With all the broken backs lately I thought I would make a post about running waterfalls, and doing it well. Back when my focus was on running waterfalls the group I was paddling with rarely ever got hurt. I attribute that to three things. Better fundamental paddling skills, better ability to read the water, and better judgment.
Obviously gravity determines that we will all make it to the bottom of the waterfall. The question is, will we do it with consistent style, or will we just make it to the bottom. If you are just making it to the bottom then it's luck that you didn't get hurt, and unlike skill, luck runs out.
These days I believe many paddlers are starting to run pretty big waterfalls without first mastering the rudiments of the sport. How much time have you spent working on having a good forward stroke? How are your skills at reading water? Can you tell me why the boils are coming up 30 feet downstream from the waterfall as appose to 10 feet downstream? Can you control your boat angle while in the air? Do you know how to consistently set your boat angle at the lip of the falls? These are just some of the basic skills that every paddler should have if they are considering running big (anything over 30 to 40 feet) waterfalls.
If you have mastered these and many other basic skills, great job. If you haven't and would prefer that your fate be determined less by luck and more by skill, I would suggest that you take more time to become a better paddler before throwing yourself off of waterfalls.
Good luck! Wait, now you shouldn't need it.