Kayak – How To Perform Bracing Strokes

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 45,626
    Kayak instructor Mike Aronoff demonstrates how to do a bracing stroke to maintain balance.

    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.

    We are going to go a little bracing, but lets look at a concept before we do that. That concept is that you keep your head over your tail bone in the kayak, so that even though the kayak may tilt, you counteract that tilt by keeping your head over your tailbone.

    So, you are going to rotate the kayak but have your head as a counter balance. If you get pushed around by waves or wind sometimes you can be -- the kayak could be titled or leaned, at which time you are going to counterbalance by keeping your head over your tailbone.

    If however that s not enough and you actually lose your balance, you have to use a stroke called a brace and the brace just gives you the secondary, just a second to rotate the kayak back under you, using your lower body. So the lower body is able to move the kayak all over the place, while the upper body still. It can rotate the boat under you.

    Those are example of a low brace. The low brace works with your elbows up, knuckles down, paddle shaft nearly on the cockpit or on the cockpit coaming of the kayak. When you are keeping your head over your tailbone that s to stop you from falling down or falling over.

    When you loose your balance, you need to bring your head back to the same side as the knee or thigh that is righting the kayak or rotating it under you. What's going on is if I am doing that maneuver, I just showed you, running the risk of capsizing to this side. This knee is stopping me, when I lose my balance, this knee is got to pull me back upright and my head needs to come over to that side. That is the low brace.

    This is something that is often when you are learning accompanied with capsizing. So again you want to take formal instruction and you want to be dressed for emerging. You want to be ready to -- if you capsize be able to get out of the water so wouldn t want to do this in the middle of the bay, you want to do this close to shore. Elbows up, knuckles down, back facing the paddle to the water; low brace. There is another form of brace called the high brace. The high brace uses the power face of the paddle not the back face and this one is a in a pull up position as in elbows down, knuckles up. Power face to the water. One works best, a low brace is the one that you can use most and the one that most of us use most of the time it will work anywhere from back here, here on around to about there and ones I get past that point, I can't keep my elbow up over my hand and I lose the ability and power to brace. That is where the high brace comes in. I can use a combination of a high brace, from in front of my torso.

    So those are the two practice them where you can get out of the boat easily, take instruction learn to do them well and they will stop you from spending near as much time in the water if don t learn them. High bracing, low bracing, head over tailbone. Thanks.