Now that we know how to hold the paddle

to which side do you lean the boat when making a “right turn”? I always followed the rule “raise the side of opposition”. That would mean to turn right I would lean left, raising the right side of the boat.

Come-on you old salts…chime in.


Yes, you’re correct.

– Last Updated: Jul-22-08 6:42 PM EST –

If you lean left, the boat wants to go right.

Here's an article on it:

However, one of the first technique tricks that most paddlers stumble on to or by imitation is by leaning right and dragging your paddle on the right side, the boat will turn right.

Sea/touring kayaks work that way,
and some canoes. Whitewater boats can be turned either way, with paddles used to control the turn. If you were to watch slalom racers, you might see them lean into the turn while carving into an eddy, and then suddenly lean the other way to use the outside rail to control entry into the gate.

Usually when turning across differential currents, you are going to lean away from the direction the current is pushing, but there are exceptions.

it depends
on what I want to enhance:

_ With forward speed most designs ‘want’ to go to the right somehow with a heel to the left and vice versa. Some designs will do this the opposite way though! Can also be different with the amount of heel. Experimenting with your own boat is the only sure way to find that out. Although it is quite difficult to get going perfectly straight to find out how a hull exactly reacts on heel.

_ The more you heel the boat, the more the shape in the water of the boat changes to a more ‘rockered’ shape which makes the boat more maneuverable. Especially for straighter keeled boats that are very straight tracking, this technique is recommended by many people, although personally, I consider this only really useful as a flatwater technique. In waves and current I prefer a design that doesn’t need to be heeled to be able to make a turn. I care more about stability and dryness in that kind of situations.

_ When encountering great differences in current, one has to heel the boat downstream. (Preferably not more than is really necessary.) But also with hard side winds I heel a little bit into the wind and waves.

_ It is more stable to lean into a turn on flatwater when your speed is high. Some designs (owned one…) can be really nasty when heeling to the opposite side of a turn with full speed.

_ When entering an eddy with forward and downstream speed it is more stable to lean into a turn. For speed however, some Slalom racers heel to the outside when entering an eddy.

However – if you make a turn on fast moving water, you should heel to the opposite side of the turn (downstream) for stability.

_ To keep an open canoe ‘possibly’ dryer by heeling a bit away from a wave – only (recommended) if you do know when and how to do it (safely)!

yes (for touring kayaks) BUT
instead of leaning to the right/left, think of sitting heavily on your right/left cheek. I only say things because some people actually lean their upper body to one side, this puts you off balance and might lessen the effectiveness.

It is better to hold a steady yet slight edge, than to wobble around trying to achieve more edge.

what are you paddling?
The first time I tried that in a WW boat

I got a nasty surprise!

Thanks Everyone. I was half joking
by asking but got some great information and terrific links. Let’s do ferries next.

heeling for turns
Once a turn is initiated by a turning stroke, a heel to either side will enhance a turn. For almost any hull made a heel to the opposite side will increase the speed of the turn, but a heel to either side will facilitate a turn. This is true because a heel reduces the wetted surface area.

As pointed out, the choice of sides to heel in a WW hull must be carefully considered. If one heels the toward the direction of flow, there’s a good chance current will continue the heel to a capsize. HTH

Look here
Stuff on basics - don’t be dissuaded by the link name.

Don’t forget to hand signal first
They haven’t put directional lights on kayaks yet but they probably will.

Paddlin’ on


This is an
important point, especially for beginners. If you “lean” your whole body (especially in narrow beam or WW boats) there is a very good chance you’ll be upside down before you know it.

All you want to “lean” in order to achieve an edge is your hips, keeping your upper body perpendicular to the water’s horizon. This got easier for me to understand and handle once I started reading about rolling and the hip snap…all edging is is a sustained gentle hip snap :slight_smile:

Once you learn to edge, and hold an edge for a sustained time you’ll really learn how to control and maneuver your boat to the best of its abilities.

Good one Richard, so when is Raystown