We are in the midst of a second wave of downriver play revolution! Boats are getting slicey-er, moves are getting bolder, and more people are learning to tailee than ever before. But what is downriver play, where has it come from and where is it going?

Downriver play is really a sub-genre of whitewater culture. Often, downriver play involves using slicey boats to cartwheel, rockspin or splat on the way down the river, making the most of as many features as possible.

During the early 2000s, kayaks began to become more slicey and this popularised designs such as the Pyranha Prozone. These boats pioneered modern playboating moves like the pan-am and downriver play moves such as bullet rolls and mystery moves.

Downriver play is much more than just using slicey boats to do a set of traditional moves. The ethos of downriver play revolves around innovation and treating the river like a playground more than a way of getting from A to B.

More recently we have seen new-school slicey designs such as the Ozone, which takes a modern spin on old-school slice boats. The Ozone takes its hull design inspiration from the surf machines of the early 2000s such as the Inazone. What’s more, it takes the flare of a Prozone and adds the progressive rocker profile of more modern downriver boats.

It’s not only boat design that has progressed over the years. Hole moves, rock moves and downriver tricks have all come a long way since the pirouetting-paddle-spinning style of the 90s.

Today, we see the tailee and rock spin as a staple of downriver paddling. Moves such as the tomahawk, kickflip and freewheel have also made their debut in many peoples’ quiver of downriver moves.

With waterfall kayaking becoming more and more accessible due to advances in equipment and knowledge, there are also many new waterfall moves on the table.

The freewheel, pistol flip, hammer and cobra flip are all waterfall moves which have made waves in the whitewater scene in the past few years. In the future, we are likely to see more waterfall freestyle and the advancement of tricks such as the double tomahawk and new tricks like the orbit flip.

All of these new-school tricks are becoming more and more possible with new boat designs. The Firecracker is pushing the limits of what a kayak is capable of doing downriver and down drops.

Get out there and learn some new moves to spice up your time on the river! Downriver play can dramatically improve your paddling and is a great way of challenging yourself and developing skills.

If you don’t have a slicey boat or would like to try something new, be sure to head over to Mile End Mill to test out our range of Pyranha kayaks!

This blog was written by Alex, a multidisciplinary whitewater paddler, coach and team member who loves spending time on the water and having fun.

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