Thursday, March 25, 2010

sweep 1.0

The most basic turning stroke we will do is the sweep stroke. Like the forward stroke its key is body rotation. Without moving your hands on the paddle shaft, reach forward as far as you can with your right hand and plant the blade in the water near your right foot. Your right arm should be straight, your left hand should be in front of your chest.Your Body rotated to the left to maximize your reach. Then, sweep the paddle in a half circle from the front of the boat to the rear of the boat. Your arms shouldn't move, just your body rotates, remembering from the contact post, your head is up, and your back is straight. This sweep should be a wide arc, reaching as far as you can away from the boat -without leaning - until you come to the end of the arc at the stern of the boat. If you watched someone doing a sweep stroke from above, you could divide it into three thirds. the first third is at the bow of the boat. the final third is at the stern of the boat. The middle third is the area near your cockpit. The first and third section are when you are actually turning the boat. The middle third is pushing the boat forward. For this reason a lot of people will only do one third of the sweep stroke, the first or the last. Once you have completed a full arc then you can do it in reverse - a reverse sweep - the other direction. Start by reaching as far back towards the stern of the boat as you can and completing the arc in reverse. It will bring your boat back to near where it started. You can link a forward sweep with a reverse sweep on the other side to turn the boat all the way around.

As you think of the sweep stroke from above, and think your thinking about the three thirds that the stroke breaks into, keep in mind that the boat turns in reaction to your pushing with the paddle blade. There is a push and a movement. An action and a reaction. A positive and a negative. A cause, and an effect. For me it is a beautiful illustration of Karma. Karma doesn't have to be good or bad - though it may be - it is just a result from an action.

Something else to think about. If the amount of force that you projected with the paddle while sweeping didn't meet any resistance, the boat would move much more than it does. But the hull of your kayak creates resistance, and a big part of that resistance is your bow. Your bow is designed to cut through water, not slide over it. It fights your efforts to turn the boat. Later on we will work on ways to limit how much the bow can fight your efforts.
Combining the forward stroke, with the sweep stroke can create many beautiful, controllable movements. It is the begining of stroke integration. Once we start integrating strokes together we have unlimited options. And that is our next lesson. Integration.

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