Sprint – Willie Irwin – Ranking and Selection
10 Mar - 28 Apr 2020
The sweep stroke is designed to turn the kayak. Let’s assume here that you want to turn right. If you reach out wide to the port side, at about 10 o’clock and pull back in a Cshaped arc, you can start the turn. Put pressure on the port footpeg and you increase the speed of the turn. You can continue this stroke all the way to the stern or stop at half way 21 21 around. If you next do a reverse sweep behind you on the starboard side, you will turn even more quickly. Of course, you should be able to do sweep strokes both sides and both the forward and reverse directions, and in combination.
Sometimes, if you have already got the kayak moving, you want to adjust the direction just a little, like a rudder on a sailboat. If you dip the paddle in on the starboard side, and slightly behind you, you will turn the boat to that side, and vice versa. Be a bit careful how you do this because a change of direction at speed will make the kayak seem a little unstable. A final way of assisting a turn is to move your weight so the kayak leans slightly toward the side to which you wish to turn. You can add this weight shift to any turning stroke.
One other stroke we will cover (although there are many more) is more of a recovery than a real stroke. This is the brace. With you hands below your wrists (which is why it’s called a low brace), reach out and lean slightly to one side. Roll your wrists back and have your elbows over your hands so that you can really punch straight down on the water with the flat of your paddle as you simultaneously flick your hips to bring the kayak level. The two actions will bring you quickly upright and can be used instinctively any time to think you may capsize. Practice the low brace often and find out how far you can lean/brace without falling in. You may be surprised how much support you can get from the water. This stroke is typically done at the end of a regular stroke to maintain stability.