Bow draw vs. bow rudder

What is the difference technique-wise between the bow draw and the bow rudder? Are there any youtube videos anyone recommends that show this? Thanks ahead of time.

The bow draw is active
you draw the boat to the paddle.

The bow rudder is a static stroke.

A one second search on You Tube found this

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aren’t they the same?
What I do and call a bow rudder is a bow draw. If I’m paddling backwards I do a bow pry. Then there is the cross bow rudder, which is also a bow draw. I don’t use that regularly like the others though. But they’re all considered bow rudders to my knowledge. Just like a stern draw and stern pry are both stern rudder strokes.

Maybe others have different interpretations.

My take
Some might use both terms to refer to the same stroke. To me the bow rudder suggests a static stroke placement whereas the bow draw may be active or static.

There is also the Duffek stroke done in the bow quadrants of a solo boat or by the bow paddler in a tandem which suggest to me a stroke with a more vertical paddle shaft angle.

Bow rudder is when you set the blade
Out in front at an angle to turn the bow toward the blade. A bow draw is a draw stroke made near the bow to turn the bow to the side the stroke is done.

What castoff says
That’s what I learned as bow draw vs bow ruddy in a moving water course.

I think I see what you guys are saying.
A bow rudder the distance between the paddle blade and the hull wouldn’t change. This could still be referred to as a bow draw. But a bow draw could also start wider and draw the hull and paddle blade closer together. So in that sense, I sometimes use a bow rudder using the momentum of my hull, and to get that last quick amount of turn as momentum slows, I’ll slice the blade outwards from the bow and then draw them together with an active bow draw to finish.

You can make a bow turn more
radical by combining the two. They are both used in canoeing BTW… and they are distinctly different strokes. Usually the bow rudder is referred to as a hanging draw or part of an axle in FreeStyle.(canoeing)

But back to your question. You can start a turn by sweeping on one side…doing a bow rudder on the other side. The boat may tend to drift off away from the paddle. That is actually good. As you lose momentum do an active bow draw.

Especially spinny when you edge the boat away from the turn.

the edging is different
Yes, I noticed the edging is opposite between the whitewater kayak in the video, and what I do in a sea kayak. I imagine what’s done in a long canoe would be more similar to a sea kayak. I use the pressure against the face of the blade for support to edge my sea kayak away from the paddle.

The outside edging is for a carved
turn. Hydrodynamics are a little different whether you edge the turn side of the kayak or the outside edge.

Carved turns are a little faster.

WW kayaks usually don’t have to worry about making faster turns. Some has to do with the block coefficient. Long finer ends boats track better than gumdrop boats. So you have to use techniques that make your long boat want to turn.

Kayaks and canoes both obey the same laws of hydrodynamics.

Active vs. static strokes. Jabberwock.
Ah, wilderness. Ah, paddling. Ah, terminology.

Short answer: I agree that the best use of terminology is that the bow draw is an active stroke while the bow rudder is a static stroke.

Technique differences: For the bow draw, the blade edge is inserted parallel to the direction of travel and pulled toward the bow. For the bow rudder, the blade is inserted at an open face angle to the direction of travel and held in position.

Difference in effect: The bow draw will not slow the forward velocity of the hull; there is no braking effect. The bow rudder will slow forward velocity.

Whether slowing forward velocity is desirable or not depends on the situation.

  • If you are approaching an obstacle in whitewater, you may want to slow down forward velocity with the bow rudder as you adjust the bow on-side.

  • You also will probably want to slow velocity if you intend to do an on-side pivot turn (in which case the bow rudder is often called a “turning draw” or “Duffek”).

  • If you are battling wind and waves on a lake and just want to alter the bow’s course to the on-side, you probably don’t want to slow your forward velocity, so it’s better to use a bow draw.

  • If you are racing, you don’t want to slow velocity, so on-side corrections are best done with a bow draw.

    Longer and more general answer: There are three paddle placement “sextants” on each side of the hull: the bow, amidships and stern sextants. In each of the six sextants there are four strokes – two active and two passive – to move the hull toward or away from the paddle side.

    The strokes in the amidships sextants will not change the direction of travel but will “sideslip” the hull parallel to the line of travel.

    The strokes in the bow and stern sextants will all turn the canoe away from the line of travel. Whether you turn the hull from the bow or stern sextants depends on the situation and what you are trying to accomplish.

    In whatever sextant (according to most writers), the active strokes to move the hull toward or away from the paddle are called, respectively, “draws” and “pries”. However, the static strokes are where most of the terminological confusion comes in – words such as “rudder”, “jam”, “wedge”, “Duffek”, and even “pry” and “draw” (with adjectival modifiers) are used to describe static strokes. I won’t bother with that bog here.

    Personally, I think it would be terminologically simpler if we just used four terms: “active draw”, “static draw”, “active pry” and “static pry” – along with specifying the sextant in which the stroke is being used. Thus an “off-side static bow pry” would have crystal clear meaning to me.

    But it’ll probably all remain Jabberwocky to many.

    Thankfully, you don’t have to know how to talk paddle lingo in order to paddle well. With paddling – to mix metaphors – it’s better to learn how to walk the walk than to talk the talk.

Your first 5-6 paragraphs nailed it. I thought to respond but you covered it for most paddlers. After my intro reading I kept going, an enjoyed the interesting further exploration. Thanks


– Last Updated: Aug-21-13 7:32 PM EST –

a bow rudder only works if you are moving forward, the paddle is placed on the side you want to turn to and angled out from the hull of the boat. A bow draw involves putting the paddle in the water maybe a foot or two from the hull and "drawing" it into the hull and can be used when there is no forward motion.

After a while
all these strokes we all learn just start to blend together and it really is just a matter of putting the paddle in the water and doing what needs to be done to make the boat move in the desired direction.

that was a really good post.

especially to music! NM

As I grew into WW canoeing, I did so with minimal formal instruction - perhaps a mistake, but that’s my story.

As I became more experienced, I became self aware of the fact you can combine/merge strokes. One that I still use today is a bow rudder or draw (situationally dependent), then slide into a short power stroke, and then a sweep if needed. And since I have little formal training, this actually might be a move with a name.

And self discovering techniques like that is one of the beautiful things about paddling.

Glad you take the time
To write your responses Glenn. I know this stuff, but just post the minimum unless asking a question most of the time. Thanks for taking the time. I too learned to paddle without training, but also read the more formal stuff latter in books. Paddling can be a prue pleasure as many here already know.

I appreciate that, Castoff
Like many others here, I do try to take my time to think through and compose detailed answers to some questions.

The downside is that I sometimes paddle the keyboard more than the water these days.

blending, agree
I may often start with say a bow rudder or hanging draw but then move my blade a bit forward or back, change the angle and maybe do more draw to finesse what I need to do . Anyone practicing these strokes really needs to experiment with various placements, angles and movements and not get too hung up on one very specific named stroke.