Eddy Turns / Peelouts?????


I am mostly a flatwater and sea kayaker and still have a lot to learn about whitewater.

Here is my question…I can do eddy turns and peelouts pretty well, but now am trying to improve my technique.

I have videos by Eric Jackson and Ken Whiting. They both talk about using a gliding draw when performing eddy turns and peelouts.

On a recent group trip, the leader (a very experienced and skilled paddler) told me that I should do them using a high brace so that I could better edge the boat away from the current (and then use a bow draw as needed to aid in turning to boat). Now I know that they say that the open faced bow draw (duffek…spelling???) is no longer needed with today’s boats, but what about the high brace technique that he describes??? It seems to make sense.

Of course he is not the paddler that Ken Whiting or Eric Jackson is, but he is very skilled, and I am not paddling a playboat like the Ken and EJ are----I am paddling a Dagger RPM.

What do you think???


sliding strokes
there is a lot of confusion re: sliding bow rudder stroke vs hi braces in boat maneuvers.

they can be the same thing, in some people’s eyes.

hate to hang ya but gotta go light the BBQ.



I don’t see much difference between
using a “high brace” and an “open faced bow draw.” To say “high brace” is just less specific. As for the duffek, it is another variation. Also remember that your Dagger RPM is somewhat more slalom-ish than some of the boats Eric Jackson and Whiting may be paddling.

For the time being, I don’t think you have to worry about the difference between your instructor’s thinking and that of Jackson and Whiting. As you practice eddy turns, you will tend to apply adjustments to your paddle work so that you are using a sort of open faced bow draw. That’s how it was with me.

Practice The Different Variations

– Last Updated: Aug-01-05 10:23 AM EST –

for peeling in and out. Generally, for folks new and unsteady in the peel in/out, I tell them to use the high brace. Once, they have this down, I tell them to try a bow rudder (the shaft is held more vertical than is in a high brace). This means you edging confidently and NOT relying on the high brace for additional support. The bow rudder provides a cleaner/faster peel in/out. A draw provides even quicker turning. A Duffek -- a draw to stroke -- is very good and needed to pull oneself into a small eddy (think midstream rock) in faster current. A duffek becomes increasingly needed in higher class and more technical runs.


yeah…what they said
the HI brace turn IS a sliding bow rudder done a little further back and the shaft a little lower is all.

Blade articulation (the PITCH angle) is the key. a very OPEN blade is effective at STOPping and turning the boat. The more you close the blade down to neutral, the more braking action you lose.

Think of getting the boat to YAW 1st, then apply the sliding blade at neutral, open the blade angle as needed.

Vary the verticality of the shaft and position fwd/aft and you have it!

bow ruddering

btw~the chicken was most excellent!


check out Chris Mitchell’s thread and video clips on Basic Elements of the stroke.

good modeling.


old duffek vs. new duffek
As EJ would say, the duffek is dead. At least the open faced, bow draw duffek that slalom paddlers used to use. However, the “new” duffek would best be classified as a hanging draw type manuever in which the blade is transitioned from a forward stroke to a vertical forward slicing skull/draw and back to a forward stroke. Basically this slicing draw allows you to maintain an active paddle, retain your speed, and gives you a natural brace when entering/exiting eddies. Since I learned this little trick from Tyler Curtis at a playboating clinic, I’ve stopped using sweep strokes. I make my way down rivers using this stroke primarily and pivot turns for quick directional changes.

been playing with that on my own, kinda of dodging around midstream rocks/holes. I wouldn’t say that the sweep is dead though… you can combine that with the opposing bow rudder/slicing draw (before or after depending…)for that tad bit extra momentum and turning.

yup, the sweep is still there
in the form of a pivot turn. Obviously with a longer boat you still have to do a traditional sweep but in my playboat (and even my river runner) I use pivot turns to basically do mini stern or bow pirouettes for an instantaneous directional change. Something that Tyler taught our class also was that there is no reason to do a sea kayaking sweep in whitewater (a long sweeping arc in which you follow the blade with your head and body). Rather he emphasized winding up and sweeping/pivot turning with your head away from the sweeping blade and then sweeping only from the bow to 90 degrees (where you are facing straight). This basically breaks down the sweep to the part where pure torso rotational energy drives the move. As a sea kayaker first, this was a mini epiphany for me.

the “pivot turn”, as I understand it, came from slalom racing with the longer displacement hulls. Nevertheless, sea kayakers will never see a pivot turn, much less do one, unless they get out in serious tidal current in a low volome boat. :wink:


outside edge
turns in a sea boat and pivot turns in a ww boat are closely related. same boat tilt factor, different boat physics.

yes, I encourage people to explore the bow sweep as a turning alternative to the FULL sweep.

plant fwd and stroke outwards from the feet, rotating your eyes and elbows the way you are turning. winds you up for the next bow sweep. the exit is similar to a wing paddle exit. the whole stroke is 14-18" long.


Outside Edge, Yes…
but a sea kayaker is not going to submerge the stern or bow of a long boat and literally “pivot” on it for a quick turn. Hence, “pivot turn.”


along with the differences in regards to edged sea kayak turns and whitewater pivot turns, the edging does different things as you know. An edged sea kayak turns away from the edge while an edged whitewater kayak carves a turn into the edge. It does get tricky illustrating an edged sea kayaking turn during our winter pool classes when we are all in whitewater kayaks! :slight_smile:

misconception #1
"An edged sea kayak turns away from the edge while an edged whitewater kayak carves a turn into the edge"

if given initiation the bow of either boat will YAW either way on most balanced designs, ww or sea, when edged or ‘rolled’. This is speaking pure rotational- YAW-ROLL-PITCH. carve being defined as either edge cutting into the surface water.

sing, tho the bow/stern doesn’t bury the pivoting point of the boat moves in either example- WWvsSEA. on a low brace/ inside edge turn it’s out at the end of your paddle, on an outside edge turn it’s nearly under your outside cheek.


PHD- YRPHSSology (pronounced Yur-fiss-ology)

Oh, Jeeeze…
Okay, professor, I concede that if you turn on the outside edge of a seakayak, your “pivot” point is under your butt cheek. However, a “pivot turn” connotes a specific technique that involves not only pivoting on the butt cheek on the outside edge but also employs a lower volume stern that will utilize and dive into the current to give a tight radius turn.

I hazard to say if you use the term “pivot turn” with sea kayakers, the majority will look back you with a blank stare. It’s simply not in the terminology or repetoire of most sea kayakers unless this is a routine move for them:


Note that the title of this small video is: “The Rookie.” The implication is that the move should not have happened.


I thought EJ and Ken Whiting both
said to use a CLOSED-face STERN draw after peeling or eddying out. Can someone explain? It seems I’ve heard just about every possible stroke/sweep/draw/glide recommended by someone for peeling out.

a closed face stern draw???

the stern rudder would be a vertical, possibly sliding stroke at the stern. The DRAW would use the power face and the PRY the back face. The draw would move the stern towards the paddle and the pry away.


That’s A First For Me…
The general rule of thumb is to maintain a moderately “aggressive” posture/attitude on whitewater. Any strokes done towards the stern tend to be “defensive” and more likely to slow the speed of the kayak. Anyway, I never heard of or tried what you mentioned.


Ken Whiting on the Pivot Turn

Gliding draw
Both Whiting and EJ teach the same thing. When you carve into an eddy, for example, even with your boat on edge, your spin momentum will cause you to spin out and often to unintentionally exit the back of the eddy. A gliding draw acts as a keel and helps you maintain forward momentum and avoid spinning out. It is easy to do. The keys are to rotate your body fully to the draw side, put your paddle in the water vertically near your butt, and keep the paddle face parallel to the boat. The easiest, and best way to do it is to link it with a forward stroke. As you approach the eddy line, take a strong forward stroke across the line with good rotation. Then simply keep rotating while shifting the paddle into draw position. It is actually easier to do than the high brace and is more effective.