best way to learn a balance brace?

“A big body builder type will sink…
…like a stone.”

Thanks Jay, I now have my official excuse (since you didn’t specify “muscle” as the building material)!

I’m pretty close in my SOF
Too hot for Tuilik now or I think I’d have it. A local instructor was having trouble in it too though. Surprised us both as he’d balance braced it easily before my rebuild, which should have made it easier going lower volume, but it has less side to rest on now.

May not be working on it for a while though - waiting for a PT referral for the shoulder, which is improving but clearly not right after 10 days now …

thanks all…

i cannot wait to get out there and try it…

any idea of how a tempest can do it???Flatpick???

i am guessing though it would be VERY useful waiting for waves in my Mega…

thanks all


Take your time
It’s like riding a bike - once you have it you can’t remember what was so hard, but it can take some time getting there. Especially if you have already gotten a more physical scull, or can roll, it is real tough to just lay there and trust that you don’t have to do all that work. Your tendency will be to do something and move around rather than just keep balancing the boat away and enforcing the torso position, and tension or excess vertical movement will cause sinkage.

I hadn’t spent time learning about the Greenland stuff to realize that it is taught as a prep to a roll, which makes tremendously good sense. Once the balance brace is really solid, you can slide up on the back deck of a lower volume boat and essentially roll up without having to do “the roll” that left me so performance-anxious for so long. And you can get AIR.

I’ll have to do some reading…

tempest and balance brace.
hmmm. got it a few times with a Brooks Tuilik and a pfd under it, but that is not the boats fault.

When we all met at the beach a couple of weeks ago, Michael Arnett told me that I was sinking my shoulder instead of having it flat on the water, causing the boat to try and roll over on me. My on side balance brace is the left side and my left shoulder was angled downwards, making me strain my feet and legs to get the boat where I wanted it. I have since tried it in the OI and while not 100% successful yet, I can see where this will be doable consistently real soon.

The tempest should be the same.

What I am finding is that technique becomes much more important to be able to consistently do any of the moves in most boats. In my SOF, it is the easiest thing in the world to do a balance brace…such low volume that it is easy to not use good technique and get away with it. as you get to heavier and higher volume boats, your own poor form will become very very apparent. Kinda humbling the first time you do a balance brace and find yourself sculling up from a completely inverted position and losing it again and again because you are not set in the boat properly, or your shoulders (my case) are not set properly. It took a good instructor to see what I was doing to help me correct it.

Now if I can just find a cheap chiropractor, I’m in business.


Very Hard To Do It In A Mega
the flat hull and inward angling sidewalls work against a balance brace. Surf boats want to be right side up, or upside down. You can, however, do a sculling brace utlizing the same body position as with a balance brace.


1 Like

Sinking shoulder

– Last Updated: Jun-02-06 9:46 AM EST –

My husband was and still at times has trouble with that - he's normal and not half a prezel like I can be. We were able to fix that in the Romany by just changing the hand positions so that the outward hand on the paddle was palm-down, and the rear hand under the boat was palm up. This dropped the shoulders flatter so gets the torso set right. His other boat is less friendly about this due to hull shape, so requires the boat be pushed further away and a more conscious arch in his back. I find the same with my Vela versus the Explorer LV. And sliding up on the back deck is similarly fussy with the non-Romany based hulls.

i was hoping to get somemore stability out of the thing while sitting waiting…the only way so far is if i drop that edge down into the water and turn it into a keel!!!

massive ab and hip workout…


Takes Time…
when I first got the Mega Venom, I thought the boat was tippy as all heck. After a dozen sessions or so, the boat felt more and more stable. Then I was able to jack the seat up an inch and it still felt solid. Now, After all the waveskiing, none of the surf boats come close to feeling tippy.


funny looks in the office
As I was reading your post I was extending my arms with the outboard hand palm down and the hand near the hull palm up and arching and some people passed by.

I didn’t bother to explain. But I think that will work!


Dog must wag the tail…
While it does help to think about your shoulders/arms, you can’t view them in isolation, of course. If my shoulder is out of position, I would concentrate on my basic body and boat position. When that is right, all else follows without strain (like so many other techniques). Anything else is merely a “band-aid”. That means you need get your back as flat on the water as possible. You can do that by either torso rotation and/or by shifting about in the cockpit so that you are sitting somewhat on the side of the seat.

A common problem that I see is that people attempt a side-scull or balance brace by trying to layback on the aft deck or stay very close to the aft deck of the kayak. Instead, view the picture of Maligiaq at and note how far away from the back deck his body is.

Greg Stamer

where are his legs
Hi Greg,

Question 1: Have seen that pic and always wonder where his legs have got to? I can’t imagine corkscrewing my 57 y/o body into that position even if I sat on the seat post. I think I’ve seen pics of you in a balance brace 45 degrees to the hull rather tha 90 degrees, which seems much more reasonable to me, and sometimes even works.

Q2: What do the “rules” say about palm down versus up? I was taught palm up. Same as for the butterfly roll. Does it matter or is it what works?

Q3: I’ve seen some folks hold the paddle parallel to the hull, and others up in the front quadrant? Does this matter, or again is it whatever is “static.”




Good questions. My responses follow.

Question 1: Have seen that pic and always wonder where his legs have got to?

Maligiaq is actually showing off by moving his torso fore and aft (shown in the video “Rolling with Maligiaq”), you don’t need to be bent at 90 degrees (but you don’t want to be laying on your back deck either). A key point to this technique is that as soon as your body hits the water, all pressure moves to your lower leg, which is extended fully into the footpeg. This helps you to rotate and get your back flat on the water. Your upper leg (furthest from the water) does nothing at this point. Mine doesn’t even touch the footbrace. I allow my upper leg to rest upon my lower leg to get all of my weight as close to the water as possible. A mental image that I tell students is to imagine that you are molten lead. Flow as close to the water as you can. Any body part held high above the water only serves to make this more difficult.

"Q2: What do the “rules” say about palm down versus up? I was taught palm up. Same as for the butterfly roll. Does it matter or is it what works? "

All aft-leaning (high brace) techniques, such as a Greenland side-scull, standard roll, etc, use palms-up, all forward leaning (low brace) use palms-down. This is not just dogma, it gives you maxixum flexibility. But unless you are competing, do what works. A side scull uses (or should use) the same mechanics as a standard roll. If you fail a standard roll, this lets you move right into a scull. For this reason, IMO, it doesn’t make sense to use different hand positions for each. These are really variations of the same basic technique, and is why I consider a side-scull to be a “keystone” technique. It opens the door to a lot of additional techniques that build upon it.

For competition, this only matters for a side-scull. A balance brace (no paddle) is not tested in competition.

Q3: I’ve seen some folks hold the paddle parallel to the hull, and others up in the front quadrant? Does this matter, or again is it whatever is “static.”

For a side scull (which is not entirely static), the paddle should follow the natural line of your shoulders, which usually puts the working blade it in the front quadrant. Usually if a paddle is at 90 degrees, then something is wrong with your boat/body position (not enough rotation, paddle held against the stomach instead of under the chin, etc).

Greg Stamer

Maligiaq’s position…
…closely resembles the full body rotation seen in an Olympic K1 paddler’s stroke where they twist to the point their shoulders are nearly parallel to the keel. Coincidentally (?), their butts are also shifting in the seat.

I never noticed this before. Maybe keeping this image will help me. I can’t really rotate like that either, but visualizing that may help me get my shoulders flatter and my torso out more perpendicular to get more leverage from what flotation I have…

Good fit really helps

– Last Updated: Jun-02-06 3:11 PM EST –

I think that one of the secondary reasons it is easier in my LV is that the thigh braces run further back, so I can do things like shift my posterior out an inch to get more rotation and I am still solidly set to hold the boat with that lower leg without having to exert a lot of conscious more force. And with the foam bulkhead blocks it is eaier to push the upper leg away from me while real rotated and still have contact with soemthing. In boats with footpegs, keeping the right push on that upper leg is maybe the most restrictive part of the position.

I am probably way oversimplifying this, but I don't find the lower leg position w/r to the thigh braces so different from where you want to be to kick off a C2C roll - near leg engaged and further one unengaged with the thigh brace. It's just that you are holding it statically and the upper body is rotated and splayed out at some useful angle on the water.

One significant difference between “Greenland” outfitting and “Euro” is that no hip pads are used for Greenland kayaks and most of the control is afforded by the masik (a low, arched beam just behind your knee caps). There is just enough slop built into the fit so that you can move around in the cockpit, and shift your whole body fore and aft, while still maintaining excellent control of the kayak.

Hip pads can sometimes make a side scull and balance brace more difficult because they keep your weight lifted high when you are leaning the kayak on its side. Ideally you want your weight as close to the water as possible for a side scull/balance brace. Of course, Greenland kayaks don’t need them because the kayak is tailor-fitted to your body. If you have a “one-size-fits-most” kayak then you certainly may need hip pads to keep from rattling around, but this is not ideal (at least from a Greenland technique perspective).

Greg Stamer

Depends on the Mega…
A balance brace and a surprising number of Greenland skills work fine my Mega Jester Storm, but that is a very different hull than yours – rounded, displacement, international class (similiar but much improved over a Sabre).

I need to get a newer design, although the storm has the hull-length for effective punching out through some of Florida’s dumping beach-break. I miss that when I play on my waveski.

Greg Stamer

BTW: are there any plans out there (or any info you can provide me with) about the balance boards you practice on???

not the round ones the long and thing ones that roll sideways???any dimensions???

i am feeling that i could definitly use the practice…

thanks greg


Side scull versus balance brace
Thanks Greg, You’re comments are really helpful and much appreciated. I can capsize and roll up into a sculling brace, settle down so that the brace is basically just a little pressure with the paddle, and then roll up onto the back deck. What I can’t yet do is move from the hardly moving scull to the balance brace or capasize into the balance brace with any reliability, but I think it will come with listenning to my body in the boat (an Outer Island). Best, John

OT… Mega Hulls

That must be an antique!

I remember asking Malcolm/Mega several years back whether the Jester Trident was a “displacement” hull because it was IC. Supposedly, from what I read about surf boats at the time, IC boats were supposed to replicate the old slalom (displacement) boats that folks started to surf with. Malcolm pretty much scoffed at me and said they’re all “planing hulls.” Boy, did I feel like a dunce. Anyway, it’s certainly more nuanced than the answer Malcolm gave.

Yup, the Cyclone and Trident can sure punch through the surf and catch waves earlier. But, I think I would pick up a Johnson Mako series before considering a new Mega IC. :wink: