Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The low and high brace turn

This is a turn that I don't use that often, but it is actually a lot of fun. The low brace, and high brace turns are suitable for cutting into an eddy, or quickly stopping at someone in position to render aid as in an assisted rescue.

The biggest problem with this stroke is that it bleeds off a lot of energy, so they are really only appropriate for situations where you are carrying a lot of speed - but if your intention is to stop bleeding energy isn't a problem.

Starting with the low brace turn, roll your knuckles under, placing the non-power face of the paddle on the water. Edge into the paddle, pushing the paddle shaft away from you slightly, this is where the energy bleed comes from, as it is working against your momentum. At the same time bend forward at the waist. This bend forward at the waist, almost like doing a stomach crunch, will draw the nose of the boat around very quickly. You can also adjust the amount of resistance - and therefore effectiveness - by twisting the paddle shaft. When you twist the paddle shaft you either flatten the blade to the direction of travel, or angle the blade. The greater the angle the more effect it will have. I tend to start this stroke with the paddle blade behind the cockpit, about 45 degrees from the stern, Then when I am done with the stomach bend, the blade has moved forward parallel to the cockpit. Be ready to transform this turning stroke back into the bracing stroke it stems from, because as you run out of energy, the paddle will start to drop and so will you. This is one of those paddle strokes that can quickly lead to you being upside down in your kayak wondering what happened.

The high brace turn is exactly the same except it starts from a high brace, with the wrists rolled back and the power face down.

While not a particularly difficult stroke it does take some practice as it can, as I mentioned cause an unexpected roll. Braces are one of the more basic strokes, but they lead us to more advanced strokes. The high brace and the sculling brace both lead us into the roll. So it is important that they be practiced.

We have discussed a large variety of strokes, I think the bracing turns are one of the less frequently used - at least by me - but there are really five paddle strokes that are the basis for all that we do. The forward, the sweep, the low brace, the high brace, and the draw. Master these and you are setting yourself up for success.

In the video you will see me do a high brace turn, followed by three low brace turns. Again, please be careful as these strokes can surprise you.

brace turns from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.