Sculling brace

Last night at roll practice, I figure I’d try a sculling brace. It’s a lot harder than it looks. I was in my ww boat and I was using my ww paddle. I read about sculling and extended sculling braces on the technique’s page. I’m not sure I like the extended sculling brace, but I do want to learn the normal sculling brace.

So what’s the secret? I started with a sculling draw and as I would lean over my blade would dive. I would have to either do a high brace to right myself or I would flip totally over and have to roll back up. Can you in theory hold the sculling brace while almost submerged? Does the short ww paddle hurt me trying to learn this brace?

Anyway, it looks like a cool brace and I’d like to learn it. Thanks for any advice.

Harder To Do

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 4:30 PM EST –

with a planing hull then a displacement hull that characterize the old ww boats and the current touring boats. Have to modify by leaning out towards the back deck rather than straight out to the side. The lack of flare sides and deadrise in modern ww boats work against a "standard" sculling brace.

Sculling brace is talked about and practiced more by sea kayakers than ww folks. Playboaters do some elements of it but don't call it as such. They also have their version of a "balance brace" but much harder since it's done on one or other end of the kayak.


I was using a creeker (micro 230) which has more of a displacement hull than most playboats. Do you think it would be easier to learn in my sea kayak (CD solstice)? I was trying it out in my ww boat 'cuz it’s much easier to load on my car. Yeah…I don’t see much use for it in ww, but I’m trying to build skills for sea kayaking.

My comments

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 5:10 PM EST –

After much flopping in the water this is one thing that I am not awful at. As Sing said, a creeker is going to be a particularly cantankerous boat to get it in. That said, the Solstice isn't going to be a walk in the park either. I had a Squall, so I am familiar with how the boat's stability feels as you take it over. If you really take it over a lot, the Solstice series hulls will make you work harder to keep from fully capsizing than many of the newer lower profile designs. The more you have to really work at keeping from a capsize, the harder it'll be to relax and get the sculling stroke to be nice and long and comfortable.

So - if any any of your friends have an older school WW boat or something like a NDK Romany, you may want to borrow their boat to start to get this.

It sounds like you went over fairly far and really didn't give the stroke a chance to help you - it should very long, the blade fully within the water, and more quiet and slow than thrashing and urgent. (The last part takes a little time.) Best bet is to start higher up, where you aren't looking at imminent collapse, and develop a nice long sculling stroke. Then gradually move it lower.

As to holding it submerged - sure. Those that are really good at this can scull up and down continuously and hold it just about anywhere they want, above the water or under it. (I'm not that slick.) If you want to have a lot of fun, find a DS Necky Elaho to play with. Because of the diamond chining, you can actually lay out in a position that is essentially a balance brace either on top of the water or a couple of inches under it. The boat will just sit there.

you’re too modest celia
I still struggle with the sculling brace.

Not really
As long as I continue to not get to the gym, I am well-endowed for this move. Plenty of weight in the seat and not much muscle up top, so the center holds easily… it really is a lot easier for me than for a lot of guys because it is easier for me to hold some weight in the boat itself rather than having to support it with the paddle.

Smoothly rotate torso…
…while watching the blade scull about 45 deg to either side of a paddle shaft perpendicular to the boat. Trying to keep the blade at the surface may be helpful initially. A good roll helps to learn it! :slight_smile: Not sure about WW boats. Good luck.

Sea kayaker article on sculling
I wrote this quite a few years back if you want to read it.

You’ll have to go to articles on the left side of the page. I can’t grab the link to the exact page - sorry. It was posted long before I had a web site.


– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 9:33 PM EST –

Try rotating so that you're lying on your back on the surface instead of going in with your side. Let the PFD help you. Your legs need to be relaxed -- if you're trying to hold yourself up with your legs you're actually pulling the boat over onto yourself.

I was doing a sculling brace with a Pyranha S8 a couple of days ago. As sing said, I was angled off the stern, and it worked fine.

It’s not the boat …it’s the paddle

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 7:42 PM EST –

You can do it in a white water boat but you have to have good paddle dexterity. You need to be able to move the paddle back and forth so that it has a climbing angle both directions of each movement. To me it seems like all of the finess is in the wrist. You can skull yourself up from completely inverted and hold yourself at the surface. I do this on a waveski and trust me it's harder than a whitewater boat. Check out Eric Jacksons Rolling and Bracing Video.

I have a very thin friend that I surf kayak with, she does this all the time and makes it look effortless and elegant.

Paddle - Impact of & Etc

– Last Updated: Jun-29-07 10:53 AM EST –

If you use a Euro (non-wing) paddle, you will get some minor advantage in that you can pretty much loosen the wrist and the blade will find its own climbing angle without the paddler having to do much of anything. The downside of many WW blades, like my chunky H2O, is that that you have to actually manage the angle a bit more yourself. Nothing at all when you have it, a bit more to deal with when you are learning. The biggest two paddle mistakes with this move seem to be the paddler over-controlling the paddle and being tight-wristed which will make it dive, and not making a long enough stroke.

As to body angle/position - just so you know this detail may matter in a class depending on the coach you have. I cheat like crazy doing this on my own, and go into mostly a balance brace so that the paddle isn't having to support but a few pounds. That means I tend to be mostly on my back.

However, the point of a sculling brace is for the paddler to demonstrate that they can really support themselves relying on the paddle. And in surf for example you could need to do that. So a lot of coaches will insist on at least seeing that you can lay out more sideways with a whole lotta weight being supported by the paddle.

This is a good thing and periodically I practice it because we should all be able to do it. It is annoyingly tiring compared my cheat - like yuck. But that is one value of learning it by starting high and going gradually lower - you will learn to add weight to the paddle and still stay up.

Back to the boat issue - as you may have started to figure out, having a whole lotta weight suddenly landing on the paddle as the boat passes its stability point makes this harder to do. The Solstice will do this big league. In fact, unless you are a lot heavier than me (5'4" and 135-140) you'll have to work like crazy to actually get the boat over so that you are relying on the paddle, but at the point that happens it'll feel like you are suddenly trying to hold up a truckload of bricks. The Solstice design is tremendously seaworthy, but dates from an era when North American boats were designed to protect a paddler by keeping them upright in the worst possible conditions. Compared to now very few sea kayakers rolled, and just about no one south of Greenland was hanging on their backs in the water. So the boats weren't really set up to make any of that easy.

In sum, you really may want to start this move out in a different long boat. And my Inazone 220 supports this quite nicely too.

Oh - and I forgot to mention earlier - the sculling brace really isn't anything more than a slower and repetitive version of the sweep for a roll. In fact Greenland folks often teach the roll from the scull because in big water you can scull up as well as roll up - the roll is really just coming up in a single sculling stroke. In our little time with only-WW folks we have found that they tend to think either up or down. A lot of the territory in the middle seems to be outside of their training. This is very understandable - in WW the imperative is to get up fast and hard - but it does create a disconnect between rolling and sculling that isn't necessary.

PS - Just caught the part about your Elaho. I am guessing that you have very little long boat time... in seas, the Elaho is no less stable than the Solstice. In fact some may argue that it is more so because it won't take so much oomph to recover once it has gone past its secondary stability point. That is a much more graceful moment in sea kayaks than it is in a WW boat, especially creekers. A sea kayak can let you sit out half over and practically have a cup of tea there - the Elaho does this great - and if you think about the normal action of waves this is what you want it to do. And if you have to scull or roll up, you want to be able to do that without havikng to blow by a huge wall of stability change (like ikn a WW kayak). The Elaho does this well too.

The Elaho is a very heavy boat - but for long boat (current) skills training it'll do you a lot better than the Solstice. I'd suggest that you find somewhat graceful ways to drop and lift it off the car - blankets, ropes, whatever - get a small kayak cart to move between there and the launch and use that as much as you to start. And be aware that you will need to wipe out the bulkheads after every use - especially if rolling, the plastic boat is leaky.

The Solstice tracks like a train and is a fairly fast tripper - great boat for that purpose.

Jay’s article
It was Jay’s article that gave me the knowledge to learn, practice, and accomplish sculling . . . .GP paddle.

I was going to ask about the elaho
…I actually have a poly Nech elaho. I prefer the handling of the Elaho to the Solstice, but I got the kevlar solstice for a steal at $1500 so this is the sea kayak I’ve been primarily using. It is incredibly stable especially compared to the elaho. The downside of the elaho (64 pounds)is that is so heavy that I have a heck of a time loading and unloading it, which is why I bought the solstice. At 48 pounds, it is not much heavier than my creek boat.

The article made a lot of sense. I know I’ll be referring to it often as I attempt to learn this brace.

I appreciate all the advice
I really appreciate you all taking the time to answer my post. I’m pretty new at the sea kayaking thing, but I find it equally as challenging and exciting as ww. I just wish there was a sea closer to Atlanta. Of course, right now the sea is almost as close as the nearest ww to Atlanta.



Try sculling up
That would give you the opposite perspective.

blade angle, blade angle, blade angle…
slow, broad sweeps and a quick transition from forward to back. keep your body in the water.

Sculling up
You mean flip over and while underwater try to scull up. It seems like I saw someone do that on an Eric Jackson dvd. It looked very cool.

East Coast Canoe and Kayak Symposium
I’ve never been to the East Coat Canoe and Kayak Symposium in Charleston, SC. Don’t they have instructinos on sculling and other braces, rolls and strokes?

What flavor?
What sort of sculling brace are you interested in? I had an interesting discussion in a training class about the “Greenland” sculling I had learned and a more “Euro” scull.

What I learned from the GP folks was a twisting around, laying on your back scull. You arch your back and rotate the boat away from you with your upper leg. An important point is that the upper hand is kept close to your shoulder with the wrist cocked back to allow the blade to move at the correct angle. This is a big difference from the pictures in Jay’s article where his hand is held down by his waist. Look at the side sculling video on

I think one reason the hand near the shoulder thing is important, at least for me, is that that is a strong position for finishing a roll - and coming up from a scull is the same as finishing a roll. I had had a real problem with erratic rolls due to punching outward with my upper hand - the sculling and learning to keep my hand near my shoulder cured that. The other thing it does is keep your shoulder more protected (keep your elbow tucked in, too!).

With a GP you can extend the paddle gripping all the way out near the tip, with a Euro blade I prefer to keep my hand on the shaft and extending less. Of course you can work on doing it without extending, too.

Now you can also scull in a more standard (standard for most Euro paddlers anyway) high brace. Maybe it’s more of a C-to-C scull. I don’t think you can hang out as long but it can give your brace a little more oomph and keep you from capsizing. My teacher’s point was it keeps you in a more dynamic position to quickly move to a forward or other stroke. I can see that. So you have different techniques with pros-and cons.

If you want to have fun, try sculling with a forward sweep in a high brace and backwards with a reverse sweep in a low brace. Repeat until you have to roll…