Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

Sweep Stroke for Turning Your Kayak - Animation

In river kayaking the river establishes the primary direction of travel, but kayakers often need to go in another direction for safety, fun, or rest along the way. Thus, turning your kayak in the direction you want to go is a fundamental skill. The sweep stroke is the primary method used to turn your kayak.

A. Forward Sweep Stroke.


Forward Sweep Stroke - Animation 1 (opens in a new window)

To do a forward sweep stroke on the left side of your kayak:

1. Maintain straight arms and a strong paddler's box through the entire sweep stroke (see post "How to hold your kayak paddle").

2. The sweep is a flat, horizontal stroke. Keep your entire paddle shaft as low as you can throughout the entire stroke.

3. Rotate to the right. Plant your paddle blade entirely in the water on the left side at the bow (front) of your kayak. The power face of the paddle should be facing towards the stern.

4. Rotate your paddler's box to the left via torso rotation (see post "Principles of kayak paddling strokes").

5. A full sweep stroke ends when the paddle blade reaches the stern (rear) of your kayak. Partial sweep strokes are often done if only a little change of direction is needed. A partial sweep stroke can begin and end anywhere along the arc of a full sweep.

6. Also practice the forward sweep on the right side of your kayak.

7. Forward sweep strokes help to maintain your forward momentum while providing the change of direction needed.

B. Forward Sweep Stroke - from the River's Perspective.


1. Animation 1 above was done from the kayaker's perspective, but what is really happening is seen from the river's perspective. When you "plant" your paddle blade in the water it stays fixed at that location. Your torso rotation actually rotates your kayak underneath you relative to the location where your paddle is "planted."

Sweep Stroke Animation 2 (opens in a new window)

C. Reverse Sweep Stroke.


1. To do a reverse sweep on the left side of your kayak first rotate your paddler's box to the left. Plant the paddle blade entirely in the water next to the stern of your kayak with the back face of the paddle blade facing toward the bow of your kayak. Rotate your torso to the right.

2. Partial reverse sweep strokes are often done when only a little change of direction is needed.

3. Also practice the reverse sweep stroke on the right side of your kayak.

4. Reverse sweep strokes will reduce your forward momentum while providing a change of direction. Sometimes that is good, sometimes not. Notice that a forward sweep on one side of the kayak gives the same change of direction as a reverse sweep on the other side of the kayak, so choose wisely depending upon whether you want to maintain or lose your forward momentum.

More about: Kayaking Techniques.

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