Follow up on skills set thread

Blade in sculling

– Last Updated: Jun-11-12 1:46 PM EST –

If you are using a decent dihedral blade and keep it fairly flat to the water surface, it should find that climbing angle pretty much by itself. The more you try to control it, the harder it is for you to feel that.

This takes time - don't worry if it does. It sounds like you hit the tipping point great - about the coaming should usually be it.

As to the hip action, again you probably want to separate the actions to drill in the body memory. If you can find a dock or something relatively solid to hang onto, or borrow the bow of someone else's boat, go over with your head into the water and start practicing just the hip part. The less weight you have on the hands (or the less you sink the other person's bow), the better your hip action is. Or leg or whatever image works for you... Personally I work best by focusing on the thigh that has to initiate things, but everyone has a different image that works for them.

Now if you want to have it really easy, change yourself into a 130 pound woman with 16 pounds of floatation in the PFD and enough flexibility to flop your back over onto the water flat (with legs still in the boat). It is called a static brace and, done right, absolutely no paddle support is needed to just float there. It is a great example of how much a loose and well-balance body can counter a tendency to sink. But for many larger or stiffer folks, this one takes a little more time. :-)

Bracing as a continuum …
I’m not an expert paddler or an instructor, but one thing I learned is that in the beginning paddlers tend to develop a set of skills like High Brace, Low Brace, Skulling Brace and they engage them when they are in binary states: 1 Upright 2 .capsizing. When I started paddling very tippy waveskis I learned that you almost need to constantly have a paddle on the water for support and it may look something like a paddle stroke or any of the braces mentioned above but it may be in between. So the point is to be comfortable on the water when in chaotic conditions, learn how to dance with the water using the water itself, your body, boat and paddle blade -instead of breaking things down into limited named behaviors

The SMACKO advice
One piece of advice I got early on and still hear some instructors telling students, is to whack that paddle hard SMACKO on the water when bracing.

It doesn’t have to always be SMACKO. Sometimes a light touch is all that’s needed. Or sometimes it’s a longer holding of the blade in the bracing position rather than an instantaneous SMACKO. Or sometimes a quick brace transitions into another kind of stroke.

It’s all fluid…

I just
got some fairly large pieces of styrofoam from a bathroom sink we had shipped here. I’m going to try one of those to take the place of a dock(the one the lake is way to high) or another kayak’s bow(no one else around). I got the idea to use the foam when I saw a video of someone using an inflatable paddle float for support.

A very
good point, seadart. I watched a clip of Eric Jackson, I think thats who it was, competing in a whitewater race and there was constant action of the paddle, the kayak and the person, which was just as you mentioned; a dance with the water.

BTW I saw a picture in your profile and there appears to be something in the water behind you. Any idea what it was?

I am
hoping that this will come with experience–the fluidity of it all. I can see where someone like me would need to do sort of an overkill smacko initially because, I suspect, I don’t have the skill with the hips/thighs yet so the initial braces are almost a matter of brute strength or the kayk goes over and the newbie feels like a failure. Even with the few brace attempts I have made I was wondering if it could have been a bit more gentle or finessed.

I will
add that to my practice sessions.

tried that(sitting just behing the coaming) the other evening and it is harder than one might think. It is excellent balance work added to the crawling around all over the top of the boat which I’m happy to say I’m getting a little better at.

You got it
Exaggerated effect drives home the point. But let’s say that you’re already bracing well without the super-whack and someone says you have to do SMACKO. You already know you don’t and have determined that lower-body control plays a big role.

It sounds like you’re thinking (afterward) about what goes on, and that’s good.

Some boats are easier to do that on than others, so try other people’s boats if you can. Good fun on a hot day, for working on both balance and bracing.