Photos by Leif Anderson
"Sweep the Leg" Cobra Kai Proverb
The sweep boof is an essential stroke in any creek paddlers repertoire. It enables the paddler to be moving in one direction and then to change direction while boofing at the same time.
The sweep stroke is not practiced enough, and just like any good move, whether it be on the mat in the All Valley Karate Tournament, or on a class V expedition, it begins with a little wax-on wax-off, and maybe some paint the fence. If the karate kid references aren't working, I'm saying you've got practice both your boof and your sweep stroke before you can master the sweep boof.
The sweep boof must also not be confused with the fade, and not the 90's hairstyle either. The fade is a boof where the English on the end of a vertical boof stroke tweaks your trajectory slightly to accomplish a small change of direction. The sweep boof is a combination stroke that begins as a sweep at approximately 45 degrees and finishes as a boof at a near vertical stroke to change your trajectory more significantly.
The sweep boof can be used in a number of ways but there are two general scenarios we cover here. The first involves a situation where you are off line or have been pushed sideways above a drop you'd like to boof. In this case your sweep boof would be a corrective stroke to put you back in the direction you need to be going while keeping your nose up at the same time.
The second involves a drop which can only be approached from one direction but where you'd like to land facing a different direction. In this scenario the sweep boof is plan A and it allows you to make a technical move look easy. Whether you're correcting a mistake or using it for plan A, the sweep boof is executed the same way. Below is a short step by step with photos of Kyle McCucthen completing a nice corrective sweep boof, however they are not exactly a perfect sequence to display all of the actions. The descriptions will have to suffice for that.
2. Put as much of your blade in the water as you can, out near your toes, with a solid 45 degree angle.
3. Begin the sweep part of your stroke by moving your paddle in an arcing motion that will also grab a significant amount of water with your blade. You don't want your blade to cut through the water but you don't want the stroke to come straight back either. The stroke needs to be pulling water, while at the same time you're reaching out, away from your boat. Up until this point we're looking essentially at a classic sweep stroke which will turn your boat. This first part of your sweep needs be powerful because it is going to begin and also propel the motion which will turn your boat where you want to go.
4. As your reaching out pulling through your sweep, and your stroke is about opposite your knees, you need to begin to adjust your sweep into the boof it is going to become. You're going to do this by getting your torso over your blade and reaching your top hand out while pulling your bottom hand towards you. This motion is intended to make the stroke more vertical and to pull your blade back in close to your boat.
5. At this point your body and blade should look like they are about half way through a classic boof stroke. All you need to do now is finish the stroke as if it were such. Lift your knees up to your chest and continue your torso rotation to the side of your stroke, while pulling your blade back to your hips.
6. Finish by pulling your blade with as much water on it, up and out, with your body tucked forward, your top hand alongside your boat near your knees and your elbow bent, just out in front of your forehead in a classic tucked position.
The sweep boof is a stroke that isn't used very often but when you need it, it can be a beatdown savior. Practice this stroke by coming into a small drop sideways that you are comfortable running and where the beatdown potential is limited. You still want speed for this stroke so don't just float into it. As you come across the drop take your sweep boof and attempt to land the drop straight as you normally would. Enjoy. See you at the tournament!
- Sensei Stafford