Whitewater can seem chaotic and hard to understand when you first tackle it. But with a little practice, reading whitewater will become second nature.
The video below introduces 5 things you need to look for when learning to read whitewater.
Current is where water is flowing downstream. It usually creates a downstream V. Current will always flow in a straight line until it hits an obstacle. It will always be the strongest on the outside of a turn.
Eddys form on the downstream side of obstacles. This is where water can be shielded from the force of the main current, but they are moving water. The flow of the water will be toward the object that created it. Eddys can be broken down into three zones.
In the middle of an eddy is the standing part. This is where the water is the calmest. You can stay in this area with only a few paddle strokes.
The second zone is the draining part of the eddy. This is the downstream end of the eddy where the water is going back into the current. Here, you need to paddle in order to stay in the eddy.
The third zone is the filling part. Here, the current is flowing back toward the obstacle that created it. This part will pull you back into the obstacle or back into the main current.
The eddyline is the swirly water where the current and eddys meet. The are narrowest at the upstream point where they begin and widest at the downstream part where the eddy ends.
The waves are most often formed by current slamming into and slowing down by downstream water. They can come in many shapes, and a lot of waves will also mimic holes.
Holes are formed when water flows over a ledge or rock. The water is forced downwards and the water on the surface of the obstacle downstream is forced to flow back upstream into the whole. This creates a strong recirculating current.
For more detailed information, watch the video above.