River Running Basics on a SUP

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Standup paddling on the river is an incredibly fun and different way to experience the sport. It is however a very different beast compared to flatwater and ocean paddling. If you’re testing the waters and interested in getting into river running you’ll need to learn the basics which include the peel out, eddy turn and ferry. Here, expert whitewater paddler Mike Tavares breaks these basics down. Check it out:

Learning how to peel out, eddy turn, and ferry are the basics to getting you more comfortable on the water.

Peel out

Peel out is how you get to the shore (from the eddy) to the main current of the river. In order to do this you’ll need to:

  1. Position yourself in the center of the eddy. The center of the eddy is the least turbulent spot so it will set you up for a less turbulent entry.
  2. Paddle in at a 45 degree angle. If you consider 12 o’clock to be upstream think about positioning the nose of your board towards the 2 o’clock angle.
  3. Lean Downstream. When you’re crossing the eddy line (the most turbulent part of the peel out) paddle on your downstream side and lean with your bodyweight downstream. This lets the current hit underneath the board and should then shift the direction of your board to face downstream.

Eddy Turn + Peel Out

The eddy turn is how you’re going to stop or catch an eddy safely to the shore of the river. To get out you’re essentially going to reverse exactly what you did in the peel out to get back into the eddy.

  1. Position your angle to roughly 45 degrees. The reason we do this angle is because it allows us to slice across the eddy line with the least amount of turbulence.
  2. Pick up speed. Speed is important. It allows you to bust your way across the eddy line.
  3. Lean upstream. Lean upstream while paddling and the water will do the work for you in changing your direction, getting you into the safe and calm waters of the eddy.


A ferry is what you’re going to want to do when you want to get across the river. The set up for a peel out and ferry are pretty similar.

  1. Pick up speed. Paddle and pick up your speed towards the main current and the eddy line.
  2. Keep a high upstream angle. If 12 o’clock is upstream you’re going to want to aim towards 1 o’clock angle and that is going to move you laterally across the river to ensure you don’t move downstream.

Note: slight leaning towards downstream and paddle on your downstream side so you counter-act that board and keep your angle facing upstream.

Learn more from Mike Tavares on his Website.

Last modified onFriday, 23 September 2022 11:59
Mike Tavares

USA - Mike Tavares is the ultimate river expert. As a modern-day nomad, Mike travels throughout the North American Continent with his side-kick Shred-dog and they explore rivers and lakes at every chance they get. Mike has the knowledge and expertise of a river master that can only be obtained by years and years of experience.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/rivershred?fref=ts Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.