Todays astute observation

If I lean the kayak the wrong way during a bow rudder I will flip over in a heart beat. Being me, I just had to do it three times just to make sure.

I spent a lot of time swimming to shore this evening.

It’s easier to remember the right direction if you fully rotate your torso and plant the paddle vertically. Anything less than that strong an angle makes it feel too much like another kind of turn.

I was
just beginning to figure out that it worked better if I rotated a little more than I started with. I did get some nice turns in bfore calling it a day.

Fortunately I have a good strong side stroke(swimming technique).

start with a sweep
If you start your bow rudder with a bow-sweep on the opposite side, you should be able to set the proper edge and just keep it when you plant the rudder.

Works better if you initiate the turn that way, too.

bow rudder
OK. So never having been in a kayak except for SOT, lets see:

If I lean right and bow rudder on right I’m OK or I’m swimming?

I’m trying to picture this.

Will be in new kayak this week (most likely an Isle 18 but I still have to check out the Nighthawk 17)

Should be an interesting week.

As an aside I was learning about rolling and came across this video; A guy called Dubside in a rolling competition using traditional (Greenland or Inuit ) names. Gets really deep, almost cultish. I’m loving it.

I could not I.D. any of the kayaks in this video but a couple looked like skin on frame.

Cannot wait to get wet!!

aha,. you said you lean
but you don’t lean. You edge the boat but stay torso upright. Hence the boat leans. Not you. Your trunk is parallel to tree trunks.

Same in a canoe. Edged toward the side the paddle is planted on the turn is slower than when the boat is edged on the opposite side of the bow rudder…that is a carved turn.

Generally kayaks like to carve better. Canoes just spin faster.

if you
lean right and bow rudder right you will swim. The correct procedure is to sweep stroke on the left(which turns the boat right), during the sweep stroke you lean the boat(properly called edging or edge)to the left and plant the blade power face forward in whats called an open position. Done properly the boat turns nicely and gracefully to the right and all the people watching are impressed. If you lean/edge to the right then you flip over and all the people think you are a dork once they realize you are OK.

If you practice and use it enough
after a while you don’t even think about it and just become like a fish, you and the boat working in unison, instinctively, the paddle a surrogate fin.

Of course, you will sometimes actually experience a more fishlike environment on the pathway to that state.

I was
edging to the wrong side. Actually having reviewed video of it being done correctly, I was not edging at all until the sweep stroke was completed. Then as I went to plant the blade on the right I was edging to the right, then the blade went in and over I went, three times for good measure. After that is when I started getting the left edge in before planting the blade.

edge that boat to the paddle side
you just get a weak turn. You do not necessarily swim though there is less bracing opportunity if you lean your head too far over the side and deviate from your torsos verticality.

Its easier to edge the boat to the outside of the turn… Few people want to instinctively lean to the outside of the turn and automatically keep their head toward the middle of the boat/inside of the turn…

It’ll hold you
As above, edge not lean, easier to do in a properly fitting SINK than in a SOT because of the thigh braces.

But - after the sweep (and some speed going into the turn or nothing happens) rotate torso as fully as possible to the uphill side of the boat and plant the paddle as vertically as you can in the water, not way forward but more like between side and knee depending on your flexibility, blade neutral so not far off of parallel to the boat’s front to back plane. When I do this right I can actually just lean out against the hold of the paddle on the water to sharpen the angle of the run. The water will hold you.

Try the same thing on the downhill side… as said, oops.

or, as Leon Somme says,
you’ll go from an oxygen rich to a low oxygen environment

Once you do it enough times, it will work to different levels of effectiveness irregardless of which side you edge.

For kicks and giggles ( more like flips and rolls) try a bow pry.

And, the cross bow rudder and pry are something that each kayaker should attempt as well.

Edging vs leaning
I am assuming that by leaning we are speaking of edging,

torso perpendicular to water but weighting more to one side , correct??

I’m thinking I’ll play with it and at some point it will click. I suppose with formal lessons, less swimming but the water is warm this time of year so I may go solo until frustration sets in.

is the best of all instructors.”

~Publilius Syrus

Although with a whitewater boat, an inside lean can work well. I took a class from a former slalom racer and we spent a lot of time on duffeks. Great fun with the right boat and conditions.

It only took one attempt to realize that it didn’t translate to a sea kayak…

Doesn’t translate well to my slalom
c-1 either, unless there is a big hump of water just on the outside of the turn on which to bank the flat underside of the boat. On a standard upstream turn into an eddy and up through a gate, one might cross the eddy line with the boat leaned “inside”, toward the duffek or bow rudder, but then one often tips the boat outside, cutting the stern under the water and engaging the outside chine, with the bow rudder still engaged. On a lucky day, the boat may keep a good part of its speed and turn through the gate without an additional stroke.

Glad I saw this post
Thanks for posting. I was always unsure about the bow rudder and after seeing the comments in this thread decided to look at some video. It’s not at all a bow rudder and more of a midship rudder compared to what I had thought.

I can edge and roll but I have neglected to learn this skill. I’m heading out to the lake now to give it a try.

Thanks again.


of the videos I have seen are a bit confusing. In some it clearly looks as though the blade is going in the water about the foot or ankle area. In others it looks like the blade is going in the water at the knee or mid thigh area. Some seem to have a slightly open blade position and some seem to have a significantly open blade position.

In all of them it seems as though the blade eventually comes close to the hull and you transition into a forward stroke.

There is
definitely a lot about kayaking that is counterintuitive and edging to the outside of a turn is one thing I am having trouble with, but getting better at slowly.