Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s. It is considered an extreme sport, as it can be dangerous.
Rafting have many skills and techniques. The right skills and techniques are important to guaranteed of safety. Learning the maneuvers, skills, and technical know-how is one of the important aspects of rafting. Familiarize yourself with the essential techniques on how to raft and understand the ins and outs of the sport so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience. This section will give you some guidelines when it comes to strokes and maneuvers when running rapids. In addition, learn how to tie different knots which are useful in many outdoor activities.
Rafts in white water are very different vehicles than canoes or kayaks and have their own specific techniques to maneuver through whitewater obstacles.
- Punching – Rafts carry great momentum, and on rivers hydraulics that are dodged by canoes and kayaks are often punched by rafts. This involves the rafting crew paddling the raft to give it enough speed to push through the hydraulic without getting stopped.
- High siding – If a raft is caught in a hydraulic it will often quickly go sideways. In order to stop the raft flipping on its inside edge, the rafters can climb to the side of the raft furthest downstream, which will also be the side of the raft highest in the air leading to its name. In this position the rafters may be able to use the draw stroke to pull the raft out of the hydraulic.
- Dump truck – Rafts are inherently stable crafts because of their size and low center of mass and often they will shed gear and passengers before they actually capsize. In the industry if a raft dumps some or all of its passengers but remains upright, it is said to have dump trucked.
- Left over right or right over left – Rafts almost always flip side over side. If the left tube rises over the right tube, the raft is said to have flipped left over right and vice versa.
- Taco – If a raft is soft, or under inflated it may taco, or reverse taco. Rafts are said to have tacoed if the middle of the raft buckles and the front of the raft touches or nearly touches the back of the raft. This often is a result of surfing in a hydraulic. A reverse taco is when the nose, or stern of the raft is pulled down under water and buckles to touch the middle or back, or nose of the raft.
- End over end – Occasionally rafts will flip end over end. This is usually after the raft has dump trucked to lighten the load, allowing the water to overcome the weight of the boat flipping it vertically before it lands upside down. Rafts will usually taco and turn sideways, making an end-over-end flip a very rare flip in most rafts.
- Down Stream Flip– A raft capsizes after encountering an obstacle i.e. rock, feature like a hydraulic or even another raft. These objects are usually stationary or possibly surfing in a hydraulic. On this occasion the raft becomes unstable and usually flips over downstream or in the direction of travel. A downstream flip may be exacerbated by the load or people in the raft. People may physically assist in the inertia of the flip by pulling the boat over on top of themselves.
- Flip line – The flip line technique is the most used in commercial rafting where flips are common. The guide will take a loop of webbing that has a biner on it and attach it to the perimeter line on the raft, Standing on top of the upside down raft they will hold the line and lean to the opposite side from where the flip line is attached, re-righting the raft.
- Knee flipping – Capsized rafts that are small enough with little or no gear attached can be knee flipped. This involves the rafter holding the webbing on the underside of the raft, and pushing their knees into the outer tube, and then lifting their body out of the water, leaning back to overturn the raft.
- T rescue – Much like the kayak technique some rafts are large enough that they need to be overturned with the assistance of another raft or land. Positioning the upturned raft or land at the side of the raft the rafters can then re-right the raft by lifting up on the perimeter line.
- T-grip re-flip – The T-grip on a rafting paddle may be used to re-flip light rafts by inserting the Tee into the self bailing holes around the floor perimeter and re-righting the boat in the same manner as the flip line technique.
- Alluvial – Pertaining to material carried or laid down by running water. Alluvium is the material deposited by streams. It includes gravel, sand, silt, and clay.
- Back Pivot – Turning the raft from a ferry angle to a stem-downstream position.Used in tight places to recover from an extreme ferry angle, this maneuver narrows the passing space of the boat and allows it to slide closely past obstructions.
- Back roller – A broad reversal such as that formed below a dam or ledge.
- Beam – The width of a raft at its widest point.
- Biner – Short for Carabiner which means “clip” in Italian. In rafting, biners are used in rope and pulley rescue systems to secure things to a raft and as items of adornment in river rafting.
- Rock splats – If the rafters load the back of the raft, they can paddle the raft into a rock on the river, having it hit the bottom of the boat instead of the nose; if done correctly this can raise the raft up vertically on its stern.
- Surfing – Commercial rafts often use waves on rivers to surf
- Nose dunks – Large rafts can enter hydraulics called holes from downstream and submerge their nose, or reverse taco. This can be a safe way to get rafters wet in a hydraulic.
- Pirouette – A move executed by either a sweep or draw stroke, sending the raft spinning with the current. Often useful for avoiding obstacles