Kayak – How to Turn

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 39,014
    Kayak instructor Mike Aronoff demonstrates how to turn and navigate the kayak.

    Mike Aronoff

    Mike is an American Canoe Association highest level Instructor Trainer Educator in both Coastal and River Kayaking as well as WW Canoe. He is also a British canoe Union Coach with the 4 Star award in Sea Kayak. He is the Chairman of the Coastal Kayak Committee of the USA and on the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Committee. Mike has co authored a number of books on paddling and wrote the ACA Kayak Trip Leading Course. He is a guest instructor in many parts of the US for various programs. He is the owner/general manager of Canoe Kayak and Paddle Co. LLC, a northern Virginia based paddling school and outfitter with an Annapolis, MD branch. Mike is also a registered Idaho Guide and leads trips there and locally. He is most active in certifying ACA paddling instructors in sea and river kayaking.

    Hi, Mike Aronoff with Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company. Let's talk a little bit about some concepts. The first one now that you are in your kayak, the big thing is to be loose. Be loose in the hips, so that you have got a cooperative separation of the body. That separation would be between your lower body and your upper body so that the kayak can move underneath you while you keep your torso still. Conversely, your torso can make really big movements, while the kayak stays relatively still. You want to have this separation of the body so that you are loose in the hips. If you are tight, you are more likely to capsize than if you remain nice and loose.

    Second concept is use your torso to power the strokes as opposed to your arms, use the big bustle groups. Let us start with those and move into our first stroke. Touring kayaks are designed to go straight. So what we need to work on is how to turn them. The first turning stroke primary turning stroke is called a forward sweep and it works like this; that spins the kayak. The beginning of the stoke by your feet a low shaft angle, this is the shaft or the paddle high shaft angle is vertical, low shaft angle is horizontal, low shaft angle means keep your hands low, beneath your shoulder. Forward sweep, catch at the foot. Use your torso end at the halt of kayak. Second stroke in the same family is called the reverse sweep, not surprising; it starts with a forward sweep leaves off, back of the kayak rotate your torso, hands low ends at the bow. If you do a combination of forward sweeps and reverse sweeps, you spin the kayak. If you are moving forward and do a sweep the kayak turns. That is it for sweeps.