle Ocoee. In fact, please, nobody tell Tablesaw or the Mushroom Boof above Broken Nose. But for the beta on those, you’ll have to pick up Jeff’s book — available at Rock/Creek Ocoee, Rock/Creek Down Under or at Jeff’s site here. While you’re at it, grab a Liquid Logic Remix 69, it’s a boofing machine.
Thanks for reading,