Turning with a rudder?

Today I bought a Carolina 16 with a rudder. Before I develop my own technique for using the rudder to turn I was hoping someone could tell me the proper way to turn using the rudder. Do I just turn the rudder in the direction in which I want to turn while paddling both sides or what?


Rudders are not for turning.

– Last Updated: Jun-06-05 9:07 AM EST –


I cannot speak for your boat's maneuverability, but rudders are best used to maintain a heading in a wind. Most hulls "weathercock", or have a tendancy to want to turn into the wind. The rudder acts as a way to trim the hull and allow control.

Work on sweeps, bow rudders, and if you fit the seat and are able to lean the boat you can try carving turns.

I predict that you will receive many responses!


My speling was atroshus last nite

It’s an oxymnoron
Jsaults is right.

Rudders are for going straight. Leaning and edging a boat are for turning. As skills increase, the use of the rudder seems to decrease.

I did notice that the Carolina 16 turns alot better when I lean into her a bit.

not to be at loggerheads but
there are some very few exceptions. I’ve got a Necky Looksha II and it is totally rudder dependent for any control during turns…soon will compare side by side with a QCC 700 (with drop down skeg)…

Guess I’m Part Of The Minority
I admit that I am a beginner and have a lot to learn. I have a QCC700 with a rudder and I use the rudder frequently.

I’ve learned that it is very useful both in downwind and upwind situations in helping to keep the boat tracking striaght. I also use the rudder to assist in stearing when moving slowly such as when I am moving down a narrow and winding creek.

Turning the QCC on a dime can be done using the same techniques as with other boats and that is how I normally turn. However, turns with the rudder and sweeps, and some paddle rudder can be done in a much smaller radius.

Yep, I understand all about cutting into turns with a hip lean, and I understand corrective forward stokes, and I understand sweep strokes, and I understand rudder strokes. And I use all these strokes and the boat reacts well to them. But, I also use the rudder and I use it both as a skeg to help keep the boat tracking well, and I use it to help steer the boat sometimes.


Rudders are not for turning II

– Last Updated: Jun-07-05 9:09 AM EST –

I would like to reinforce that rudders are not for turning your kayak unless you have a new set up that some of us are not aware of. They are generally for course correction. We are human powered and ballasted. Leans and sweeps are for turning. I know there are some responses here from newer paddlers that they use them a lot or that they use them to turn their boats and if you find that allowing your rudder to be hard over, slowing you down and turning your boat while you expend energy providing the needed thrust to maintain water flow over that rudder surface to complete the turn then cool. If you are enjoying yourself then thats all you need to know. But, if you want to plan a few seconds ahead, lean your rocker-less boat (to give it rocker) and turn with your paddle or sweep your rockered boat with your paddle you will expend less energy and fluidly turn your boat. You'll love it once you get it down. Sure, use the rudder if it helps but getting your boat up on it's "side", it's chine if it's that type properly to turn is going to minimize the rudders lateral resistance anyways so leave it be and learn to turn your boat using it's hull and your paddle. Obviously, there may be some hulls out there with lots of rocker and the rudder is used to assist in keeping them straight while paddling distances. A rudder on a rockered boat would probably turn it very well but if it's rockered then you should be able to turn it with technique sans rudder or with rudder assist if you desire.
The one exception I have found where I must rudder is when I paddle my Chesapeake 17 in narrow river turns against the current. It has ZERO rocker (think of a 16 1/2 foot long 2 X 4 on edge) and I have found it necessary to use the rudder to swing my stern in an assisted hard port or starboard turn occasionally.

Being a Devil’s Advocate
I admit to using it sometimes when I am paddling lazy. You know, bird watching, being half asleep on a sunny day etc.


I got a warning ticket yesterday for
using my rudder to turn after I’d been practicing turning and steering without the rudder for about an hour & a half in pretty strong winds. I was tired of using strong leans, sweeps & rudders and wanted to relax. The Sawyer Summersong (Summer Song?) isn’t that easy for a novice like me to turn quickly, though I’ve improved much since I bought it last Monday.

I understand that my technique will improve more rapidly if I don’t use the rudder for turning, but if I already have it in the water for tracking, why pull it up to make a turn just so I can say I don’t use the rudder for turning? That would be silly, wouldn’t it?

Is there a built in self-destruct mechanism in rudders that will activate if the rudder is used too much for turning?

Of course that’s silly
I think the point is that one should not become so dependant on the rudder that they fail to develop the skills that will make them proficient, safe paddlers. How will you maintain control in a steep following sea that lifts your rudder out of the water?

At some point the cable
will break . I replace rudder lines on guest boats a whole lot more than on the guide boats , as the guides do not use the rudders , THEY are the rudders . M