Dane Jackson is back at it turning heads and raising eyebrows, this time wowing his 350,000-plus Instagram followers with the world’s first Cobra Flip off Scott’s drop on the Royal Gorge section of the North Fork of the American in California. Not that we recommend such a feat — or even running the drop, unless you’re a serious Class V boater — but we caught up with him for his take on what many are calling the rowdiest freestyle move ever performed in a Class V rapid…
“That’s up there with the stoutest things I have ever done.”
Paddling Life: How long have you been thinking about doing it?
Dane: I feel like it’s been on my mind since even before I ran it for the first time in 2021. Though in the end ever since that first lap it was always on the back of my mind, and I have been thinking harder on it for the last year especially.
Paddling Life: How many times have you run that drop?
Dane: This was only my second time running it; I had only run it once before in 2021 for my first Flush.
Paddling Life: Were you nervous?
Dane: I mean it was definitely the scariest thing I have thrown in a long time—so many different variables combined on top of the fact of how stout that sequence is. I went back and forth in my mind so heavily for the few weeks beforehand and especially the night before at camp. So, I was definitely scared but I knew it was something I really wanted to do, so I was focused more on how to pull it off.
Paddling Life: What were the keys to that?
Dane: There are lots of weird things that can happen going for a Cobra Flip in general, lots of things to come together at the right moment. The biggest factor was trying to figure out exactly how to handle the lip. Whether or not to aim for getting out and away from the drop, or boof onto the curler, turn, then throw under the boat. Eventually, I decided the best way to handle it was going to be focusing less on getting out and away from the drop, which in the past on other drops sometimes makes it harder to complete with less water to pull on. Instead, focus on more commitment with the flow and on best chances of completing the rotation rather than that “dreamy” massive airtime trick I’d often envision. Once I decided that, I felt better about how to pull it off.
Paddling Life: What you most afraid of going wrong?
Dane: In the end the scariest thing for me was mis-timing it and landing on my head, potentially ejecting me, blowing my skirt, or breaking my paddle.
Paddling Life: Is that one of the hardest/most consequential waterfall moves you’ve done?
Dane: That is up there with the stoutest things I have ever done. When I’m doing something like running a big waterfall or a big rapid, there are unknown variables as there always is with kayaking, but you can focus on the line itself. Whereas doing a Cobra Flip there are so many more factors like timing, lining up the right spot, no hesitation, and other factors that need to come together. Which made this one of the stoutest things I have done or ever will do. In the end it was as good as I could have imagined, and I am stoked to put it down as it’s been on my mind for a while.