Sunday, September 10, 2006


All Braces Should be LOW Braces - Kayaking Paddle Technique

1. Bracing on the surface of the water with your kayak paddle can help provide the support that you occasionally need when kayaking in whitewater. This can help you to maintain/regain your balance and to stay upright in your kayak.

The key principles of bracing are:

a) paddle face flat on the surface of the water (either the power face or the back face of the paddle)

b) paddle shaft very low and held parallel to the surface of the water

c) maintain a LOW center of gravity
- keep arms very LOW while sitting upright with an aggressive forward posture

d) always brace on the down-current side
- normally the direction in which you are trying to go!
- remember eddy currents are opposite from the main flow

e) maintain your paddler's box
- keep your arms extended straight and low in front of you

2. Some paddlers make a big deal about "high-brace" vs. "low-brace" depending upon how you bend your wrist and which face of the paddle is down on the water when you brace. In the pictures below notice the differences between the low-brace and the high-brace:

"Low brace."
"High brace."

That's right! There are no great differences between the low-brace and the high-brace. You can totally forget about this silly low brace vs. high brace nonsense!! Remember - All Braces Are LOW Braces!! At the moment when you need some support get a paddle face down flat on the surface of the water ASAP. Either paddle face will do. Use whichever one is most convenient at the moment. Bend your wrist however necessary to make it happen. And keep it LOW !!

3. Other paddling strokes have some brace-like value, so just maintaining your aggressive paddling may provide all the support you need to stay upright. In those cases when you interrupt your normal paddling to put down a brace it is important to resume your aggressive paddling as soon as possible. The brace will provide a moment of support, but your other paddling strokes are needed to get you through the rapid.

More about: Kayaking Techniques.

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You have it reversed -- high braces use the working face and low braces use the reverse/backside brace
A "high brace" is when your wrist is higher that the paddle shaft as you brace. A "low brace" is when your wrist is lower than the paddle shaft as you brace. My pictures don't illustrate that very well, so I will get new pictures to illustrate this better. The wide range of paddles used throughout the world with left-hand control vs. right-hand control and different feathering angles make it impossible to generalize whether the power face or the back face of the paddle will be up or down during any particular type of brace.
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