Stern squirt possible in all WW kayaks?

Just curious. While searching for other out-of-print books, I picked up a used book from 1987 titled “The Squirt Book” by James Snyder, illustrated by William Nealy. I haven’t read it yet and probably won’t until late July (am reading too many books already).

It appears that it’s possible to learn some of the techniques on flat water. My question is, Does the boat to be used have to have very thin (shallow) ends?

Yesterday I tried to submerge the stern while sitting in the kayak (Jackson Sidekick) and could not do it. To see if it was just me not knowing how, I got out of the boat and SAT ON the stern. If I sat just behind the coaming rim, in the comfy depression in front of the bubble-like bulge, the kayak jauntily lifted its nose a bit but still sat very much on the surface of the water. If I moved backwards and sat right on the bubble and then bounced down as hard as I could, the kayak was forced down very briefly and then rebounded. If I tried bouncing from behind the bubble I slid off!

I’ve seen guys in other boats merely lean back and the rear end goes below the surface. I can fully recline back on the stern deck and the kayak sits flat. Does this mean a stern squirt is out of the question with this boat?

Slicey/Dicey Low Volume Ends

– Last Updated: Jun-11-10 1:24 PM EST –

hard to do squirts with the higher volume, rounded out bow and sterns of river runner type boats. Unless, of course, you are playing in serious big-time hydraulics to overcome the volume...

Used to do squirts on flat water easily with my low volume perception shock (slicey-dicey). My higher volume dagger ultrafuge can also do it on flat water because of the slicey ends.


Some river runners have a hook, a
short, flattish, thinner zone on the rear that can be engaged for stern squirts. One relatively new river runner that is designed for stern squirts, etc., is the Dagger Axiom. Also a relatively fast and slalomish boat, and probably good on fast, green waves in the west.

Too much volume in the stern

– Last Updated: Jun-11-10 1:43 PM EST –

That's what I was afraid of. There's no way I am going to try to learn something new in "big time hydraulics." Or even practice what I've done before.

The mountain snow is melting way too fast! Seems like it went from bare-boney to above-normal in no time. I hope there'll be enough left for mid- to late-summer.

This boat doesn’t have that
I need another boat like I need a hole in the head. But renting another boat is certainly reasonable.

Keep your ear out for a used slalom
boat. Modern designs really aren’t hard to paddle, at least in class 1-2+ water. Stern squirts were invented in slalom boats. Try to look only at the later, 11’ 6" designs. Even there, you may find yourself lopping a foot off the stern, and it will still stern squirt brilliantly.

Slalom boaters may be concentrated around Durango…

There’s a group of them in/near Golden

– Last Updated: Jun-11-10 2:03 PM EST –

Gates in the park, weekly sessions. I've enjoyed watching them before. Those are the ones that actually made me get interested in WW, before I even knew there was such a thing as slalom kayaking.

I need to get back to practicing there (the park, not the gates) regularly. I blew my chance last year after a late but good start the year before.

There's an Axiom for someone my size! Something to think about later on, maybe.

all white water gearswap in CO. Here’s slicey/dicey ole school playboat for a small paddler:

Offer $150 and see.


Your basic ww playboat
can do what you want and many combined riverrunner/playboats as well. Off the top of my hed am thinking Jackson 4 fun, 2 fun, Dagger RX and many more.

Some tips
It is easier to learn the technique with an “easy boat”. You have a river runner, not even a river playboat. It might make things a bit harder. Once you have the technique dialed in, things are quite different

You say that the stern does not submerge when you lean back. Here we have three possibilities - the boat is too big for you ( not likely, since its “best weight” is around 80lb), it is not trimmed properly, or you don’t know what you are doing :slight_smile:

Simple check - sit neutrally, lean forward. Lean back with a bit of speed, lock up your abs when your torso swings past vertical, hold. How much does the stern sink? What happens when you give a bit of edge when your swing past vertical?

Incidentally, if you rock boat back/forth while doing edge transitions while keeping your lower back straight, really cool things happen!

When you want to submerge the stern, you must try to do it with kayak edged - present smaller cross section to the water.

Anyways, start with trimming your kayak stern heavy, as much as you can. Water bladder in the stern will help even further :wink:

So, it goes like this

  • paddle forward to get a bit of speed, stroke on your left is last
  • wind up to one side, if your kayak is turning to the right (as it should be), you wind up to the right. Wind up has to be pretty extreme, to get the right blade in the water for right - reverse stroke. Look at that right blade
  • get the left edge down, transfer the weight to the stern.
  • pop your legs up while looking at the right blade with corner of your right eye. Don’t forget to tilt your head a bit back. This is where abs come into play - too much angle, the twist is going to be compromised, not enough - stern is not going to be weighed enough.

    Eddy lines make it so easier!

Stern pivot

Try this with your stern under a very small pourover or in a very small hole.

Fill the boat with water …
It’s not quite the same but if you fill the boat with water you can get a feel for stalling the bow and stern.

You must be quite thin Pat, I think I would be sinking the stern just trying to fit in that thing.

Boat should be right size for me
The recommended paddler weight range I’ve seen for this boat is 80 to 120 or 80 to 130 (have seen it both ways). I’m under 110 but probably at 110 when wearing wetsuit and booties. I have to position the bulkhead (footrests) as far ahead as possible, so for once I’m actually at the top of the size range.

When I learn forward while paddling forward, the trim does alter enough that I can paddle upstream. The bow digs in just enough for that.

I tried the exact thing you described (quickly lean back, lock up abs when torso goes behind vertical, hold). The stern squatted down but didn’t go under the water. And it didn’t sink much. That’s when I got out of the boat and tried to sink it while sitting behind the cockpit.

Next time out, I’ll try the other things you mentioned. If nothing else, I might get some interesting roll practice.

I have one of KW’s videos, which includes the same thing. But I always like to have a concise printed piece instead of firing up devices when I want to check quickly to make sure I’m hitting all the details.

Since it’s a cold and steady rain today, I’ll watch that video again along with “hitting the books” (it’s all kayak- or marine-related).

Suiram is right
Stern squirts were originally a way of turning quickly when exiting an eddy. Essentially you do just the opposite of what you would do when peeling out – edge into the current. But of course you do a reverse sweep at the same time. If you capsize, just do a sweep roll.

Well, stern squirts were invented by c-1
slalom paddlers who were screwing around. At first the point was to get as vertical as possible with the stern submerged almost to your back. That was easier in the slalom boats of the 80s than it is in today’s boats, because both the bow and stern of boats in the 80s were extra slicey.

Later, designers such as Lugbill/Hearn found that more bow volume was better, some side rails were better, and that those side rails had to go back part way into the stern. These changes actually made it easier to come out of an eddy and dip just enough to present the rail to the current. With the old slicey boats, this was a less controllable procedure.

So, I’m pretty sure that stern squirts were a kind of playboating, not a calculated new approach to turning into or out of eddies. But if you want, I can ask some old racers on

You are a baaaaaad influence
Boat slut!

Hope you caught some fish on your darkside paddle.

History is murky

– Last Updated: Jun-14-10 4:46 PM EST –

Here is an article by Chris Joosse that explains it thoroughly. Joosse repeats what I was also told by a long time paddler who used to do slalom racing. It could be wrong. If you really want to do stern squirts, often when you don't intend to do so, get a Dagger RPM.

Oops! Here is the URL:

Not that murky. No link to your article

– Last Updated: Jun-14-10 4:25 PM EST –

but Bill Endicott, in "The Ultimate Run- Canoe Slalom at the Highest Levels" describes how c-1 paddlers he coached slimmed down a succession of race boats so that they could undercut gates and spin faster.

When they tried those boats, they discovered pirouette and pivot turns while playing around and while running gates in practice.

So it's fairly clear that boat ends were not originally slimmed and side-sharpened because someone thought up the pivot turn in his head and then designed a boat that could do pivot turns. Boats were slimmed to slip under gates (typically lower at that time) and to spin faster, and then the pivot turn evolved through successive experience.

This evolution carried through the Max II in '77, the Supermax in '78-'79, the Ultramax in the '79 Worlds, where Lugbill won, the Cudamax in 1980, and finally the Batmax in '82.

Endicott quotes Bob Lugbill: "The Max series is responsible for the pivoting found in boating today. The narrow bow and stern made it possible to sink either end in the water that the other end would stick way up in the air. Today you can do an actual back ender in flat water. The art of goofing around adds amusement on a river run or training session, but it also has very practical applications in racing. With one end down and the other end up, the water line is shortened and the boat spins faster."

But later, by the '96 Olympics, pivot turns really had no clearly identifiable pivot, because the other end of the boat was not lofted into the air. And racers now realise that a pivot turn involves using the stern as an undercutting blade so that the boat can turn around and preserve momentum, riding partly on its outer side. I saw lots of bow-lofting pivot turns in the '85 Nationals. I saw almost no bow lofting turns in the '96 Olympics.

So the pivot turn in its most obvious form has returned to the playboating realm. But I can do a pivot turn in an open canoe, just by leaning back and catching the outer stern edge in an eddy so the boat spins and turns up through a gate.

I had an RPM I’d have loved to pass on
But I traded it for a lesson…

Much easier to squirt something with a flat stern, but the flat stern also makes a boat much less forgiving for the newer paddler. Can you say flip over the squirrely eddy line?

That RPM (the Dagger Axiom is reminiscent of the RPM design) was a river runner play boat. RPM stood for “Radical Play Machine.”

I’d look on Boater Talk if you want something like that. RPM might go for 300 bucks.

Renting is also possible, but why rent when you can possess?

I watched a friend’s kid learn to stern squirt in his itty bitty fuse in a big flow eddy. No scary hydraulic necessary, kid got it in a couple of weekends.

When a girlfriend of mine went from a river runner to a Jackson Fun she’d go unintentionally squirting once she’d went over the smallest of drops. All she had to do was get the stern under anywhere near the pour over and her Fun would go skipping away.

The look on her face the first time that happened was priceless!