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Adjusting Trim in a Canoe

Trim is one of the most important things we can have in the open canoe, and it's about how much of the boat is getting impacted by the wind or the current. And in this case, we're going to be looking at what trim is, and what we need to do when we're dealing with the wind.

Journeying upwind 

I'm looking to try and get the bow a little bit stern-heavy. Two options: First off, we shuffle forward off the thwart and that helps bring the weight down. If I need a little bit more, then my rucksack, which is on a leash, pop that further forward and that makes going up the wind easier. So trim upwind needs to be bow-heavy.

Journeying downwind 

We need to move back onto the thwart, and we bring the rucksack back, all the time keeping that planted paddle in the stern rudder, and that makes going downwind so much easier. So journeying downwind, stern needs to be heavy. If the wind's a little bit stronger, then I've got another option, and that is to move a little further back and be sitting on the stern seat, and that, again, will just make sure the stern is anchored. So journeying downwind, trim stern-heavy.

Trimming across the wind 

We've got a couple of options then. I can stay on my downwind side, as I am just now. The wind's coming from over my right-hand shoulder, and I'm pushing the bow up all the time. It does get quite hard work the whole time because I'm fighting the wind. Other option is to shuffle slightly forward, so trim weight forward, paddling on the upwind side. This means that I'm working with the wind a little bit more. So the nose is looking to turn into the wind, and I'm paddling nice and easily across it. So two options in the wind going across: I can trim slightly further forward and paddle on the upwind side as I'm doing just now, or I can stay where I am, back on my kneeling thwart, and paddle on the downwind side. Two options in the wind.

Okay, so we've now looked at trim journeying upwind, we've looked at it downwind, and then options for going across the wind. It's really important to get the trim sorted for our boat, and it's about anchoring the boat to the environment, and that's going to make our life just a little bit easier so we can journey faster, but it also is less effort on the body. So it's about anchoring one end of the boat into the water, which means the wind doesn't push us around. 

This video is courtesy of Glenmore Lodge in Scotland featuring instructor Dave Rossetter. Glenmore Lodge offer a range of Open Boating / Canoeing courses from April to November.

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