Paddling upstream or attaining is a great way to build strength and stamina while honing paddle technique. It’s an intergral part of my sup training regiment. Deep class 1 and 2 whitewater rapids are optimal enabling a proper forward stroke with maximum pull. A smart paddler will use the eddys behind rocks and calm spots along the bank to advance up river. Many of the local rivers have good sections for this type of workout. It’s a way to paddle hard and get water time without having to run a long stretch of river.
Attaining amplifies angle in the current due to upstream movement. You may use 12 o’clock to the current for going forward or 11 to 1 o’clock to cross current and attain to a target eddy. Building momentum is key in attaining. charge out of eddys to cross the current to the next target eddy. Always keep the upstream edge up when crossing current, this allows the leading edge to be free of water tension and not engage. Look where you want to go!
The most important piece of gear for attaining is a good paddle that will not be affected by hitting rocks and will hold up to pushing of the bottom in shallow spots. I like the Werner fiberglass sup paddles for this, they are nearly indestructible and the scoop blade makes for a powerful stroke. Secondly, a good, long board that is plastic or inflatable is recommended as it will not be affected when the board comes in contact with boulders and rocks in the river. The Bic Dura Tech series which is blow molded plastic is my choice,I prefer hard boards for this. Hala, C4 Waterman and Corran Sup all make inflatables that are long and geared more toward touring and racing, these also make good attaining craft. Sunglasses with uv protection are good for sunny days and make it easier to see rocks and other underwater obstacles.
The section of river can be miles long or just a slow moving area between rapids, if it’s a shorter section loops are good, this entails paddling back downstream after attaining up. Remember to always look forward where you are heading and not down at the board. Start doing attainments regularly and you will be amazed at the results. The downstream paddle can be focused on forward stroke maintenance or some other paddle fundamental.
Remember to always look forward where you are heading and not down at the board. Start doing attainments regularly and you will be amazed at the results.