Why can't I do a low brace turn?

I’ve been practicing stroke modeling for upcoming symposiums. I feel good with the forward strokes, sweep strokes, draw strokes, rudders, bracing, sculling, rolling, etc., but the low-brace turn isn’t happening for me.

I’ve tried varying how much lean and how much support to place on the paddle but I am making no progress in getting the boat (a Valley Nordkapp) to turn.

I’ve seen others make 100+ degree turns on a dime using a low-brace turn and now I’m wondering what I’m missing? Any suggestions, hints, video clips, advice, or assistance is appreciated!

which Nordkapp?


Drive with your knee
and rotate your torso. Try sweeping the blade forward as you edge and do the above. Look where you want to go. Practice in a looser boat to get the hang of it.

Initiate the turn with a sweep stroke
on the other side.

Then rotate your torso and start a low brace with the paddle about 45 degrees back from the perpendicular.

Now lean your weight onto the paddle and drive the boat around with your raised knee. Do not push at all with your lower leg.

Also make sure you are getting your boat way over onto its edge. Your skirt should be getting wet.

What they said – initiate with a sweep on the other side, roll to an aggressive inside edge, plant the paddle astern of abeam. Commit your upper body to the paddle and pull the bow around with your legs & abs – it feels a bit like doing a situp while lying sideways on the water.

Video of Low Brace Turn

Is this what you mean, rusty?

I do this… never knew what to call it… at the end of my small pond nightly. Why? The pond is narrow at the ends, and I have to negotiate a tight turn at each end. Isn’t it the same as a stern rudder, then glide into a low brace while turning. I don;t know, I just thought I’d show the vid.

what he said
I never got intuitive with bracing like most folks I"ve seen but the connection to rotation of the hull comes through a strong asymetric action in the gut driving through one side is what it takes.

poifect! nice one…
some people can be very graceful during one…then there is me…my instructor called me a bull in a china shop (but then he termed himself one too)…

nice smooth graceful turn…works well…

with practice you can swing 180` in one…

make sure to get up in a good low brace position…depending on how hard you want to turn is how hard you brace on that blade…


Very nice. Smooth.

I’d echo the sweep stroke on the other side thing.

I can’t get the video to run. I am new to paddling and want to visualize this turn. Do you edge the side of the boat opposite of the direction of the turn (edge the right side of the boat to turn it left)?

And your paddle is in the water on the right side of the boat, right?

Correct me if I am wrong.

try this:
You are going straight, want to do low brace on right:

  1. Forward sweep on the left, edging left ( left side closer to water)
  2. Transition edge to the right
  3. Rotate torso, look right ( you want to see stern ), shoulders parallel to the keel.
  4. Paddle ~45 degrees from the stern, back face on the water.
  5. Transfer your weight as much forward as you can

    5b hold it

    5c hold it some more
  6. Towards the end of the turn reverse sweep on the right.

    Possible variation - placing your paddle perpendicular to the boat, but way forward. This transfers a lot of weight forward helping to unlock stern. Also changes the end a bit.

Nordkapp Jubilee
I think I read somewhere that the Nordkapp Jubilee is one of the few boats that cannot do the low brace turn.

The nature of a low brace
is that you have to be out over the boat a bit and lower to the water - so a low brace turn necessarily has the inside edge down. But starting with a typical sweep stroke provides useful initial impulsion.

It does it just fine

Best Wishes


That’s funny…!
You’d be fun to down a few pints with me thinks.

You read it in Archie and Veronica…

– Last Updated: May-01-07 12:45 PM EST –

...Paddle with Jughead, Vol 45, issue 6, Bohemia, where Jughead himself could not low brace turn the Nordy to impress Veronica, and eventually became a swimmer on page 31. (readers often missed the fun on page 31, as it was between the advertisements for the Sea Monkeys on page 30 and the poker playing dogs--now available in temporary tattoos--on page 32)

So, yes, there is something to that.

Nice photographic memory, my dear Boheme.

I read that article, too.

– Last Updated: May-01-07 9:28 PM EST –

I think the Chatham 18 was the other boat. And the Tempest, but only when I paddle it.

On a serious note, some of you are just fantastic at giving good clear instructions on these strokes. I appreciate the questions, and especially the answers.

Paul S.
(edit: I'd better explain. The inside joke is that Bohemia has a C18 on layaway, I think.)

Yup - setup
Sometimes the “impressive” stuff paddlers do is like magic. Just like magic, what is actually happening is not where you are looking. Where you should be looking is a stroke or two BEFORE the stroke that does the cool move. If you do a couple of strong sweeps, edging your boat will make it want to turn. Try this without the low brace to see where it goes. See how much you can turn the boat using the turning momentum. I don’t know if it will work as well on a 'yak, but shifting the mass forward (lean forward) makes a big difference on rate of turn in a canoe.

Conversely, a low brace won’t effectively overpower momentum in the opposite direction.

good luck.

Some good advice, but…

– Last Updated: May-02-07 7:35 AM EST –

Good advice in this thread, especially to initiate with a good strong sweep.

But... a low brace turn in flat, calm conditions is somewhat of a party trick, rarely used in practice. A turn with inside edge is actually used in real life for...

(a) turning downwind, when the wind will help carry your bow around;

(b) turning down current, like breaking out of an eddy. As with the wind the current will carry the bow around. And you MUST be on an inside edge because that's down-current, otherwise the current will flip you.

So, an inside edge turn is fundamentally a turning bow turn (vs a turning stern). That's a clue to another aspect of doing it in non-moving water -- lean back a bit to unlock the bow. Also, bias your initiating sweep toward moving the bow sideways more than the stern.