Monday, April 26, 2010

Unlocking the bow

I have discussed Edging of your kayak a number of times already, but today I am going to go into more detail as to how and why it makes the changes that it does.

The shape of your boat will determine how much effect the edging will have. Today I am going to talk about my kayak, and certain parts of the hull - the hull is the bottom half of the kayak, and deck is the upper half.

First, the shape of my kayak. On my kayak as you will see in the video, the bottom of the hull is angled, or has 'rocker' like the bottom of a rocking chair. Which means that the end of the bow and stern are higher than the center of the hull. If you were to draw an imaginary line down the center of the kayak from bow to stern, that line would be the 'keel'.

The bow and stern of my kayak are sharp, like a knife. But then as you move towards the center of the boat, that sharp edge flares, and then flattens out.

In the center of my kayak, the side of the kayak is vertical, and where it meets the hull it makes almost a right angle. Where the hull and the side meet is called a 'chine', and in the center it is a hard chine - because the angle is sharp. As you move towards the bow and stern, the angle becomes softer, and smoother. This is called a soft chine.

So, putting this new vocabulary together, you have a hull that has some rocker, with hard chines in the middle and soft chines on the end, and a hard bow and stern.

The bow and stern are shaped the way they are to help the boat slice through the water, and the hard chine in the center of the boat, makes it easier to 'hold the boat on edge'. These two pieces are what we are going to focus on today.

To put the boat on edge, as we have discussed, we are going to lift with our right knee - to raise the right side - and push down with the left side of our bottom, While keeping our head and torso centered over the boat. That hard chine is going to give us a stable platform to balance that edge. But it accomplishes something else that is very important. It pulls the hard, sharp bow out of the water - or raises it, depending on how much edge we use - lessening its ability to slice through the water. So instead of the boat lying flat on its hull, it is balanced on its edge. Without that sharp bow slicing through the water, we have 'unlocked' it. making the boat much easier to turn. Just a gentle push with the paddle will make the boat turn. Much easier than when the bow is slicing through the water and holding the bow in one place.

But there is more. If the hull of our kayak has rocker, even a little, when we put the boat on edge it will turn a bit by itself. So edging becomes a powerful tool in course correcting.

The shape of your kayak is going to effect how well it will edge, and how much it will turn when edged. If your kayak doesn't have any rocker, it wont turn much - if at all - when on edge, without your help. Most people edge to the outside of the turn, but some edge into the turn - like an airplane. The direction you edge will be dictated in part by your comfort level, but mostly by the shape of your kayak. You must get into your kayak, and play with the edge, and turning strokes to see the effects it has on your kayak. This is the only way to see what has positive effects on your kayak, and what you are comfortable with. This is also where good contact with your boat becomes paramount. Without a good fit in the cockpit, good edging control is very difficult.

We are starting to get into movements and actions that have the potential for rolling your kayak. The counter to an edge going to far and becoming a roll is of course a brace stroke. A low brace if you catch it early, and a high brace if you catch it late. Be patient. Good edging technique is difficult, but will open doors for you in terms of controlling your kayak.

parts from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

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