Bow Rudder Question....non-BCU related..

This is a follow up post to a previous one that I made a few weeks ago on this subject. This question pertains only to your personal preference and to what you feel works best, and what you feel is the best application in given conditions….this question has nothing to do with the BCU or ACA approved methods….

There are several ways that I have seen people do bow rudders. The two major variances being method one where the shaft is kept vertical, blade is fully submerged near the knee and top hand is just above the forehead. The second method has the shaft about about a 50 degree angle, blade inserted near the feet, top hand near the forehead.

I can do both methods. I learned the first method first and that is what I use most of the time and what I prefer under most conditions; however I find that the second method is effective as well. Perhaps better under certain conditions, although I have not yet put my finger on exactly why. Certainly it is better in shallow water/weed beds, etc.

I am wondering which method you use, and if you do both under what conditions you find one better than the other.

Much of kayaking is about personal preference and perhaps this stroke is just a matter of taste, but perhaps there are factors that I have not considered.



I use the second with 50 degrees…
I use a bow rudder mostly in tight places like in the mangroves where the paddle can get hung up. With the angle the other blade is closer in and less likely to get hung up on a branch.

Blade placement depends
on the radius of the turn I want to make, so it will go in anywhere from my shins to my thighs. My off water hand position is near my face but my off water elbow is always kept close to my body (safer position). In am always using bow rudders in combination with hanging draws, draws on the move, stern rudders and stern prys in rock gardens. To be most effective these strokes flow from one to another to have the boat carve smoothly through the rocks… well most of the time. When you don’t execute the stokes as well as you should have the gel coat you leave on the rocks will give you immediate feedback.

is the…
blade buried forward of the cockpit?

Is the body balanced and rotated towards the turn?

Is the boat turning effeciently?

personally I use a cross bow rudder wayyyy more than a bow rudder. Look at the anotomics of it. x-bow is waayyyy less stressful on joints/ shoulders/etc.


Good points…
If it’s safe, efficient, and effective, then it’s right for you!

As a general principle, the more blade you have working for you, the more power/draw you get, which is why I use a very vertical shaft, with the blade fully submerged and closer to the cockpit.

To get the maximum out of this, however, you need to use a fairly aggressive edge…this will lift more of the bow out of the water, changing the pivot point for the turn. In other words, if you “shorten” your kayak’s waterline by edging, then you move the effective bow (the part still in the water) of the boat closer to the cockpit.

–Mark Pecot

A cross bow rudder definitely locks your body in but for me, I like the flexibility of the standard bow rudder in that it is easier to link with other strokes (ex. modified bow draw to bow draw to forward stroke on the same side to catch eddies) and your blades are in more natural positions to brace from. I do like the cross bow rudder to give me a good stretch and when attempting (and failing) moves such as the Phonics Monkey, a cross bow rudder is definitely needed. :slight_smile:

Steve, when you’re paddling in bigger conditions where bracing is more likely, do you still prefer the cross bow rudder?

70 degree - blade near shin - :wink:

I heard
that 43.5% of statistics are made up on the spot.

on the move. when it feel ‘right’ I use a X-bow. It also transists well to a low brace, using the other blade.

but yes the standard bow-rudder leads right into so many other strokes/ moves.


I prefer the vertical shaft
I have 2 main reasons…

first, I don’t like the paddle shaft next to my neck. Getting into this position feels more awkward for me and doesn’t ‘flow’ as nicely into other strokes.

second, I like being able to adjust the blade angle (not shaft angle) by rotating my wrists slightly. Using the 50-degree (or whatever) method I feel like I have to pull the blade in to adjust the blade angle. This requires more force which I don’t like.

so many variations
the way i see it, i do it all sorts of different ways. various shaft angles and blade pitch, sometimes all in the same maneuver. the more vertical the shaft, the greater the bracing effect of course. i guess i do have a preference for upper hand to be over the head around the shoulder. after a while all these strokes seem to lose their specificity and turn into a blended coordinated series of movements to maximize their desired effect. i pay no attention to specific form architecture, unless i’m teaching.

Vertical Shaft
As I mentioend earlier I prefer the vertical shaft most of the time.

I agree with the above post about being able to fine tune blade angle. For me it allows for a more precise turn when turning into small spaces. I also find it good to hang off of when edging deeply to assist the turn. I find it has more leverage for turning into the wind on a really windy day, and I find it puts less stress on my body. I also like the fact that it blends well into a side slip and into a forward stroke.

With the angled shaft I feel some tensmion on my tendons in my upper foreard and lower bicep while trying to hold the blade in position.

Again though, there may be aspects to the other method that I have not yet discovered.


Confusion of terminology
I hesitate to raise this and restrained myself in the previous postings. But, If you are moving forward, then you are talking about a bow draw. Probably a slightly open static bow draw. If you are moving backward you are talking about a bow rudder. Which do you mean?

i hear you. it is indeed called the bow rudder, going forward, but to me it makes way more sense to call it a running bow draw, but i don’t name the strokes…

if it’s not BCU sanctioned
I don’t want to hear about it

'vertical duffek’
That was the first name I heard for the maneuver.

bow rudder
I use it to turn my Tempest 170 into the wind when its blowing hard and the seas are choppy and the boat empty—the bow tends to catch the wind in those conditions and pin the boat to leeward—forward sweeps followed by a combination bow rudder/forward stroke on the opposite side will turn the bow to windward.