River Leadership: Position Of Maximum Usefulness

Just because you are the leader, it doesn’t mean you always have to be at the front. On easy water you may decide to let one of your group go first, to allow them to make their own decisions and develop their river reading skills (under your supervision of course).

It is usually easier to get to a swimmer from below, rather than chasing them down a rapid...

It is usually easier to get to a swimmer from below, rather than chasing them down a rapid… Photo: Dori Bjoss, Rjupnavellir. Ystri Ranga, South Iceland.

Most of the time, however, when we talk about position of maximum usefulness, we are referring to minimising risks again. If you are expecting a swimmer are you more useful at the back of the group where you will have to go a long way to chase them down, or below the group? How long will it take you to make your way back up a rapid to get to get to someone that is pinned? Do you need to be in your boat for each rapid, or would it actually be more useful in some instances to be out with a throwbag? Each rapid presents it’s own challenges and you need to pre-empt what may happen and use your own judgement to decide on where you would be best placed. Try to avoid the classic mistake of becoming hemmed in to an eddy by other boats, if it is you that will be the one chasing swimmers…

Position of maximum usefulness extends to rescue scenarios as well. If the other members of your group can be relied upon to perform, then do you need to be the one at the sharp end? The group will be looking to you, as the most experienced person and so perhaps you are better off placed on the bank organising a rescue, rather than being the one entering the water.


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