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||Posted: July 11 2006,09:36
Last but not least in this series, I simply must relate some great advice by perhaps one of the best paddlers and teachers I know of: Nigel Foster. Nigel is very familiar with Florida waters and has published a fine series of tapes and DVD's on kayaking.
He is considered a master of paddling technique and control. He has designed six kayaks, perhaps most notably the Seaward Legend (17'10" x 21" x 56 lb), published a goodly number of books on touring and paddling and runs kayaking clinics.
I own two of Foster's DVD's - but the one to own is surely is Vol. 3, Directional Control. In this volume Nigel covers: edging, high and low pressure, the tail skid, low brace turns, sweep and skim, the sculling draw, bow rudder, linked rudders, side slip, stern draw and stern rudder, and turning in the wind.
It is a tour de force.
Good forward stroke DVD's are available from Foster, Brent Reitz and Greg Barton. But once you have a decent forward stroke, Directional Control has no equals for all around kayak handling. Now there is no way I can adequately relate Foster's magnificent work, so let's leave it at this...
Buy this DVD. You will NOT be sorry and will thank me. It's simply impossible to adequately describe these techniques, so I'll just summarize each section, and suggest that you print this out for a great written summary of the DVD. I'll also add a few comments of my own. Even if you're a novice, at least skim through this - you are sure to pick up at least a few good tips.
1. Straighten downside leg, raise upside knee (not applicable to SOT's).
2. Torso centered and vertical
3. Weight over downside hip
This really refers to what is called a "J-lean", ie leaning from your hips. Your torso stays upright. Edging is basic to turning. It encourages a "tail skid" or turn in one direction, prevents skidding in the other. Stop edging and you stop the turn.
And yes, even those of you in ordinary plastic SOT's can benefit from this. Indeed, when I used to paddle down the beach at John Lloyd in my trusty (and rudderless) Pro, I found that a simple weight shift to one side or the other helped great in long paddles with side winds.
Low and High Pressure
1. When paddling forward, bow is in high pressure (stable)
2. Stern is in low pressure (it is the stern that turns or is blown off course)
In this section Foster covers the notion that - when paddling forward - the bow is in an area of high pressure (and is stable) while the STERN is in an area of LOW pressure (and thus is more easily blown). Thus, when moving forward, the bow wave tend to hold the bow in place. It is the stern that is blown or moves to the side to cause a turn. This is called a "tail skid"
A "tail skid" is almost a synonym for a turn; it refers to the tendency that when edged, the stern will continue to slide or move to the side (causing a turn). Remember, the skid is toward the edge. Stop (or reverse) edging and the turn will stop. Remember that a kayak will slide toward the side that's edged and will RESIST sliding to the opposite side (thus edge INTO a side wind to reduce wind effects).
Got that? Sorry, but you really have to buy the DVD and see this stuff. It's great.
Low Brace Turns
1. Gain forward speed
2. Initiate turn with short sweep, edge inside (carved turn) or out (tail skid turn)
3. Low brace inside (light or at-the-ready)
4. Hold edge until complete
There are really two kinds of low brace turns. Both begin with forward speed and a short sweep, and continues with a low inside brace. The most effective is with an outside lean, which promotes a tail skid (for maximum turning). However, when heading downwind or down waves leaning out can be a bit unstable.
In these cases, you lean to the INSIDE of the turn - no skid here - and you are essentially "carve" a turn with the keel of the kayak. Regarding the brace: it is a light brace at most, as this will preserve needed forward speed. It can also be a skimming kind of brace, or even a brace at the ready. Remember you can start the turn with an outside brace and go inside as needed.
Sweep and Skim
1. Sweep stroke, followed by
2. Skimming your paddle forward, on the water, to recover
This is all about the standard sweep stroke everyone uses to turn. It is important to note that the real turning part of a sweep is NOT at the beginning, but near the end of the stroke (this is because it is the STERN that turns, the bow is "stuck" in the bow wave). Put another way, a forward moving kayak turns pivots about the bow; the stern "skids" around.
Keep in mind that you should be edging to the outside of a turn. In rougher or windy conditions, the skim forward provides that little extra support that will keep you nice and stable.
1. Paddle is vertical, turn your torso to face the side
2. Top arm extended, use as a fulcrum -or- move side-to-side
3. You are "spreading butter", side-to-side, top hand is pushing, bottom pulling
4. Max angle is 45 degrees
This is the classic sideways draw, often used at the end of a paddle, to draw yourself up to the shore or dock for exit, or to raft up with another kakayer. It is performed when the kayak is still and not moving forward. Please note that when paddling forward you can perform a moving "side slip", below.
Bow Rudder Turn
1. Edge to outside of turn
2. Initiate with short sweep
3. Lean forward to encourage tail skid
4. Place blade far forward on inside, max angle of 45 degrees
5. Transition to forward stroke at end of turn
This turn can become a draw. The blade is placed in a neutral position forward to the side you wish to turn; the blade is then turned up to 45 degrees to "draw" the bow to that side. A great Foster tip: in rough water the rudder/blade is placed closer to the cockpit and your knees, and is more vertical. This gives you more support, allows a greater edge, faster turn.
This is recommended as a precision (adjustment turn) when paddling in calm water, is used to turn UPWIND, to maintain course and also to cross eddy lines.
1. Forward stroke but at end of stroke
2. Slice back and out, keeping blade neutral
3. Set your elbow into your side (this angles blade) and push gently out with top hand.
This is a true draw, which simply means a paddle position that is more vertical and closer to the cockpit. A "rudder" is when the blade is placed more toward the ends and the paddle is more horizontal. The stern draw is a corrective stroke, performed at the end of a forward stroke.
1. Use to maintain course, esp. DOWNWIND
2. Back of blade, edge away (opposite side) - will turn toward blade - OR -
3. Use Power Face, edge toward (same side) - will turn to opposite side.
In stern rudders the paddle is more horizontal. When using the back of blade the paddle is only slightly inclined from horizontal; when using the power face the incline is increased. What's neat is that your paddle becomes much like a real rudder - you can turn either way with your paddle on the same side of the kayak!
Thus a stern rudder can also be used at the end of a forward stroke for correction, or for surfing.
1. Bow draw or rudder, leading into:
2. Forward stroke, ending with:
3. Stern draw
How many time have you come up suddenly on a floating obstacle or unexpected rock? Linked Rudders provides a quick series of fast avoidance turns. First your bow is moved quickly to the side, away from the rock. Turning speed is added, then the stern is just as quickly brought over. The rock slides by on your side, and you exhale!
1. Gain forward speed
2. Blade is placed behind hip and moved forward as the kayak slows
3. Keep paddle vertical, max angle is 45 degrees
A side slip is exactly that - by placing your paddle to the side you can maintain course, but draw the whole kayak to the side. By varying the placement of your blade you can also change your heading as desired. Watching Foster control his kayak is a thing of beauty. He virtually dances over the water with a smoothness and control that has to be seen to be believed.
As you can see it's pretty darn hard to visualize some of these great moves - so this article is better used as a reference list. Another shameless plug to buy the darn DVD! And last but not least...
Control in Winds
Ah, the dreaded wind from the side on long stretches. Normally a real pain as you find yourself correcting constantly. This was covered in depth in an earlier part of this Break Wind series. Here's Nigel's advice:
Most kayaks tend to go to weather, ie turn INTO a wind from the side. Foster simply modifies and continues his normal forward stroke. Instead of slicing his paddle out of the water, as we all do, at the end of a stroke, he continues out and into a stern draw (see section above on this). He also adds a windward lean; as Nigel put it "...to lock the stern" (prevent a skid/turn).
This section concludes Nigel's wonderful DVD, and it goes far to put things together - when to use what technique? Nigel ends the DVD by taking you through a 360 degree circle, beginning with heading INTO the wind...
1. Into wind: lean to the outside, full sweep and skim to bring you crosswind.
2. Across wind and turning downwind. Continue sweep, but use last half of sweep to bring your stern around.
3. Downwind: use a low brace turn. Best is to lean away from the turn (tail skid) but you can lean into the brace (carve a turn) in rougher conditions. Bring you crosswind again.
4. Across wind: and turning upwind. Gain forward speed and use a bow rudder.
You must see Nigel Foster in action to appreciate the effectiveness of using the right stroke at the right time. So different than how most of us struggle to turn in high winds. As an interesting aside, Foster notes how he paddles in winds up to 60 mph or a bit more, with decent control.
In closing I cannot emphasize enough the importance of constantly developing and practicing your paddling skills - as this is the basis of using and enjoying the marvelous experience of being on the water...
Need I say more...
ps. Please be sure to fill out the poll as this series was pretty dang wearing...
Edited by Capn Jimbo on July 11 2006,09:38
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