Help with Static Brace

Over the course of the winter I have been teaching myself some basic Greenland manuvers and have found myself somewhat mystified by the static brace.

I can lie back off the edge of the back deck and scull ok, but need some help in what my legs (upper vs lower)and hips should be doing to maintain boat position and tilt when extending my body away from the boat? What % of weight should be “in the boat” vs. floating on the water?

Yes I know I should be taking lessons, so on and so forth, but would be really happy with a good description of the motions at this time.

Thanks in advance!

A Lower Volume Boat

– Last Updated: Mar-05-06 5:50 AM EST –

really helps with learning the static brace. Indeed some higher volume boats are nearly impossible to do a static brace with depending on your size relative to the boat.

In addition to the advice given above, if you don't use a tuiliq (which gives a lot of bouyancy), my points of emphasis is to get your body flat one the water and as perpendicular as possible to the boat. Use the hand nearest to the stern to push and keep your body extending out from the boat if you have to (this is true for folks with not much torso flexibility). Drop the top leg down and letting the bottom leg stay more in contact with boat. Arch your back and head which serves to push the boat more into an upright position and off you. Hold the paddle with the other hand and have it extended way over your head flat on the water. This will help with bouyancy with on the end away from the boat.

When I do the static brace without a tuiliq (which is most of time these days), It's not unusual for my head to go under. But as soon as I get into position and really arch my back, I will slowly float back up until my face is above water. So, you have to be a bit patient and trust that you come back up.


I find that different
techniques will work differently depending on the kayak and person. What I find that works for me is to get my hips twisted in the seat so that when I lay back into the water I can arch my back flat across the water so that my upper body and life jacket can act as a bobber and take some of my body pressure off of the coaming. I keep my upper foot pushing on the footpeg and my lower knee pulling up on the thigh brace. The combination of arching my back and taking pressure off of the coaming and using my top foot and lower knee to keep the kayak twisted under me is what makes it happen. If your coaming is low and near the edge of the kayak it will be easier. You’ll find that once you have mastered this technique it will open the door to many other techniques. Good luck.

still learning
but I find that if I do push against the boat with the aft hand or pull the underside of the boat towards you this helps getting into the static brace.

when you get to your sculling position, let go with the near hand and let the paddle float out holding it in the middle while arching your back. Twist your hips and arch your back using the paddle as support at first and then slowly find that sweet spot where you are not putting any pressure on the paddle and then let it go. (keep it close though, I usually rest the paddle on my chest)

Basically you are using the force of pushing the boat away from you and attempting an upright position with the boat while you are laying out opposing that force.

At least that is the way I can sort of describe it. sorry if I just confused you.


98% in the boat 2% in the water…
Everyone has posted great tips for the balance brace. What you need to keep in mind is that this move is entirely dependant on what your lower body is doing. As soon as your focus switches to the water and you try to hold yourself up by your paddle, you will sink. The whole trick is to focus solely on rotating the boat upright with your lower body and all the tips (arching the back, squaring the shoulders on the water, knee pressure, etc.) focus on this aspect. If you find yourself sinking, the natural inclination is to push down harder on the paddle and lift your head. What you really need to do is push your head deeper into the water and really twist the boat away from you. This will bring you back to the surface. Good luck!

Aft hand under the edge of the boat

– Last Updated: Mar-05-06 2:03 PM EST –

The downward-most leg holds you up, and I have found that straightening out my upper leg so that it is out of the thigh brace but presses up and away on the foam block (or footpeg) is helpful in one of my boats.

Think of holding the boat away from you further than exactly perpendicular to the water.

But you can use your hand positions to help get into and hold the upper body arch, particularly reaching under the side of the boat with the aft hand. I needed to when I first started getting a bb, in a shamelessly forgiving boat. This will reinforce and hold the necessary back arch and midbody twist, both of which are considerable unless you are a pretzel. I'm only half pretzel.

Also, I find that shifting my butt maybe a half inch out of the seat can be useful too. Not enough to destabilize the hold on the boat, but enough to shift some of the weight-bearing in the boat so that the points of the most downward pressure are occurring over a sligthly wider space.

I think of it as similar to spreading your legs further apart in yoga balance stances - gives you a slightly broader base.

The rest as above - get perpendicular to the boat to give more of your back to the water, and reach the forward arm out and away to help keep that shoulder on top of the water rather than sinking.

Two ways to get into it. You can scull and gradully get into position, pushing the boat away while gradually feeling less and less weight on the paddle. Or you can take one of those big foam floats or similar, get into shallow water, practice sinking and coming up into a bb. As with the paddle, just keep going until you are able to release any support on the float. The latter works better to get the body memory, the sculling approach works better if you want to work on this during a normal paddle or whatever.

The boat does matter. It is fairly easy to do in my Explorer LV, with a low deck that doesn't even reach the top of my hips and a side that will lie exactly sideways on the water. But it is tougher in my Vela, which has a side that angles in as it goes to the water and a higher front deck. I have to push the Vela more steeply away from me and, over an hour plus of practicing sideeways things in a pool session, often find that my legs and lower torso muscles are too tired to keep my head fully above water by the end.

all good advice
I remember while learning this move that my entire body would be tense…once you’ve got it and your face is floating as in the excellent photo posted above, begin to pick certain muscle groups that are tense but not contributing to the brace…relax that muscle group then go on to another muscle group and relax that one too…soon you will learn the minimal amount of effort and basic principles that go into the move. You will be very relaxed and find that you can lay there in the water and enjoy the sun on your face all day long.

When you’ve mastered achieving nuetral bouyancy in the static brace, grab a lung full of air and use your hips to slowly roll the boat upside down. (Just move your hips and legs, keeping everything else in the same position). Yes, you will now be hanging out under the boat. Just chill there. Wait a few seconds then slowly roll the boat back to the upright position (again moving only your hips, keeping your back arched)and as stated in a post above, you will gradually float back up and your face (with perhaps a little bigger grin) will again brack the surface of the water.

Next, let go of the paddle (after reaching nuetral bouyancy again) and repeat the procedure. Now you’re doing a hand roll. If you can’t get back up, reel in the paddle via the paddle leash and roll back up. Failure has never been so much fun. But soon, you’ll get it.

Some people call these party tricks, but these manueveres really do teach you how to manipulate your kayak and teach you to be relaxed in and under the water in your boat.

Good on you for wanting to enjoy the kayak and the water in this type of way. Please post your progress in the future.


Static Brace

I’d recommend that you spend some time on the Qajaq USA forum – searching on balance brace or side scull. A lot of good material can be found there. This is a “keystone” skill that will open the door to a number of Greenland skills.

Some good links are:

In Greenland you learn a static brace/side sculling as soon as you are comfortable in the water. Once you can scull down and scull back up you will soon have a sculling roll, then a standard roll. The boat control that you learn will enable you to hand roll with a little more practice.

The static brace/side scull also allows you to get a very good stretch in your legs and lower back – very useful at sea when a landing is not practical.

The side scull (with your elbows fairly close to your sides) is also how an extreme high-brace is performed in Greenland. Rather than attempt to stop a strong capsize event by bracing with your body above the surface, going into a side-scull position, with the kayak pushed away from you will arrest a capsize. The harder you hit the water, the more support the water gives you. Of course this wouldn’t be a good strategy to use around rocks but it works extremely well in “green” water.

Greg Stamer

With a great bunch of advice from a bunch of highly respected paddlers, I look forward to getting back in the water to work this one out.

Thanks for all the thoughts, pics, and links! I will let you all know how things progress.