Bad boat or bad technique? Let me know.

I recently got a new Dagger RPM. It keeps having the tendency to for the rear to spin and do a 180 no matter how much I try to correct for it. It is almost like the rear is faster than the front. Please let me know if this may be the kayak… or the kayaker.

All modern whitewater boats have “spin momentum” built into their designs. That means, they have a tendancy to spin once you stop paddling. The reason is that in whitewater, manueverability tends to be more crucial than forward speed. With time, you will learn to make micro adjustments in your stroke and you will be able to keep the boat going straight. Keep practicing and good luck!

hip (or butt) pressure too…
The hull is also designed to carve when on edge. As you become more in tune with keeping your lower body balanced (through your contact with the boat with your knees, hips and yes, butt), I think this also helps to keep your boat going straight (or not, if that’s what you want). Watch a really good paddler in a hole or on a surf wave, and you’ll see that they can move their boat around without touching the water with the paddle. That’s all coming from changes in boat edge that they control with their lower body. That’s why you need to “wear” the boat.

I am really only just starting to get the feel for this type of boat control (I’m a lousy surfer), but I noticed just this past weekend as I was running a rapid that I saw a rock, and I moved my body and steered around the rock, all without using the paddle. It was actually neat to see/feel it in action.

So as you improve both your stroke technique and your body position and posture, it will become easier to go straight. But, yeah, stop stroking and you’ll still have spin!


They gave the boat the right name!

Learn to do a stern draw.
A stern draw is the last half of a forward sweep stroke. It will move your stern back into place. Displacement hulled boats like the RPM are harder to correct once the spin starts and is why I don’t recommend them for people starting out. As said above, once you learn the micro adjustments in your stroke you will not often need the stern draw.

Other ideas
Not disagreeing with Dr_Disco, the RPM is a popular boat (it has been for a long time).

WW boats don’t go straight very well by design.

It’s possible that a more vertical stroke with the blade closer to the boat will help. Also, take the blade out earlier (at about your knees). Also, maybe try slowing your stroke down.

In my WW boat, I keep being told that I paddle like a sea kayaker and should be removing the paddle sooner than I’m used to.

Lots of good stuff in the guidlines too.
This is all you:

Also check your trim. Try leaning
back more before you actually move the seat. “Old School” kayaks have a stronger tendency to come around the bow the way you describe if your weight is too much forward.

I notice this often because I am 6’ 5" with size 14++ feet. Most kayaks sit a bit down at the bow when I get those feet way into the boat with the bulkhead or footbraces in the forward position.

A lot of it will come with technique, but if your boat is too much down at the bow, the stern is going to want to come around.

All whitewater boats go backwards
Every creek and whitewater boat we have (all the way up to the Prijon Combi 359) will spin around backwards when the boat is moving faster than the current. Luckily for us we live in an area of the country where we have optimum conditions for testing this phenomenon.

My current theory is that the boats underwater center of mass is astern of the underwater lateral center of effort. This provides a longer lever arm to bow of the boat which then easily overcomes the low lateral turning resistance of these craft. Having the long lever arm forward makes for an unsteady state, I wonder if this adds to the responsiveness of these boats in the same way that new fighter aircraft are described as having unstable flight characteristics.

So don’t tell me how you’re cooler than me and your boat or you in my boat won’t turn around. :slight_smile: I got a big pile-o-boats and lots of flat water that confirms that they do. I’d really be interested in understanding this better in order to solve it – or at least deal with it.

Our current solutions:

Pyranha Master TG with drop skeg, this works great for my wife who is the most annoyed when going backward

Ugly hack to add skeg to whitewater boats- proof old hackers will hack anything for any reason

Constant small stokes with unnoticeable corrective strokes- effective but easily outpaces adults enjoying leisurely float enjoying refreshing adult beverages

Keser Asera – technique that involves learning to enjoy the opposite view (the one seen by bruce and cold) :wink: editor note spelling (ke sera sera) this has become our standard practice.

I would really like to understand the effect of boat trim on the relationship between center of mass and center of effort.

once you get used to how your boat
acts, it will be easier to make it go straight. This is one of the most frustrating things for beginners. In fact, it’s why a friend of mine gave up paddling before he even really got started.

The 2 pieces of advice I can give are:

  1. like already mentioned earlier, you’ll learn to incorporate small corrective strokes into your normal forward and sweep strokes. Some are more like draws, sometimes if you simply leave your paddle in the water longer, it helps to make corrections.
  2. don’t paddle like a muscle bound madman when you’re starting out. Just relax, remember your correct body positioning and paddle evenly and smoothly. Pick a ‘target’ and don’t take your eyes off it…and just aim and paddle for it.

    Make sure your boat is set up good. Make sure your seat or foot brace aren’t crooked. Make sure your hands are spaced evenly on the paddle about shoulder width apart. You’ll get it…it just comes with time.



It will spin out when you stop paddling
When you are paddling, try pushing with the opposite foot (left blade in water, push with right foot.)

It may seem counter intuitive, but to go straight you need to push with the same side foot as you are paddling on.

Going straight in a WW boat
As others have said the natural tendency of a WW boat is to turn (spin momentum). And the faster you go the more spin momentum there is. But, I paddle around my flatwater lake all season in a 6’6" playboat and never have a problem going straight. That says that with proper technique even a WW boat will go straight. There are two dimensions to going straight in a WW boat. The first is the tendency to veer in the first place. The second is the resistance to correction. A boat like the RPM, or most any displacement hull, is less likely to veer initially. But once it veers, good luck if you are a beginner. A planing hulled boat is more likely to veer initially but is really easy to correct. So which would you rather have? A boat that goes straight more easily but takes complete charge when it begins to veer? Or a boat that is easily sent into spin momentum but requires only a little bit of correction to go straight? For me that is a no brainer.

Right or Wrong
it works for me.

I can’t quarrel with that.
Definitely do what works for you. But in giving advice to others it is important to recognize that most people who should know would not agree.

You didn’t say whether the spinning occurs only in current or also in flatwater, only in wind or also on calm days, etc.

I sometimes paddle a Prijon Twister on flat water. It tracks decently on calm days. Any little bit of wind, and all bets are off.

I found that if the wind is making the boat want to spin around, it’s best to LET it spin around, even help it a tad with a brief stroke in the same direction as the spin. I end up facing the way I want with less effort than trying to fight the direction of the spin. Clockwise or counterclockwise: the result is the same if you finish the 360 degrees! Then just resume paddling forward. It’s kind of fun, actually.

I’m surprised nobody has pointed out…
…that most of us here have different boats for different uses. If you’re going to paddle some flatwater & some WW I’d augment the fleet. Even if you learn to paddle your RPM on flatwater it will still not be as enjoyable as having the “right tool for the job.”

(Just my humble opinion)

a short boat is great for learning to paddle straight. :slight_smile:

Last summer, got a kick out of paddling my itty bitty waveski across the lake in winds. Good practice. :slight_smile: