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Discussion Starter #1
On a commercial trip with multiple boats, where in the order of boats is the best position for the trip leader?
 

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Are you a guide who is wondering if the TL did something wrong?

My answer is: it depends. On most of the commercial trips I do, the TL is usually the point or sweep boat.
 

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Kinda depends on your crew: in the past, when I've TLed, I preferred to be lead with a strong guide behind me, weakest behind that guide and have my next strongest guide as sweep.

Depends on the river too- as the stakes go up, the TL's grasp on the trip needs to tighten up too.
 

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I find it ideal to TL from the middle as long as there is enough experience on the trip. It allows you to see every one. Which is exactly what you need, to do your job, be the "big picture" person when there are issues.
 

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mania said:
the TL should lead so he/she can decide when to stop or set safety.
A TL should have the ability to stop the trip from anywhere in the group if the others are even marginally competent.
 

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I find it ideal to TL from the middle as long as there is enough experience on the trip. It allows you to see every one. Which is exactly what you need, to do your job, be the "big picture" person when there are issues.

Come boat Marsh Creek with me sometime and you might change your mind. Depends on the river.

I personally think it would be rather hard to lead from the middle. I usually run the heaviest boat too and if I can make the eddy, then everyone else should be able to as well. As the most experienced you are in the best position to evaluate those kind of split second decisions and execute them from the front.
 

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Im no giude by any means however; leading a group in situations that have consequences I do have experience in. Leading from the front is good at times but it can create problems if the the leader gets smacked. If the group has a young but experienced member put him or her on point. Leader in the middle and your clutch "problem fixer" in the rear. Leading is leading no matter what you are doing in my opinion. If nobody knows what they are doing the obvious answer is show them (lead the way). If you got experience on the trip set it up to where you can see the "big picture".....my 2 cents
 

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I typically TL from the front on the crucial parts of the river. It allows me to eddy out were needed and helps keep the group together and with timing so we hit the BBQ lunch at just the right time or get to camp. On less critical areas on the river I don't care who is in front. It allows other guide to get in the habit of reading the water rather than following the TL and gets them more prepared for being TL in the future.

If it is a stretch of river where everyone is comfortable and knows the drill (which eddies to stop in, which rapids to set safety at, etc) then I can relax and just make sure we keep moving.
 

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More often then not when I am Trip Leading, whether is it here on the Arkansas or back east on the Penobscot for Kennebec, I would TL from the sweep position. I choose this method so that I can push my trip along at a reasonable pace. My lead boater is typically the 2nd strongest boater on the trip, and my rookies are usually sandwiched between other 2nd and 3rd year guides.

That logic does change however if my trip is made up of mostly first year guides or weaker boaters. With this I take over the lead boat position to be in a better position to "lead" my guides down the river.

Stomping high volume, I switch it up based on the crews on the trip and the guide staff that I have on hand for the trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the input, feel there is good agreement towards the front especially in more challenging waters. We're having a discussion at the boathouse and looking for outside opinions.
 

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Some interesting ideas here and I'm pretty sure the correct answer is, 'it depends.'

There is a reason the guy in the front is called the 'lead' boat, but being the TL can also mean tons of different things. In my experience it doesn't matter where the TL is but he/she is going to be the one designating who should be where and what they should be doing. Whether that's the order of the boats, where to set safety etc.

Experience with each other and the general level of experience in the group are key factors. If everyone is experienced enough to know their role depending on where they are in the order of boats, than it doesn't matter who's in front and who's in back. Whoever's in the front takes on the role of lead boat, deciding where to eddy, boat scout, shore scout, set safety etc, and always looking back to make sure the group is with them/thinking ahead to be on top of their game for whatever is coming up. Whoever is running sweep is being a little more prudent with their lines, keeping an eye on the 'big picture' and knowing that there ain't nobody behind them to clean up their sh!t.

The TL is the guy/gal relaying this beta to you on the bus ride up the canyon, carrying the clipboard and hopefully getting you better tips by giving a pee in your wetsuit funny paddle talk.
 

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I bank on getting $5 less to not TL so I don't have to bark orders and deal with all the gapers while some other guide can feel rad b/c he or she is TL'ing.
 

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TL in the front with the less experienced guys in the middle and a good sweep guide. If you lose a customer in big water you need strong boaters to pick them up unless it's a drop pool river. If a customer swims out in front of the lead boat you'll never catch them and hopefully they listened on which side of the river to swim!
 

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On a commercial trip with multiple boats, where in the order of boats is the best position for the trip leader?
Most TL's prefer running first with multiple boats and 15-30 customers, for a very good reason the least amount of work. When you hit camp you just untie the heavy grill box, heavy coolers, water jugs etc. and allow the customers to unload everything up to camp. Then as planed in advanced when all the heavy stuff is unloaded the last cargo boat with the first aid kit and repair kit and customers bags shows up. If they get their bags first, they will scatter into the wind never to be seen again, till dinner. Then with all the heavy work done all the guides can have a cold one or what ever.
 

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On most of our floats the TL is just the manager of the trip. The LT will appoint a boat for lead and sweep. The TL just keeps things together and NOT responsible for micro managing the day to day activities. Usually we put kayakers up front and gear boats in back. if possible
 

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I'm usually the TL. I appoint one of my best boaters (with rescue, EMT, PA experience) to run first. He usually EITHER does the All clear, provides guidance (which way to run, hidden obstacles) or flat out pulls over before the rapid if it requires scouting. He also pulls out at the end of a technical run to assist with rope toss etc.

Hes a take command kind of guy and i outfit him with a nimble unloaded cat so he can do his job without being encumbered by a heavy boat
 

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Strongest guides lead and sweep and the rookies/badly hung over guides in the middle:) I think having a rookie lead would be very problematic esp if a flip/swim occurs, strainer is blocking river, wrapped boat in the channel etc.
 

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If the TL is carrying the master first aid kit, then I prefer to be the sweep. If the major first aid kit with communication is infront of the accident, getting back to that scene can be difficult and time consuming. Just another aspect and my thoughts.
 

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I was thinking multi day trips and for the wilderness Idaho rivers that I run, it's the most experienced in the lead, sweep has major medical and the pin kit and is typically the 2nd strongest, most experienced or has the best med credential.

We always sandwich around the paddle boats and IKs since they are far more likely to swim.

Did I misunderstand?
 
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