Turning techniques for shallow v canoe -

My new used shallow shallow vee hull canoe paddles

quick and tracks great!

While paddling it solo, I noticed on a couple of

occasions that I would have liked to have been able

to turn it quicker than I could. I found that if I

leaned to the side I wanted to turn to, and did a

reverse arc stroke, it turned right now. Problem

with that is that speed reduces greatly as a trade-off.

Does anybody know any techniques for shallow shallow

vee hulls and turning that retain some speed?


Lean away from the direction
of the turn and just keep paddling if you want to maintain speed. If you want to turn quickly you will lose speed but it can be done by the freestyle manuvers called axle, post or wedge. Quick turn=loss of speed, gradual turn=speed maintained.

If you are not familiar with the freestyle turns I will send you a description by email or you can find them in many sources about freestyle paddling…just google.

Which boat?
If it’s an Indy or a Malecite an outside heel will help you turn by carving along the curve of the hull.

I’ve found the Indy reponsive to an inside heel as well, carving an inside circle. That is not as strong as the outside heel but if my technique is good it works well.

Either of those will allow you to turn without corections that kill your momentum.

Soloing my Explorer I’ve found none of those very effective. Heeling frees up the ends but I still need to J, pry, sweep or draw to turn it. All those corrections steal momentum.

turning with shallow V hull
I have a shallow V bottom relatively straight-keeled MRC Traveler which is just over 16 feet long. Turning a boat that long without significant rocker can be a chore.

If you don’t need to turn tightly, just lean offside so that the hull is planing on the opposite “flat” and keep paddling with good forward strokes. If you need to turn tighter, transition your forward stroke to a progressively more pronounced “C-stroke” with a slight diagonal bow draw component at the start, and a slight J component at the end.

If you need to turn tighter still, you will need to use a more aggressive turning stroke. A Duffek will kill some of your momentum but turn you much tighter. The freestyle maneuver called an onside “Post” uses this stroke.

If you are paddling on the right side and want to turn right, get some momentum going with good forward strokes. Heel the boat to the left as you initiate the turn with a C-stroke with a rather pronounced “J” at the end. Now plant an onside Duffek which is a static turning draw on the right side. Lean forward some and put the paddle in with a relatively vertical shaft angle so that the power face is facing the bow of the canoe and is angled about 45 degrees to the keel line of the boat. The blade should go in at about the front of your knee. The momentum of the canoe will cause the water to impact the power face of the blade and draw the bow to your right. You need to brace the paddle firmly so the paddle doesn’t move further out from the boat.

As the boat turns it will slow a bit. As it does, draw the paddle in towards the bow of the boat and smoothly convert to a forward stroke.

You can do the same thing using an onside heel and an onside Duffek/bow draw/forward stroke which the freestylers would call an “Axle”, but it doesn’t turn the boat quite as dramatically.

You can also turn with an onside lean and a reverse sweeping low brace, which I think is what you were describing. This turns you quite effectively but kills your forward momentum most of all. There may be times when you want to do just that.

Nice Descriptions
It isn’t often that someone describes this kind of stuff so clearly.

Yup, good advice provided by all. nm


– Last Updated: Sep-03-09 12:05 PM EST –

An outside heel is the key to turning V bottoms. The why is simple. Take and envelope, any corner representing the V. Point the corner down, then turn, heel, it to both sides.

An inside heel presents an almost vertical wall of composite to the water, inhibiting inside-heeled skidded turns. An outside heel presents the outside V plane at a very soft angle to the water, allowing easy water flow under the hull.

Tommy's stated carving bow benefit also enhances the skid, deflecting the bow into the turn.

Duffeks further enhances the skid, it do rob momentum. Try a freespin without benefit of paddle or accelerate through the turn with sweeping cross forward strokes.

just for the record…
CEW is spot on, re: offside heels for V bottoms. I suspect that the turn O.P. is describing a hard J correction or a turning pry which dramatically turns the hull to the onside but results in an almost complete stop. The sweeping low brace that Pblanc describes is known as a Christy. It is less of a momentum killer but is an onside heeled maneuver. This is initiated by a hard J (but not too hard) to get the hull moving to the onside, followed by an onside heel, then paddle placement in the low brace configuration parallel and next to the hull in the reverse quadrant. Light pressure is applied during the turn until momentum dies then a draw to the bow to conclude.

Good descriptions and good reasons…

– Last Updated: Sep-03-09 2:56 PM EST –

Good reasons NOT to put shallow Vs on canoes. What's the benefit?

I keep paddling the MR Explorer thinking that I'm eventually going to be swayed to join the legions that sing its praise. Hasn't happened yet. But everyone thinks it is a great boat so I'm assuming the source of my discontent is probably "user error".

What really worries me is that I'll get back in a proper canoe that handles like a canoe should and I'll have all these habits (like turning with an outside edge carve) from the MRE that will ruin me as a canoeist.

Then again, I've never been more than an average canoeist, so no great loss to the sport.

President and sole member of Paddlers that don't like MREs Club.


– Last Updated: Sep-04-09 6:42 AM EST –

I was going to chime in with my 2 cents, but all that of value, that can or should be said on this subject has already been except:

There is no good substitute for good, old fashioned, hands on instruction. The comments posted on this forum and covered in various books and other sources only go so far. One of the best places to get such instruction and at very reasonable cost is at a freestyle symposium. Some of the best paddlers/instructors in the country attend these events including several regulars on this forum. The Midwest FS Symposium is coming up next weekend (Sept 11-13) in northern Ohio. If that's not convenient, there is the Adirondack FS Symposium in July and likely a new symposium outside of Jacksonville, Florida in March. Information on the 1st two is available on the freestyle website www.freestylecanoeing.com . Information on the Jacksonville event should be posted shortly.

Even though it is well past the official registration deadline, I suspect the organizers of the Midwest event would accept a late registration.

Marc Ornstein
Dogpaddle Canoe Works
Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Maybe someday.
The Midwest symposium is closest to me and it’s about a 800 mile round trip for me. I can’t afford such trips these days. Maybe in a year or two.

Freestyle Malecite ?
Hey Mark,

Think you can teach me to spin an MR Malecite?

So far about the only efficient turn I’ve got on that is with an offside heel.

It’s the stiffest boat I own since I got rid of the J200.


I hope…
that Marc will respond, but meanwhile on a broader note. I have been advocating for years that the stiffer the hull the more the paddler needs Freestyle instruction. It takes greater skills to efficiently turn a hull like this rather than one that spins more freely. After all, FS is really just advanced technical skills, hiding behind a fancy name.


I’d love some hands-on instruction…
… with that sort of stuff. Like Yanoer, it’s just too long of a trip for me these days. In this economy I have more time than ever, but that means my income is pretty minimal too. In the meantime, I’ll just keep messing around with what seems to work, and occasionally discover that one technique or another I’m using actually has a fancy name, and that I could probably perform it better with a few pointers from someone in-the-know. Right now, I can live with that.

Spinning a Malecite

Bring it to MFS and I’ll give it a try. I’ll make it spin or swim trying.


Sinking a Malecite; turning an Explorer
I thought I saw a sinking Malecite at the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium. Also a lot of water in a Dogpaddle Illusion. Trying to remember if it was the same paddler in both boats.

As to the topic, lots of good advice about turning, but is anyone claiming this is specific to a shallow V canoe? I’m assuming this is applicable to any canoe.

I own an Explorer and like it, though I haven’t paddled it in a long time. In flatwater, I almost always turned it onside with an inside heel (axle) rather than an outside heel (post). Three reasons.

First, that’s how I learned to turn in whitewater.

Second, it’s hard to reach across a 36" wide canoe for a duffek post when you are leaned offside, especially with a shorter flatwater paddle.

Third, I paddled flatwater solo on a wide cane seat mostly heeled Algonquin style.

Simple to spin most tandems
Tandems tend to be kinda wide. Acquire the center of the boat. Lay the beast to the rail. You won’t notice, but in most 34-36" wide tandems this lifts the stems way out of the water. AN 18 footer on its side becomes a 12 foot WW hull with ~9" of rocker at both ends

The ultimate spin move is the inner gimble, a sweep, [or reverse sweep for a reverse gimble], with the paddle carried under the boat at a slight dive angle to keep it from thunking on it’s path.

Pat Moore did this ~1978 in a Grumman with a chip shovel.

The secret

You had to give away the secret. I was all set to make them think I could do some sort of magic with the Malecite and then you come along telling them it’s easy. Just when I was about to have some fun.

As to Glenn’s remarks. I take full credit for every ounce …er make that gallon of water in the Illusion but I had nothing to do with the sinking Malecite.

I just came in from the pond. The Illusion was bone dry inside although my knee was wet from dragging in the water on the cross axle.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Ya’ll are speaking a language I do
not understand. I have 3 canoes so I feel I have missed something.Anyone do classes down heah?

Agree: and the shallow V needs more lean
Not sure of my terminology. Is a more rounded bottom like a OT Tripper a “shallow arch”? Regardless, such hulls begin to get the stems up and short, rockered profile much earlier in the lean than does the shallow V of the Explorer. The first lean of the Explorer sets it on a side of the V. The stems don’t rise out of the water and no rocker is gained. If you lean it until the gunwale is in the water, yes, you get the short, rockered-boat affect.

When the boat is loaded, it’s harder to get the boat to lean that much. I seem to remember, when the boat was loaded with a few hundred pounds, having both knees right up in the chines and my butt on the gunwale and being disappointed I couldn’t get the lean and shortened turning radius I was looking for.

Readily admit my disappointing results with the Explorer could be due to user error. Training. One of these days. Wilson, Ornstein and others undoubtedly know what they are talking about. But that’s my $0.02.