Formal instruction aside, whitewater paddlers round out their skills with informal advice from peers and fellow paddlers. But not every well-intentioned nugget of wisdom is worth following. How can you decide what advice to take to heart—and what to leave at the put-in? We caught up with eight top pros for their picks on the worst whitewater myths.


8 of the worst whitewater myths, according to pros

“That you don’t need to learn certain basic skills because ‘you won’t need them.’ Learn to get in or out of your kayak in hard places, learn to hand roll well, practice surfing out of features, and learn how to catch harder eddies. Every bit of skill you add makes you safer on the water.”

— Dane Jackson

“If you can’t spit, you shouldn’t run it.”

— Benny Marr

man kayaks through churning whitewater and spray
Myth (noun): 1) An unfounded or false notion. 2) A colleague who regularly vanishes during office hours. As in, “Has anyone seen Billy? He is such a myth.” | Feature photo: Daniel Stewart
“Being a class which-ever-number paddler. There is no such thing as being a class V boater. Some days you can run class V, some days you can’t.”

— Nouria Newman

“Every myth is there for a reason. The dangerous part is how many people try to convince you something is a bad idea. At the end of the day, if you and the crew want to give it a try, then it’s worth going for.”

— Mike Dawson

“‘Waterfalls are easy; you just tuck up and fall off the thing!’ Waterfalls are the most dangerous discipline of kayaking. The tiniest mistake can be the difference between a perfect line and a broken back. I have unfortunately learned this lesson twice, and I am not keen on learning it again.”

— Brooke Hess

“That you are safer in a group. A group can also give you a feeling of safety which makes you either fuck up more or push harder than you should. You find out real fast where you stand if you go up ahead.”

— Mariann Saether

“The most dangerous myth is people think it’s a game for young people. I got into whitewater when I was 30 and, at 47, I am running class V consistently. Last year, I competed for my first time at both North Fork Championship and the Green Race. I have students who started kayaking in their 50s and students in their 70s who continue to run class III. It’s never too late.”

— Melissa DeMarie

[ Read more: 10 Things Only Whitewater Kayakers Understand ]

“‘You can only run it blind once.’ The statement might be true, but it’s dangerous. Don’t be ashamed to get out and scout.”

— Nick Troutman

This article was first published in the Early Summer 2022 issue of Paddling Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


Myth (noun): 1) An unfounded or false notion. 2) A colleague who regularly vanishes during office hours. As in, “Has anyone seen Billy? He is such a myth.” | Feature photo: Daniel Stewart

 

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