[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!
 
Under rudders you understand all techniques where you use your paddle blade like rudder to alter your course.
As a built in rudder these techniques only work when your kayak is moving.
All rudders are much more effective, if you start the turn with a turning stroke.

Bow Rudder

A very efficient rudder I use frequently.
 
For a turn to the right, place your left hand on top of your head palm facing to the right and extend your right arm.
Now while the kayak is moving with some speed, place the right paddle blade into the water on your right side.
The edge that usually is facing towards your kayak shall face forward and the blade shall be parallel to the kayak.
In this position the paddle blade shall not create any noticable resistance.
 
To turn twist the paddle so that the forward facing edge of your right paddle blade is moving slightly away from your kayak.
 
Now you will feel that the blade 'wants' to move away from the kayak. 
By holding it firmly next to the hull, the kayak is turning instead.
 
You can further improve by edging to the left.
 
With some practice you should be able to turn more than 90 degrees from normal paddling speed.
 

 

Stern Rudder

The stern rudder is usually applied during surfing on waves to stay on course, but can also be used to alter your course slightly while you paddle forward on flat water.
 
To turn to the right, rotate your upper body to the right and hold the paddle parallel to the kayak, the left blade facing forward and the right blade almost touching your hull behind you on the right side.
Now while you have some speed, submerge the right blade in a way that you feel as little resistance as possible. 
The whole blade shall be submerged.
 
You can now experiment with the following to actually turn:
 
Rotate the paddle shaft
 
By doing so, the blade offers some resistance to the flowing water and your kayak will turn if you counteract the tendency of the blade to move away from the kayak.
 
Move your left hand
 
When you do not rotate the shaft, but move the left hand so that the whole paddle is no longer parallel to the kayak, you also create an angle between the paddle blade and the flowing water.
 
If you pull your left hand towards you, the right paddle blade gets away from the hull and when edging to the left, you will turn to the right.
 
If you push your left hand away from the kayak, the right paddle blade comes closer to the hull and when assisted with edging to the right, you will acutally turn to the left, so you can go in both directions!
 
 
Have the left hand high or low
 
This will have influence on how much you turn and accordingly how much speed you will lose.
 
A low hand will create stronger resistance and thus turning movement, especially when you do not only rotate your paddle shaft, but move the whole paddle as described above.
 
A high hand will usually create less resistance and is preferable for small course corrections as you will loose less speed.


 

Cross rudder

This is a variation of the standard bow rudder.
Is has benefits, but feels a bit more unstable to beginners.
I use it as often as I use the normal bow rudder.
 
Instead of submerging your right paddle blade on the front right of your kayak, you place it on your left side reaching over the kayak with your right arm.
The left arm is bent and the hand next to your left shoulder.
 
Again you submerge without resistance and then open up the blade angle to create resistance.
 
This rudder uses the stronger back muscles, so it should be easier to hold and you don't get dripping water in you neck!
 

Crossed arms rudder

This is more a playing variation of the bow rudder and real life application is only practicable when you use it to maximize your strokes during stroke combinations.
 
Start with a cross rudder without submerging the paddle blade.
 
Now move your left hand with the left paddle blade up and to the front and your right hand low and backwards.
 
Your arms are now crossed and you can do a bow rudder with the left paddle blade on the left side to turn to the left.
 
A 'practical' combination would be to:
 
a) Paddle forward and begin the turning with a turning stroke on the right.
b) Use the crossed arms rudder
c) then make a backwards turning stroke with the right arm on the left side bringing the right blade to the front on the left side of the kayak.
d)  Make another turning stroke backwards with your left hand and left paddle blade as your right hand and blade are now already on the right side of your kayak.
e) Use the left blade for a normal bow rudder on the left.
 
With this combination you do 4 strokes on the left, turning 360 degrees or more!
 
(Using turning strokes would of course be more efficient (and less cool) to do so,...)
 

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