Fun stability and bracing practice

Now that the waters have warmed up somewhat in Long Island Sound, I took my J200 out for a ‘tip over training’ beach day. I try to hold the boat at the absolute final secondary stability point with water touching or coming over the gunwale in 4-12” chop

I am generally a little shaky at first, doing a constant sculling brace, then I try to reduce the bracing to the frequent slap brace, then an infrequent slap brace, and eventually getting close to being able to hold the boat on absolute edge with only the occasional brace. I swam a few times in waist deep water, but it felt good.

Once I could do that on both sides (my left side is weaker, so I spent more time on that side) I started trying to spin the boat in a circle holding it on edge so I get waves from every direction. That was a little tougher and I swam a couple more times, but eventually did a figure eight in 5-10” waves holding the gunwale at the water 90% of the time.

Once I got tired of that, I paddled out 100 yards and would ride boat wakes back into shore, but doing switchbacks trying to carve as hard as I could on the wave, intentionally letting the boat fall into the trough (and thus the stability fall out) and try to save it with an epic brace. This was really fun. I swam a few times doing this, but I also saved a couple flips with an epic brace that I never thought I would or could save. I actually managed to get in a 2 full stroke brace and barely keep the boat upright. (2 full stroke meaning at the end of the stroke, I braced during the recovery, put in a quick slap stroke/forward stroke, then another recovery brace). I got about 1-2” of water in the boat it was so far gone, but I managed to save it.

Finally, I felt so stable at the end that I intentionally swamped the boat 1/3 of the way then paddled back and forth, trying to edge and turn (which isn’t easy in a full boat!). This is fun if you want stability training! In my J200, with the wings submerged, it has zero stability and feels like a slow rolling surfski or stable K1. I figured out the “shovel brace”, when you’re flipping to the opposite side of your paddle, I speared it into the water with the blade parallel to the direction of travel, and lifted up (like lifting a shovel of dirt) pulling me back down onto the paddle. Because of the swamped boat I over corrected and had to do an onside brace, but it was good practice, as I have swamped off-side in 2 races and it really bugged me! Ill be practicing this one a lot more, as I have needed it in the past but haven’t executed one in time in a race situation.

Overall it was very fun. I encourage everyone to go find out where the limits of their boat are in shallow water and push it too far a few times. Bracing has saved my butt more times than I can remember, but if you have to think about doing it, you’ll likely be thinking about it as you swim. It needs to be an involuntary, split second reaction and repetition is the only thing that builds that muscle memory.

Happy paddling (and swimming)

sometimes the most fun is had
in one place, just messing about. Thanks for the reminder, sounds like you had one of those times. Now that the weather has heated up I have no excuse not to do so, and you’ve provided some inspiration.

We must be cut from the same cloth.
I can remember doing the same things and having so much fun. Just messing about in boats.

So glad I read this
before getting on the water after work.

Now that holiday/weekender crazies have gone back downstate, it was just me and George and Gracie (our resident Loons) on the water. After a two-hour LSD paddle, played with edging and bow rudders. Fun stuff.

Cold and windy, so I didn’t get too aggressive on the bracing practice. Saving that for a warmer day.

Thanks for the good advice.

Thank you
Your post has helped me even though I’m nowhere close to your level. You’ve taught me a lesson that I can’t wait to try