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Monday, May 3, 2010

bow rudder strokes

The Cross bow rudder

This is a powerful turning stroke that I truly love. It puts the power of the turn in front of you instead of behind you, as most turning strokes do. While I don't use it on open water very often it is very nice in small channels or rivers. Particularly useful for a quick cut behind a rock.

From the end of your forward stroke as you pull the left paddle blade out of the water, instead of planting the right blade in the water - as you would for your next forward stroke - rotate your body further and plant the right blade by your left foot. Your left hand should come up by your ear. You should also brace with your left foot. This can generate a great deal of power if your moving quickly enough, and so the brace with your foot is important or the paddle will get pulled further out, away from your left foot, twisting you more. It is called the Cross Bow rudder because your entire body is crossing over the boat. Your shoulders should really end up Parallel to the boat when you are performing this stroke. You will need to experiment with how vertical the paddle shaft is. More is better, but the blade still needs to be at a workable angle - If the shaft gets too vertical it has the potential to become a hanging draw stroke which is a different lesson - then you can control how powerful it is by twisting the blade. You can really fine tune how much control you have by how much angle you put into the blade. Softening, or sharpening the turn without moving the paddle shaft, just by twisting the blade in the water. When you are finished with the turn it is also very natural to lift the blade out of the water, unwind your torso, replant the blade at your right foot, and continue with a forward stroke on the other side. This is important because static turning strokes always rob you of forward momentum. Remember that everything should begin and end with a forward stroke because that is where we are most stable. You can do this stroke - the cross bow rudder - with the boat flat, but it is particularly effective with a bit of edge. By unlocking the bow, we can very quickly turn the boat. In the video I am using edge, and you can see how much the boat is turning by watching the change in speed of the trees behind me once I plant the paddle in the water.

The cross bow rudder is an off shot of the bow rudder, which accomplishes the same thing, turning your boat from the front, but in a manner that I don't like, and am not very good at - as you will see in the video. The bow rudder starts at the end of the forward stroke, like the cross bow. When your left paddle blade comes out of the water, Your left hand will go over your head and end up by your right ear, with your right hand you will plant the right paddle blade in the water by your right foot, turning the boat to the right.

I don't like this stroke for a few reasons: First, it tends to get your head wet as the paddle blade moves over your head. Second, it raises your elbow to the height of your shoulder which puts it in jeopardy of an injury. And Finally, I think it is overly complicated. Remember the story about Bruce Lee and Jeet Kun Do. Keep it simple. Remove anything that is overly complicated. Break something down to its simplest form.

The cross bow rudder is much simpler, and when done by me, much more effective. If you have a great bow rudder stroke, link to a video in the comments, I would love to see one well executed.


bow rudder from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

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