[kaya-ooyook] 'He who rolls up with his paddle in his kayak after a capsize
 
 
 
 
Here I try to give an overview of the different techniques and maneuvers you can do in a seakayak.
 
All the different seakayaking techniques can be put in the following categories:
 
Basic strokes such as forward stroke, basic turning stroke, moving your kayak sideways, edging and stop.
 
Braces to prevent capsizing when you loose your balance.
 
Rudders to efficiently alter your course without loosing too much speed.
 
Stroke combinations to maneuver accoriding to specific situations, e.g. Turning into the wind.
 
While out on the sea: never act mechanically to what you learned in a course or from other persons!
Try to learn from the conditions you meet: currents, wind, waves and just play with your kayak, paddle and body to become better and more efficient. 
By trying out things for yourself on every trip, you will learn fast and get better with every km.
Promise!
 
Low braces
 
To learn low braces you should start with static and dynamic versions at the same time.
 

Static Low Brace

The static low brace is done while the kayak is not moving.
 
Hold your paddle in normal paddle position.
Now, for a static low brace to the right, hold your paddle extended on shoulder hight parallel to the water surface. Bend both elbows down so that the paddle rests parallel to the water surface and quite low above the waterlevel with the right blade fully facing the water, your left blade a little higher, but as narrow as possible. The shaft can tough the kayak.
Your right elbow shall be directly above your shaft and you should be able to comfortable push directly down into the water with your right arm.
First try to just touch the water with your right blade pushing it down into the water.
Feel how this feels and how much resistance you get. This resistance you will use to rotate the kayak back under you should you really loose your balance.
To get more out of it bend your whole body to the right before you tough the water and bend it the other way to the left when you actually touch it. It helps to see this motion as a C to C motion as your body bends like the letter 'C' seen from behind.
Now you can play with waiting longer and longer with your paddle motion while you get deeper down to the water.
Over time you can still recover yourself quite far down and put your whole body weight on the paddle for a short time period.
 
But beware, there is a point where it's just too late to use the low brace and you would have to go for a high brace to recover!


Dynamic Low Brace

The dynamic low brace is done while the kayak has speed.
Do some strong forward strokes and then get your paddle blade in starting position for a low brace on the right as described above in static low brace.
Rise the forward facing edge of your right paddle blade a little so that it will not cut down into the water when you tough it.
Now while you have some speed, touch the water surface with your right paddle blade by pressing down with your right elbow.
You will feel a lot of resistance and again you can play with it until you almost can lie down on your paddle with full body weight for a short time period.
When you feel quite ok with this, play with dynamic and static low braces on both sides in different conditions and you will feel a lot safer on the water, being able to prevent a capsize!
 

Static High Brace

To learn a high brace is not as easy as a low brace, because it cannot be practiced without actually falling into the water. However there are some tricks to help you.
 
Hold your paddle in normal paddle position.
Now, for a static high brace to the right, hold your paddle extended to the front on lower than shoulder height parallel to the water surface. Bend both elbows upwards so that your hands come to shoulder height.
 
For all braces it is important that the paddle stays horizontal all the time.
 
This is especially important for a high brace as most have a reflex to lift the hand that is not doing the brace. Be aware of this, lifting your other hand reduces the paddle blade area that can be used for the brace!
 
Loose your balance to the right and keep the paddle horizontal to the water surface by raising your right hand and lowering your left hand.
When your right ear touches the water pull the padde blade down into the water and use your hips to rotate the kayak back under you.
You can either (seen from above) have the paddle exended in more or less 90 degrees to one side OR use a sweeping motion across the water surface to gain more time for the brace.
To rotate back up is easier the more you can lie down on your back deck.
 
To make the practice easier, ask a fellow paddle to make this in slow motion resting your paddle blade on his kayak or practice in shallow water.
 
 

Dynamic High Brace

The dynamic high brace is done while the kayak has some speed.
 
When you are confident with low and high braces on both sides, let others push you to an unknown side from behind you or fall in using first low brace and then swith to high brace to recover completely.
 
A kayaker with sound braces will usually not capsize!
 
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