How to Turn Your Kayak

The upright position boat edged, all my weight is in my right hip. My left knee is up, and that's giving it fine control. I'm rotated, and my blade is in that climbing angle. So when I pull it back through the water, it's time to come to the surface all the time.

I'm pushing hard with my right foot, and then I swap to a lean on my left. The blade was in the back, and it sweeps toward the front. A forward sweep and I'm pushing with my right foot, reversing and I'm pulling with my right knee because I'm leaning rather than edging.

My head is turned. I'm looking to the side I'm turning towards. On the forward sweep I'm definitely looking the way I want the boat to go. The reverse sweep, I'm turning and looking at the blade in the water. The forward sweep pushing hard on my right foot, reverse sweep pulling hard on my right knee.

For the forward sweep the kayak is edged to the right with the weight on the right buttock and the left knee is up. As the sweep stroke is made, push on the right foot to transfer the power to the boat looking in the direction of the turn.

For the reverse sweep stroke, change to the left edge with the weight on the left buttock and the right knee up. As the sweep stroke is made, pull with the right knee against the underside of the deck to transfer the power into the boat. This time look to the paddle as it makes the turn. Once that's working, we can add refinements.

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I've talked about climbing blade angle during a sweep stroke if we have the blade vertical, it knifes into the water and we get no support from it. If it's horizontal, it slices through the water, and we get no power from it. So what we want is somewhere between the two so that when we're powering the blade, we're getting a mix between power and support.

We've come to an island off Armadale in the south of Skye to develop our sweep stroke techniques in a little rougher water.

Everything that was done before is just the same. We still have to edge and lean. We still have to be using our lower body to drive the boat around. Forward sweep; I'm driving the boat around with my right foot. On the reverse, I'm pulling it round with my right knee. I've got a climbing angle on the blade, forwards and reverse. And as I'm doing it, I'm edging to the right and leaning on my left. That's edging on the forward sweep in a high brace position and leaning on my left because I'm in a low brace position.

I'm leaning on the reverse in a low brace position, and I'm pushing hard with my right foot in the forward sweep. My right knee is bringing the boat around in the reverse and my right foot in the forward. So a low brace position on the reverse and a high brace position on the forward, trying to time it on the crest of the waves. So reverse - close my knee, forwards push with my foot. Reverse on the left, and I'm still looking where I want to go as well.

Remember doing these sweeps, especially in rougher water, we can change the sweep into a brace. On the forward sweep I need to brace. I go to a low brace, and that gives me support. On the reverse it's very similar, but we have to change the brace into a high brace and come up from there. So from a low brace I can brace here and bring myself back up.

So something to practice. Sweep strokes on the move will be covered in the next coaching session.

The video clip shown above is a segment taken from the DVD:  Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Vol. 1

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