Bracing provides support while leaning your kayak: 1) more aggressive boat handling during turns; and 2) involves several recovery strokes/maneuvers to avoid capsizes. Mastering bracing strokes is also fundamental for developing good roll recover techniques.
A bracing stroke helps regain stability as you lean past your capsizing point - that point at which your center of gravity is beyond the boat’s capsizing threshold.
The three components of a brace are: 1) proper position of the blade; 2) stopping the capsize movement; and 3) returning to a stable position. There are five types of bracing strokes:
Low - Paddle is held with hands higher than elbows; the back of the blade is used to push against the surface. This is a quick motion that provides an instant of resistance as you counter by leaning self/boat back to a stable, upright position.
High - Hands positioned higher than elbows; the power face of the paddle is presented to the surface. The high brace provides more leverage and support and enables the paddler additional paddling/stroke maneuvering for other bracing options.
Extended - The low/high brace keep hands in normal positions; for extended, the outside hand grips the paddle blade while the bracing side is extended even further into the lean to provide more support and leverage.
Slap - Executing a slap on the water’s surface using your paddle blade provides a critical moment of resistance, enabling you resume a stable position. The slap is typically initiated during the high (or low) brace at the surface. The support from the “slap” can be extended with additional sweeping/power strokes as needed.
Scull - Follow-up strokes associated with a brace is a sculling stroke in which the paddle is used to fan the water’s surface providing a dynamic range of support as pressure is kept on the blade throughout it moving arc.
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