Rudder strokes, pry strokes etc

My main question here is, why so many steering strokes? Bow and stern rudders, bow and stern prys, left and right sweeps and few subsets of the aforementioned bow and stern strokes.

I’m guessing they are all necessary in one way or another, but that leads me to wonder when is any one steering stroke the better choice over the others?

See my answer to your other post about the bow rudder. You need a variety of tools to handle a full range of wind, current etc, at least if you want to make it easier.

Canoe or kayak?
Even though it probably doesn’t matter.

17’ Prijon Kodiak

want to make it easier. I saw your response in my other thread, very much appreciated. To date I haven’t been in any wind, just light breeze. Nor have I been in any kind of current. Might get a little of both on Sunday if I can get up to the Ohio for my first day session. I’m hoping to paddle down river for around 10 miles.

Degree of turn, boat length, etc.
Some of the body positions required are easier to achieve or hold than others. What’s best for each person might vary by physical limits such as flexibility. It’s good to have more than one or two choices in that case.

Boat length is another factor. I can’t imagine needing to use a cross-bow-rudder in a WW kayak, for example. But for an expedition sea kayak in strong wind, yeah. In that case, I find cross-bow-rudder feels like a stronger, more stable position to hold (bodily stable, not boat stability) than a regular bow rudder.

Also, for me the stern rudder is better for making smaller corrections rather than a major turn–or just to hold a straight-ahead line without being veered. If I want to turn 90 degrees or more, I would choose bow rudder (preceded by an edged sweep) over stern rudder.

Experiment…it’s fun.

A little OT, but…
it’s really great to see someone systematically preparing for a big trip. Seriously. Kudos to you.


– Last Updated: Jun-27-12 11:22 PM EST –

sometimes it's important to change direction but not loose speed. Other times losing speed is okay (e.g. surfing a wave) but you want a stronger turn. Sometimes you you have something in the way preventing a stroke on the normal sweep side. Sometimes you need to move sideways more than actually turn. Sometimes the wind makes certain turns easier than others. Combine some of these and you get more reasons.

Thank you
for the kind words. I truly appreciate all the help I get on this message board.

slightly didfferent needs
Each turns or moves a boat sideways, but slightly differently.

I “taught” a quick clinic last weekend on advanced strokes. More of a show the stroke, have them try, and hopefully think about taking7 an advanced strokes class if it was of interest.,

First stroke I did (after brief go over of forward and sweep strokes) was low brace turn. Effective at turning the boat, but also stops the boat.

Then did draw strokes - good for moving a (generally stopped boat) boat sideways.

Then hanging draw - good for moving a moving boat sideways. Good for when you paddling along with others and you get a little too close.

Then bow rudder, which turns the boat, but unlike the low brace turn, allows the boat to keep moving.

Then stern rudder, which is mostly used in surfing to keep the boat going straight (or to help carve, in boats that can carve surf - not something you likely will do in the sea kayak).

Left out some other strokes in this clinic, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the slight different uses.

the hanging draw, thanks for that different use than I had seen on video.

May be 2 definitions of low-brace turn

– Last Updated: Jun-28-12 3:35 PM EST –

What I first understood to be a low-brace turn was actually a braking turn; while it didn't stop the boat it certainly slowed it down while providing immediate support from capsizing. This sounds like what you taught.

In 2007 I learned that a low-brace turn doesn't necessarily incorporate the braking and slowing part. The way that Body Boat Blade described it, you edge, do a bow sweep (not a full sweep), and instantly flip the blade to its low-brace position (power face UP) when it reaches a point opposite the cockpit. Then, rather than leaning on the blade or using it to turn, you hold it lightly there, barely skimming the water's surface and READY to provide an actual low brace if needed. The turn itself is accomplished via forward momentum, edging, and bow sweep. You are keeping the paddle from slowing the boat down further by letting it skim the surface with the back face down. I think of it as being, basically, an edged bow-sweep turn with the paddle in the low-brace position but not actually engaged as a brace.

It is a very elegant-looking turn when done according to definition #2.

I bet these different uses of terminology have more than a few people confused.

Linking Strokes
Great explanations of why different strokes are important, but I’ll add that as you advance you will focus more on linking strokes together and thinking less of them as distinct “moves.” For instance if you plant a hanging draw to move the boat laterally and then decide that you need to turn the bow more sharply, it is much easier to slide the stroke forward into a bow rudder position and edge than it is to extract the blade and sweep on the opposite side.

For me, hours paddling around the edge of a lake was great practice. Use various strokes to maneuver around every dock, overhanging tree, rock, etc. Link the strokes to see how little energy you can expend and still maneuver.

On a side note, great discussions to your two posts. Best of luck on your preparations.

How to make a “boring” place interesting
That’s it…play up all the strokes and transitions between them and work every little part of the lake to test your application of skills learned, not just the physical skills themselves. You don’t have to limit yourself to what someone else “taught” you, either. Go out and play; if you capsize, then it’s a good time to practice your recoveries, too.

Learning what tool to choose is as important as owning the tools. I don’t know if this part of sea kayaking is ever done with.

A bow rudder or pry or other stroke to move the bow might be useful for moving the boat without the stern getting pushed to the side. Avoiding obstacles like rocks in a rock garden might be common for some, if only along the shore of a calm lake.

I enjoy paddling around the rocks in the small harbor here just because it requires more than just a forward stroke.


bow rudder and low brace turn

– Last Updated: Jun-28-12 5:17 PM EST –

When I do "advanced strokes" classes, I like to teach the side slip (aka the hanging draw) before the bow rudder. What generally happens is that students don't get the paddle placement of the hanging draw right at first, usually planting the paddle too far forward, resulting in a...bow rudder. So, when we get to the bow rudder, I remind them of what happened when they planted their sideslip too far forward and ask them to replicate that.

As for the low brace turn, I think the main source of confusion with this stroke is that it's usually taught on flatwater, despite the fact that it originated as a means to facilitate breaking into and out of current. It makes a lot more sense in that context.

I’ve come to think of the hanging draw and bow rudder as not really different but rather just being at different ends of a continuum of options. So you can vary how much you move sideways vs change direction as you see fit. Likewise with how much I choose to open the blade or not.

Well said
and as someone below added, combine everything said above with linking strokes.

I borrowed the Nigel Foster DVD series from the local library. See if you can find a copy to watch from a local library, paddling club, friend, etc. He gives a good concise explanation of when each stroke is useful.

the perimeter of the local lake is something I am doing currently for the very reason you suggest–learning to maneuver the kayak. The local lake has lots of little coves or spurs as I call them. They are kind of long and narrow which places a limit on the turning radius. Doing this is what lead me to find other strokes for turning.

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