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Monday, April 5, 2010

Edging



There is a key difference between someone who gets in a kayak and paddles, and a paddler with a desire to learn. No where in paddling is this more visible than in edging your kayak. When I see someone edging - even ineffectively - I know that they are trying to push themselves to be better paddlers and that is admirable, even if unsuccessful. Edging is the topic of todays lesson.

Edging serves many purposes. It can be a quick correction in direction, it can make a sweep more effective - actually it makes many strokes more effective. The important thing to remember is that edging, is not leaning. They are two very different things.

First, what edging does. When we say edging, we are referring to rolling the boat onto its side, how much depends on you and your boat. By putting the boat on it's side we are changing the effect that water will have on the hull. If you look at your boat upside down with the keel straight up, you can imagine where the water line is. Now roll your boat so the angle between side of boat, and bottom of the boat - this angle is called a chine - is straight up. That chine is now the keel giving the boat very different characteristics. It is as if we can momentarily change the shape our hull. This can give dramatic results.

The shape of your boat will also effect what effect putting your boat on edge will have. A boat with a good amount of rocker - which is a bend in the keel from bow to stern, like the bottom of a rocking chair - will turn more sharply when on edge than a boat with no rocker.

In order to get the boat on it's edge we need to go back to the 'contact' lesson. We need to be in good contact with the cockpit because we are going to effect this chage with our legs. If the cockpit is loose around us, we wont be able to make these adjustments, or if we do they wont feel comfortable.

So let's make it happen. In a neutral position with our paddle in front of us, Thighs in the thigh braces, and feet on the foot pegs or rudder pedals (though if you have a rudder you will want it stowed for this, as you will want the pedals to be firm against your pressure.) You need to lift your right knee, and push down with the left side of your bottom. You can also push with your left foot. On flat water that is all you will need. You can brace your self with a low brace if you start to go to far and become unstable. That will raise the right side of the cockpit. Try that a few times, adjust the height of the right side, and see how long, and how smoothly you can hold it. When it starts to feel comfortable, try it on the left side. It is important that your head stay over the center of the boat. if your head moves out over the side of the boat you are no longer edging, you are leaning. And while there are times when a lean is the appropriate movement, today, focus on keeping your head over the boat.

Some of the early videos were difficult for me to do, because instinctively I wanted to edge the boat, but as I hadn't showed you that particular skill yet I felt I shouldn't edge the boat. You can see edges sneak in to a few of the early videos. It becomes a fluid part of the movement and over time it will become natural. Get comfortable with the movement and in a later lesson we will apply it to specific skills. In this postings video you will see the edge first correct a course against a current. I am edging the boat, but by looking at the background behind me you will see very little movement, I am using the edge to go straight when the boat otherwise will want to turn, then you will see me illustrate putting the boat one edge, and then finally using the edge to complete a turn.

We will look more into edging and integrating the edge movement into the sweep stroke soon. But for now focus on just getting comfortable with the edge, then we will get comfortable combining strokes with the edge. We do them separately because when combining the sweep (or any number of strokes) with the edge, it can effect balance and have some negative consequences.

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