Cross bow rudder confusion

I’ve been playing with the sweep circle drill shown on this video:

The x-bow rudder comes into play in the third level, at 2:20.

I’ve been practicing that drill but have a question about the the position of the top hand. On my left linked x-bow stroke, my top hand is fine. On my right, if my top hand is in the correct position, I’m using the back face of the blade. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong or if it makes any difference which side of the blade you’re using so long as the turn continues. I can squiggle the paddle to change the face of the blade, but by that time my momentum is waning.

In a search for answers and more detailed videos of the x-bow rudder on the Internet, last night I hit on this blog/video:

Rainy today, so no chance to try this version but there’s a big difference between the two and I wonder if the cross deck bow rudder and the cross bow rudder as shown are just variations on a theme.

Thanks for any enlightenment

Like that Roger Schuman video!
OK, I went and grabbed my Euro paddle and sat on a stool to visualize the strokes. (On the water I use the bow rudder all the time, the cross bow rudder never but perhaps should.)

The paddle face is slightly open to the water (angled outward) with both bow rudders. The difference is only which edge of the blade, top or bottom, is the leading edge. With the bow rudder, it’s he bottom edge leading. With the cross bow rudder, it’s the top edge leading. In both strokes, that leading edge is turned slightly outward, or away, from you. That’s what gives the wee bit of resistance that turns the boat, especially if you’re edging.

Incidentally, I prefer Schuman’s bow rudder form with the paddle held vertically rather than rested on a shoulder as in Otaku’s video. If you have short arms, it’s much easier just to hold the paddle upright; much easier to control the angle.

Whew! Hope I’ve explained it right. Easier to do than to describe.

The bow rudder can be done easily with a GP, which is what I usually use. I haven’t tried a cross bow rudder with my GP but assume it would work fine.

Feather angle?
With the cross-bow rudder, the forward blade has its power face TOWARD the kayak. Same for either side. I am puzzled why this is not clear, unless you are using a high amount of feathering. It is pretty straightforward with zero feather.

BTW, I cringed when I heard the noticeable PLOP as he dropped the rescuee’s bow onto his kayak. But both boats are plastic.

Crack the whip

– Last Updated: May-28-16 12:39 PM EST –

I should add that I was taught the cross bow rudder in an ACA coastal kayaking instructor's class. I had never before seen it, though i'd heard of it. When I did my first one, that stroke snatched my kayak around so fast it scared me a little -- like playing crack the whip. I felt far less in control than with a straightforward bow rudder. Well, blade angle and degree of edging -- guess I could reduce both a bit! I'm not sure, though, that I will ever use the cross bow rudder in real life. A bow rudder does everything I want.

I cringed too, but . .
About picking up the upside-down bow instead of sliding a rightside-up bow onto his deck as if up a ramp. Schuman’s pickup looks like a dead lift to me and harder on the body. Maybe it’s an old-school technique? By 2006, when I was first learning assisted rescues, I was taught the slide-it-up-rightside-up method.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to hijack the thread. Sorry! Back to bow rudders!

He has some great instructional videos:

One of my favorite places to visit.

In his use of the cross-bow, he’s switching blade and arm position from a bow rudder. His paddle doesn’t cross over the bow of the boat.

The Otaku paddler does a half-hearted sweep then crosses over the bow to do the rudder.

Are these two separate strokes? A cross bow rudder and a cross deck bow rudder?

I’m curious because of this interesting old thread I found:

No feather.

– Last Updated: May-28-16 3:29 PM EST –

I've been doing Roger's version, linking from a bow rudder and not crossing the bow of the boat.

I did take my Werner outside and broke down each movement. Again, no problem with the left side. I might have too tight a grip when my right hand is the top hand, so later, when the lake lice and their rap music go away, I'll try it on the water keeping my right (top) hand open and see where the blade winds up.

Ginger, I have Roger's book, "Sea Kayak Rescue." He personally prefers the "King Kong" method of lifting the bow because it's quicker - and he has the muscle to do it. His wife prefers the drag (slide).

Older technique
I was taught to do it the way shown in the video but later instruction advised sliding the upright kayak instead. The latter is easier for me, too.

Yes, older tecnique
The upside down boat is an older tecnique. When I teach, I teach the right side up boat. It when I am teaching guides or advanced paddlers, we make sure they can do either way. Much faster to just lift and drain an upside down boat than to flip or get swimmer to flip. There are tricks to making it easier to lift so it isn’t like weight lifting, but right side up boat is easier.

Mental Gymnastics
It’s mental gymnastics to visualize this, so I put together the double-blade paddle that I haven’t used in ages (canoer here, remember?) and put this to the test.

I watched the first video (no feather in that video) and duplicated the maneuver, and here’s what you need to do, as I see it. When switching from bow rudder to cross-bow rudder, the hand that’s low during the bow rudder phase needs to let the paddle shaft spin within its grip during the changeover to doing the cross-bow rudder, at which point it becomes the high hand.

It sounds to me like you have essentially diagnosed the problem, but I think you might have better luck correcting it if instead of thinking of the top hand as being the one that has too tight of a grip, think about letting the shaft spin within the grip of the low hand while that hand is on its way to becoming the top hand, as happens during the transition from bow rudder to cross-bow rudder. Look closely at what both hands are doing when you link those two strokes on the side where everything turns out right, and notice which hand lets the shaft spin within a loose grip. Then, make sure that when linking those two strokes on the other side that it’s the other hand that keeps a loose grip.

double bladed cross strokes

– Last Updated: May-29-16 10:39 AM EST –

First, you should realize that the same stroke, or variations of the same stroke, often go by different names. What is being called a "bow rudder" and a "cross-bow rudder" in the Schuman video would more likely be called a "Duffek" and a "cross-Duffek" by whitewater or slalom paddlers after Milosevic Duffek, the Czech slalom racer who first popularized bow quadrant turning strokes in whitewater K1 slalom.

Whether you call it a bow rudder or Duffek, the stroke is basically an open face bow draw, executed with the on-side blade, power face open to the bow. Cross-bow rudders or Duffeks are open face bow draws executed with the off-side power face open to the bow. In my parlance, "Duffek" usually implies a stroke executed with a more vertical paddle shaft angle, as in the Schuman video, than a bow-rudder or bow draw, but this will vary depending on who you are talking to.

The Otaku video demonstrates a rather old-fashioned bow draw stroke that I don't care much for with the paddle shaft relatively horizontal and the off-side blade well behind the paddler's head. The paddler also is using little torso rotation. Take a look at some videos demonstrating the kayak Duffek stroke for better technique. It does take some newer paddlers considerable time to master the Duffek stroke.

Cross strokes, cross-bow strokes, or cross-deck strokes all mean the same thing.

You need to adjust your wrist angle so that the power face of the blade is appropriately angled open to the bow before you place the blade in the water.

I have done both whitewater (and flat water) kayaking and canoeing so cross-strokes are quite familiar to me. I have played around with cross-deck strokes in a kayak with a double-bladed paddle and carved circles using cross strokes. When my whitewater kayaking friends have seen me do this they typically ask "why the heck would you want to do that" and my response is usually "just for the hell of it".

I suppose mastering any new stroke enhances boat control in some way, but you might ask yourself "why" before you invest a lot of time with double-bladed cross strokes. I have paddled with a lot of whitewater kayakers including some of the best in the US and I have very infrequently seen any use cross strokes with the double-bladed paddle, even when executing very rapid and tight maneuvers.

C1 and open boat paddlers using a single-bladed paddle have no choice but to master cross-strokes, at least in whitewater, as they have no blade on the off-side. It does not take long to cross the paddle over, especially in a decked boat, but it does take some time. Also, use of the off-side blade puts the paddle and the body in an awkward position to execute a strong, quick brace if the need arises.

Play with double-bladed cross strokes if you want to and enjoy doing so, but realize that they will be of limited utility (unless you lose your paddle and have to paddle out of a river gorge using a borrowed single-bladed paddle).

Long kayaks, strong wind

– Last Updated: May-29-16 11:58 AM EST –

Cross-bow rudder shines when turning a sea kayak in strong wind. The body is in a stronger configuration than in a bow rudder.

For a whitewater kayak, that advantage doesn't matter.

Strong wind, long boat.
My experience in strong wind to go from running downwind to turning back into the wind, I might start with a very quick, but somewhat abbreviated sweep, then a quick standard bow rudder on the opposite side and from that point on, it’s mostly brute force to bring the bow to about 45 degrees to the wind. You simply don’t have the time to piddle before the wind catches the bow and you lose what you’ve gained. This would be in my 19 footer. The drill might be a bit different if the right kind of waves are available.

That was it - I wasn’t letting the shaft spin when taking the stroke on my right side.

Discovered that when I broke down the mechanics of the stroke at slow speed and watched the blade position.

Thanks for the tips - will put them to good use.

Thanks, pblanc
I’m happy to learn all those names are just variations of the same theme.

I tried the cross bow across my foredeck last night. Released my paddle very quickly as I was about to trip over it and didn’t feel like a swim. Reminded me of my first experiences with a bow rudder last year.

I’ll practice the cross deck bow stroke because I really enjoy trying new strokes. If it’s out there, I want to try it because I know I’ll always learn something, whether its about me, my boat, or my blade.

Will I ever use it regularly? I won’t know until I can do it with some competence and make comparisons, but I’ll have fun practicing.

Did a quick search on Duffek. Up popped the Deep Diggity Dig. Interesting, but the only eddylines in my life are my boats.

Much appreciation for your comments.