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How to Ferry SUP Across River Current

Ferrying is a technique we use to cross the river, without losing ground or proceeding downstream. When performing a river ferry, you move laterally across the river, using the oncoming current to maneuver yourself sideways. This is a basic, yet critical, skill to learn for stand-up paddling in the river. This technique will give the paddler the ability to avoid dangerous obstacles downstream or help catch a river wave.

To perform a river ferry, you will have to learn to control and maneuver your board using the oncoming current. First, you'll need to set your ferry angle. As you paddle out of the eddy into the swift moving current, it's important to turn the nose of your board so it is pointed upstream, towards the opposite side of the river. Now, set and maintain a proper ferry angle, before exiting the eddy. This is generally about 45 degrees. But in stronger currents, you'll need to point that nose even farther upstream. If the nose of your board is at too much of an angle, the current will grab the nose of your board and instantly turn you downstream. So, set your angle and use correctional strokes to keep yourself going in the right direction.

Next, as you cross the eddy line, pay special attention to the edges of your board. As you paddle into the current, you want to have slightly more weight on the downstream rail. That way, the upstream edge will be lifted slightly out of the water, letting the oncoming current flow underneath your board, instead of catching your edge and flipping you over.

So, remember, set your ferry angle at about 45 degrees. Get your speed up as you exit the eddy, tilt the rail of your board downstream and always look where you want to go. Be sure to maintain your ferry angle across the river, using correctional strokes.

We recommend practicing the river ferry in calmer moving waters, before attempting in a swifter current. Stay tuned for more river SUP tips. Be safe and have fun.

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