How to boof!

How to boof!

The boof stroke is probably the coolest and most useful whitewater kayaking stroke you can learn. It will keep you high and dry; boosting your way out of drops and holes. This ability will allow you to move from grade 3 to grade 4, safely. The sheer joy of flying through the air and skimming out of a drop is hard to describe. Instead, let me try and teach you this wondrous stroke so that you can do it ya-self! – make sure you check out the pictures and demonstration video below!

3 simple steps to nailing the boof!


1. Set up

– Place your blade in the water at the front of your kayak

– Make sure your stroke is vertical. Your top hand should be level or above your forehead (this gives your stroke more power and your body more space to move)

– Look through your arms so you can see where you are going. This is your boofing window

– Get your boat on edge if the drop allows it. The water needs to be deep enough, so your edge doesn’t catch the riverbed. Edging will allow your body to wind up, thus getting more power out of the movement.

– Time your stroke, so it is not taken too early or too late. Take your stroke at the highest point of the feature, unless the lip requires a late boof (e.g. a sloping drop).


2. Taking the stroke

– Pull on the blade starting from your bow and finishing just behind your hips. At the same time thrust your hips forward, which will bring your body upright or leaning back slightly.

– Now bring your body forward again. Doing so will lift your knees towards your chest, bringing the bow of the kayak up.

– Transition your kayak from the edge you started on to either neutral (flat) or to the opposite edge if you are boofing into an eddy.


3. How to Land

– Hold your paddle either across your boat in a balanced position, ready to support on either side when landing. Alternatively, have your stroke ready on the opposite side you boofed on, ready to pull yourself forward on landing (some drops/holes are sticky and require extra measures to prevent being sucked back in).

– If you fear a hard landing, you can tuck your head to the side, lean forward and have your forearm in front of your head, acting as a buffer between your head and the bow of your kayak.

– If your kayak is too flat, you can lean back before landing to bring your bow back down. Then on landing push your hips forward and bring your body forward to stomp your kayak out of the drop. Doing this will mean that your bow takes most of the impact rather than your back and will scoop your kayak out of the drop (maintaining your speed). It is a good idea to land high drops (4m and higher) with your bow angled down between 15-45 degrees.

– Once you have landed, keep an active blade in the water for stability and to keep your kayak tracking away from the hydraulic.

How to practice boofing on the river

For power and timing
Practice boofing at the top of a wave. If you time the stroke right your kayak should launch out and land in the trough behind the wave. If you hear a smacking sound as your boat reconnects with the water, then you are doing it right!

For edge transition
Practice boofing into steep eddies. Doing so will not only get you slick at controlling your edges but also at holding and timing your stroke.

For control in the air
For this, you need to find a drop!  Start with an easy drop between 1 and 3 metres. Remember to come into the drop relaxed and focused. The only way to learn how to control your body in the air is airtime – so get flying!

Different types of boofs (watch the video)

Shallow lips 

– No edge required here, so keep ya boat flat when taking the stroke. If you try and edge, your kayak will hit the riverbed – not good!

– Grab the lip/edge of the drop with your paddle and pull. Don’t take a deep stroke here as you will just hit rock

– Pull your knees to your chest, lifting your bow

– Stomp nose down if necessary


– Paddle hard up onto the edge of the rock, sliding up its face and using the lift to fly out from the drop

Low, deep and sticky drops 

– Deep vertical stroke

– Edging onto stroke can help

– Usually a late boof; don’t pull on stroke until you see your landing


Landing from highish drops (3-10m)

– Time stroke appropriately to shape of the drop (i.e. vertical or sloping lip)

– Flatten kayak out, so you are flat in the air

– Pull knees to chest, bringing the bow up

– Stomp nose down on landing if the drop is high, or doesn’t have a lot of whitewater at the bottom (landing completely flat can injure your back)

– Land with a bent spine

– Have paddle stroke ready for stability

– Tuck your paddle tightly to the side of your kayak if you are worried about your shoulders (optional)

– Turn your head to the side and have your forearm acting as a buffer between your boat and head (to prevent smacking head on your deck on hard landings)



– Maintain speed

– Reach over with next stroke to pull yourself through the hole

– Keep your weight forward to prevent back-looping


Boofing a lateral with a sweep stroke

– Sweep the bow of your kayak up over the lateral and have your opposite blade ready to pull you through 



– Avoid hacking down in the water; you will expend all the strokes energy

– Try not to take “panic strokes” before taking a boof stroke; it will mess up your timing.

– Scout the feature, so you can use the correct style of boofing (check the video)

– Keep your boofing blade in the water behind you for extra propulsion and stability while in the air

– Try to come into your boof from a bow-draw or hanging-stern-draw. Doing so will teach you to combine your strokes, making you a smoother & more energy efficient paddler. Also, it will allow you to control your kayaks angle while coming into the boof, plus your blade will already be in the water generating energy.

– Land with a bent spine and with your kayak at an angle (approx. 45 degrees), so that your back doesn’t take the impact.

Ways to learn – or get better at – boofing

– Take a lesson with me! 🙂 (

– Paddle with people who are better than you and that know how to boof

– Go kayaking more


Thanks for reading, I hope it helped!

Catch you on the water.

– Tomas Hansson

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