Class V rapids are the highest classification of runnable rapids. Class VI does exist, but these rapids are considered unable to be paddled except by teams of experts for exploratory purposes. According to the International Scale of River Difficulty, class V rapids are for expert paddlers. These rapids are long, difficult and often obstructed. Swims are extremely dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for expert paddlers. Class V paddlers must be adept at reading the river and adapting to ever-changing conditions, but there are certain techniques which can help you prepare for class V rapids.
The eskimo roll, or rolling, is an essential skill for class V paddling. Should you become capsized, the roll will allow you to right your boat rather than exiting into a dangerous swim situation. Class V rapids are turbulent and should you flip, your boat can become lodged against a rock or other obstacle. It is advisable to learn both an on-side and off-side roll. Many paddlers also choose to develop a hand roll, so they can right the boat and remain inside even if they lose their hold on their paddle.
Boofing is a term used to describe two similar but distinct techniques. The first is a type of launch off a drop, where you take an extra stroke as you go over the lip which propels you out away from the falling water, allowing you to land beyond an obstacle or powerful hole at the bottom. The landing of a boof drop is flatter with only a slight downward angle, meaning you stay shallow and resurface faster in the pool below the drop. The second technique is rock boofing, where you bounce yourself off the side or top of a low rock at the top of a drop in order to line up to a better landing spot.
While the idea of bracing is certainly useful at lower levels of whitewater, this critical skill can mean the difference between being upside down or right side up, and in turbulent class V whitewater, you want to avoid being upside down as much as possible. Bracing is a technique which allows you to catch yourself as you start to flip and quickly right the boat before you go over, or to preemptively brace against the water as you enter a feature which has flipping potential. A high brace is performed with the paddle's power face facing the water, and a low brace is performed with it facing away from the water. Both techniques are crucial in class V water, where you likely have no time to adjust paddle position before making your brace move.
Article Written By Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams has spent over 11 years working in the information technology, health care and outdoor recreation fields. He has over seven years of technical and educational writing experience, and has brought strong skills and passion to the Demand Studios team in articles for eHow and Trails in 2009.