Recovery when paddle submerged

-- Last Updated: Apr-02-07 9:18 AM EST --

Novice question here. While paddling this weekend I was practicing edging away from my sweep as I've heard this can help turn the boat quicker. I found myself going over with the paddle blade fully submerged just after my catch. I flicked the blade out and then braced, which with a hip flick was sufficient to right myself. The whole move seemed very slow though, like if I had been more out of sorts I would have been too far gone before getting the paddle into position to brace.

So two questions:
1) Is there another brace (sculling motion?) that I could have used in that situation?
2) Is there an advantage to edging away from the sweep as opposed to edging into the turn?

For sweep strokes
You edge your boat towards the blade that is in the water. The low brace (back face of blade on the water), is the safest support or recovery stroke (protecting shoulders wrist) from either the forward or reverse sweep position.

Paddle already diving
If the paddle’s already diving, anything you do to lift it straight up will encourage the boat to roll towards the paddle.(can’t escape Newton) I’d think your best bet would be to roll your wrist back and try to turn the stroke into a sweeping brace.

I’ll have to try it the next time I go out…

Depends on what water/paddle/boat combo.
Assuming you’re in deep, flat water in a touring boat, you may be able to pull off a vertical scull. It’s easier with a GP, but doable all the same with a Euro. That being said, it’s probably safer (read shallower) and quicker to “back slap” and high brace up. You don’t need to change hand or wrist position. Just arch your back so that your shoulder blades make contact with the water first, your upper body is perpandicular to the boat and your looking straight up. This action stops the capsize dead at the water’s surface. Then sweep for support, hip flick and recover.

If I’m understanding you correctly this would be an example of how you were edging: Trying to turn left, you’re edging your boat into the water on the right side and sweeping on your right side. If you think of your stern as a knife on edge, this action would cause the knife edge to skim/plane upwards which is what you want. Edging on the opposite side would cause the knife to dig in and creat resistance against the action of the paddle.

If I’m not undersanding you correctly, or your maneuver is in surf or whitewater, please correct me.


Convert to high brace…
One of the drills I have students practice as they advance is going from a failed/submerged low brace to a high brace – once the blade gets 10 inches or more below the surface, you rotate the paddle blade 90 degrees (drop your elbow on the water side) so the blade can slice back up to the surface and then drop your elbow, rotating the blade so the power face is now providing the support, keeping your elbow tight to your body and convert to a high brace. You can then use a hip snap to recover from the high brace position, or scull for support and come up.

It’s kind of hard to picture just from words. It’s a technique I picked up at a symposium from one of the coaches there.

The position you are already in?
If I have this correct, at the point that you start going over you are falling to the side away from the paddle so have the paddle at about the maximum distance from a normal support position possible. And will have to get the paddle over to the other side from where it is submerged to enact a useful brace on the side that is falling over. Yes?

I am trying to envision a support position that would kinda naturally fall out of this, and a high brace on the other side from where the paddle was seems to be the only likely one. For a low brace, you may be really racing the clock.

That said, mayhaps if you cut the blade to be parallel to the side of the boat, rotated towards the paddle (and the uphill side) and pulled the blade straight towards the boat, it’d get you up. I am wondering if that’d put a lot of strain on a shoulder or elbow though - it might be safer to just drop into the water on the other side and do a properly protected high brace up.

What boat?
In a ww boat you lean away from the sweep. In a touring boat you usually lean toward the sweep. You may need to experiment to see which works for your boat.

Some basics to get straight first
The best help for turning is to lower the edge of the kayak on the same side where you are sweeping the paddle (raise the side toward which you are turning the boat). Doing it the other way will also help the boat turn, but not as effectively.

Second, a sweep stroke with your blade vertical to the water will provide no support if you find yourself edging too much and starting to fall. Instead, angle your blade so the stroke is part sweep, part brace (angle the top edge to the rear). This will still give you a sweep, but will act as a support stroke also. Vary the angle to get the best combination. Experience will teach you how far you can edge - and you will edge more aggressively as you gain experience, giving you an improving turn rate (next, learn the bow rudder).

Give it a try - you will develop a feel for the water as you gain hours in the saddle.


Sorry for the delay

– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 10:49 PM EST –

Thanks everyone.

Indeed, I was in a 23" x 14' rec/touring boat on flat water. I was turning right, sweeping on the left and edging the boat on the left side. In retrospect, I think that the blade was vertical on the sweep, which is why I had no support.

In the past, leaning "away" from the sweep really made blade angle irrelevant from a support standpoint - I would just throw a low brace if going too far over.

Now that I am edging toward the sweeping blade, I will try putting a little brace into my sweep as suggested.

People missed this.

– Last Updated: Apr-09-07 1:38 PM EST –

It looks like you were leaning the boat not edging it.

Edging is tilting the boat keeping your keeping your center of gravity over the boat (so the boat doesn't tip over).

Leaning is tilting the boat by leaning your body over to one side (some static or dynamic support is required here to keep the boat from rolling).

You should be able to edge the boat with no paddle support. You should be able to use a sweep with a verticle blade while edging the boat.

The key to edging is learning how to sit one one butt cheek. Try this on a hard floor. You should be able to raise one side of your hip without falling over so that you can pass a hand underneath it. Note that your knee will automatically rise when you do this.