Turning Technique

-- Last Updated: Sep-04-08 8:40 PM EST --

After reading the carve vs skid thread I realized that I have always edged my kayak to the outside of the turn except when doing a trailing low brace turn. For sea-kayaks what is the difference in the turning when edging outside vs edging inside the turn? When (or what situations) would you want to use one method over the other?

Is it different for WW kayaks or for canoes?


It is really quite simple
Paddle a sea kayak in a straight line and then edge to the left. Almost all sea kayaks will naturally turn to the right. For a forward sweep stroke use this tendency, and edge to the outside of the turn. But edging either way assists the kayak in turning. For a reverse sweep stroke it works well to edge to the inside of the turn and edging to the inside in a low brace turn is fine. Paddle a WW boat in a straight line and then edge to the left. Almost all WW boats will naturally turn to the left.

If I care about my forward speed I lean to the outside. If I really need to turn quickly and don’t mind losing forward momentum I lean to the inside.

My Nigel Foster Shadow and P&H

– Last Updated: Sep-04-08 11:18 PM EST –

Capella both will turn in either direction when edged. It depends on which side of the boat I initiated the turn.

I usually edge away from the turn, but when surfing a wave, a low brace turn puts you in the correct position to brace into the wave. So basically, when you need the support of the paddle, is when a low or high brace turn is called for. The only other time I would use a low brace or high brace turn is to show off.

Kudzu are you saying
that edging to the inside turns the kayak faster than edging to the outside requardless of the paddle stroke you are using at the time? For example assume I am using a bow rudder to turn right. If I edge to the inside and use the bow rudder I will turn faster (but lose more speed) than if I use the bow rudder while edging to the outside.

Not trying to argue, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying.


Dr. Disco
Are you saying that the type of paddle stroke being used to do the turn is the most important thing in determining which way to edge? For example there is not advantage to edging to the outside if doing a low brace and it may even be disadvantage because I will not edge as far since I do not have the bracing stroke. Same for a forward sweep where I get more support leaning to the outside.

Trying to make sure of your exact meaing.


the boat away from the direction of turn.

Touring should only see positive strokes otherwise you are braking.

Driving on the highway a truck driver will try to avoid braking because it costs fuel to get back up to speed. Same in a kayak.

Surfing, white water, canoeing are all different sports.

Once you are surfing you are no longer touring and that is a skill used to get to a take out through a swell.



An inside lean won’t turn a slalom
boat faster than an outside lean. But that’s just one kind of boat.

Bow Rudder = Losing Forward Speed

– Last Updated: Sep-06-08 9:57 AM EST –

What I really had in mind was a low brace turn. It's a fairly quick turn but it slows down the boat. For the most part if I can avoid slowing down the boat I do.

No, I don't think leaning inside or outside the turn makes much difference regarding drag on the hull but it's very different ergonomically. For instance I could round a right hand corner on my road bike and counter-balance the bike to the left... but why?

OC1 in WW
Many people here more qualified than me to answer, but in my OC1, I always learned to lean the boat into the turn. For OC1, I think Tom Foster’s DVD is great.


edging the boat shortens the water line
making the boat easier to turn. Think ballarinas and basketball players: to turn, they go up on the balls of their feet. A basketball player who stands flat-footed doesn’t turn so well. It’s the same in boats. Short WW “spuds” turn on a dime. It’s the sweep stroke that initiates the turn, however. You can edge either way and still turn to the right. But let’s think about your stern: If you edge left and sweep on the left, your stern will slide across the surface of the water to the left like a butter knife spreading butter across bread, turning the boat right. If you edge right and sweep left, your stern will now catch water, unless it’s lifted up, out of the water all the way. I learned early on (in dramatic fashion) that you want to edge AWAY from oncoming current when you cross an eddyline. Otherwise the water piles up on that side and flips your boat. It’s the same thing in surf–you “moon the beach”, otherwise you get flipped. For a low brace turn, if I want to turn right, 1) edge left, 2) sweep left, then 3) edge right and 4) hold my paddle just off the water in low brace position, perpendicular to the boat. The transition from edge to edge needs to be quick–a “snap”. If you want a tighter turn, plant the blade in the water and reverse sweep. This will kill your forward momentum, but we use this on the edge of the surf zone when a boomer is coming in and we want to turn quick (“Outside!”). I thought this one summed it up best:


Easy principles for sea kayak
1. Edging either way makes turning easier.

2. Forward sweeps turn the boat with less effect on momentum.

3. You can edge either way when you do a forward sweep but it generally is better to edge to the outside. It is awkward to edge to the inside and you lose paddle support (and most likely amount of edging).

4. For a low or high brace turn you edge to the inside in order to get paddle support. You lost a lot of momentum but turn quickly (if you edge sufficiently).

5. For a bow draw, edge to the inside.

Although I can turn at least some sea kayaks by edging either way, usually it works best by edging (for example) left side down to turn right, and vice versa.

It works best to do the opposite in the WW boat. I am having to retrain myself for that boat.

Funny how it is also possible to paddle the WW boat on edge and go STRAIGHT, switch edging sides and still go straight! What odd things they are. But as soon as I LOOK to one side, there it goes…