low vs high braces

With my euro paddles and my GP I use both high and low braces as appropriate for the situation. Mainly low braces in the rear quarter and high in the forward. I have no preference for one or the other and am equally confident with both. Also, always paddling unfeathered I have no off-side nor on-side.

Different story with my wing, also unfeathered. The high brace is a big problem. Sculling high brace a near impossibility. Low brace is fine.

Yet wing paddlers routinely paddle very rough water, seldom, I presume, using a high brace.

How many of you euro or GP paddlers would feel equally comfortable giving up your high braces?

I’m 100% GP

– Last Updated: Jun-19-12 6:19 AM EST –

No way could I give up my high brace. I learned it first. Just this year am I getting as comfortable with my low brace.

Did you see the post a while back by the guy who said his wing was his best tool for rolling? I always thought it would be the worst. I thought the wing was the racer's paddle... go forward fast.

Bracing is a Bad Habit
That I had to overcome in order to paddle efficiently and effectively my surfski with a wing paddle. It took a lot of practice substituting a power stroke for a brace, but I’m happy with the outcome and no longer waste time and energy bracing.

Best brace is a forward stroke. Just keep falling towards your next stroke.

Come to Think of It
I never have to brace with my GP while going forward. Mostly it’s for dealing with waves while sitting still or for playing around.

When my bastard ‘friends’ start walking away from me I guess I’ll have to get a fast boat and a wing. So far the arms race hasn’t started.

I agree but I brace differently
I agree that in most cases the best way to stabilize the boat is to paddle forward more quickly.

With that said it is funny to me that I used the low brace toward the middle and the bow and the high brace in the stern.

If you are leaning back towards the back deck, how do you use the low brace? I imagine my arms and wrist would have to be in a complete circle to do it? So if the wave is behind me I just bend my elbows and put the blade into it for a high brace. For a wave in front of me I just bend my wrists forward and put the blade into the water.

I really need a lot of work on my bracing. the most stable I become in waves the more work I realize I need. It is funny because a few years ago I thought I was pretty good, but as I improve I find there is much more room for improvement.

it all depends
Yes, you can do high brace with a wing paddle. Probably your technique is lacking if you are experiencing difficulties, but it is really hard to say without seeing it in person.

Yes, you can scull with a wing paddle.

If you don’t need any brace while going forward, conditions are not that rough. Try to go through Tybee Island triangle area when it is cooking, you might reconsider statements that brace is not required. I am not sure paddling a surfski through the triangle when it is going off is a worthwhile idea.

More than one high brace
The traditional high brace, which is equivalent to the end of a C-to-C roll, is pretty useless. If you are in conditions where a forward stroke is not sufficient then use a short front to back scull with a hip “snap” (essentially a mini sweep roll). Or you can modify your forward stroke slightly to increase support.

Yup, and that works well with wing
With a bit of swing front to rear a high brace works really well with a wing (or any other paddle). Same for low brace, by the way. And that swift motion might be the only way to do a strong enough brace in moving water, especially if it is foamy.

The onlyl problem with the Wing is if you miss your initial brace (with a swing front to rear) and want to follow with a rear to forward slice while still in the high-brace position. That is hard to do and the paddle will likely dive on you in the second phase…

As for bracing during the forward stroke (e.g., pushing down on the paddle for balance while paddling as opposed to a dedicated brace with no forward paddling component), the wing is by far the best for this and the GP the worst, IMO, with the Euro in the middle.

Another thing I have been pondering is the extent to which braces can be reflexive, i.e., lightning fast without thinking. There are two steps to the brace; deciding when and how (high, low, forward, rear) and if necessary, then the actual brace itself. The first part is the slow and difficult part. As several here have mentioned, and I agree, one can train oneself to not brace and keep paddling, and use the forward stroke as a mini brace. But be prepared for an error of judgement and a capsize during the training.

The more I learn, the more I find there is to know. :slight_smile: That keeps things from getting boring.

I disagree about where to brace though. Low brace is for when the paddle blade is behind you, high brace when the paddle blade is in front of you. I don’t think you can effectively get your elbow over the shaft when the blade is out by your shins, but a high brace is effective out there. Behind you, it’s hard to high brace without laying back, which puts you in a passive position, and off balance.

I think too many of us first learn the high brace as something you do lying flat on your back deck. But if you’re doing as much of your paddling as possible from an active, upright paddling position, I think you’ll find low braces behind, and high braces up front works very well.

the more you use it, right?
I certainly have found myself doing reflexive bracing. Any situation where I didn’t anticipate needing one, and find myself in the middle of one by the time I cognitively recognize what’s happening.

I don’t know about you, but I largely recognized this as a function of blade angle control as much as anything. I think most anyone probably reflexively makes some type of effort to stabilize themself when they unexpectedly become off balance. From there it seems a matter of not tensing up the wrong knee/both knees, having loose hips that will still twist back underneath of you, and not slicing the blade down through the water. Maybe never slicing the blade down was just the last thing that came together for me personally.

Low brace towards the rear.

If you think about it. A low brace towards the back is a stern rudder with the flat of the blade. I do it all the time with my Greenland paddle and even in rough water. Very stable. :wink:

If you sweep from the stern forward it becomes a turning stroke and provides constant support.