It has been a while since I wrote the last blogs on forward paddling skills. I will ask for it to be reposted so newer members can have a read and hopefully gain some tips to aid their paddling.
This one will be looking at turning your kayak, an essential skill for controlling your direction.
• To change your target point
• To avoid an obstacle, such as a rock, swimmer or other paddler
• To take account of wind direction.
There are also different methods to achieve that change in direction.
• You could use a stroke to bring your bow or stern around to another direction
• You might use a rudder at the stern of your kayak
• You can even change the shape of your kayak in the water in order to achieve a turn, without interruption to you normal paddling rhythm.
The most basic of the turning strokes is the use a short stroke that draws the paddle from the front (or rear) and away from the kayak in the shape of a quarter circle. Whereas we normally pull the paddle alongside the hull to maintain a straight line, this turning stroke pulls the paddle away from the hull, causing the kayak to turn.
Now some kayaks will turn easier than others, depending on length and shape of the hull. A sea kayak for instance can take ages to turn whilst a playboat will turn on the spot, using the same stroke.
Another method is to place your paddle in the water close to the rear of the hull, to cause drag on one side, resulting in a turn toward the side where the paddle blade in entered. The placing of the rubber stroke should follow on from a normal paddle stroke on the same side. So as the paddle blade passes your hip, you extend your arm to enable the paddle blade to lie alongside the rear hull. You should ideally not have a locked elbow, but be extended so the paddle can be as far back as possible, without having a locked elbow. The paddle shaft should look almost parallel to the side of the kayak and with the blade as far as in the water as comfortable. Not being as flexible as some, I tend to find the paddle looking like a sharks fin in the water! If the paddle is pushed away from the hull, the craft turn will be tighter. Bringing the paddle back to the side of the kayak will open up the turn. Experiment with the paddle next time your are on the water.
A very efficient method of turning is to change the shape of your kayak in the water, by what we call “edging”. When paddling with the kayak dead flat, the hull is symmetrical in the water and generally travels in a straight line, assuming the paddler has equal pulling power with both arms! If one knee is raised against the thigh brace or a one cheek of your bum pushed down, the kayak will turn. This happens because the shape of the hull on the water is shifted from flat to being biased towards one side. In all but sea kayaks, the direction of turn will be towards the opposite side to which to the knee is lifted. Sea kayaks are different ion that the shape of the bow cause edging to be opposite to that in other types of kayak (except whitewater racers, but we do not use these at our club!). The benefit of edging to induce a turn is that you can continue normally paddling whilst the kayak turns, so you do not loose speed, which you would with other turning strokes.