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10 Essential Paddling Skills For Canoeing

Are you planning for a canoe trip right now? If you are down for the game and aren’t adept at the art, you need some tips to develop the skills required for canoe paddling.

Canoeing is winning popularity at high rates. You intend to indulge in a vacation activity, want to explore new places, or just to have an eventful day, canoeing can be your option. Canoe paddling might not be a rocket science but isn’t as smooth as you would think, so for the newbies out there, here are ten essential paddling tips for a canoe. Have a look.

1. Forward Strokes

Lean forward slightly while you sit, hands stretched but not straight. Cross the top hand, rotate your torso and set the blade square in the water keeping the shaft erect. Draw it back in vertical motion to make a stroke. Make an outward cut with the blade and keep low on recovery. Make sure to use body muscles and not arm muscles. Make short strokes close to the canoe frame, and parallel to the centerline.

2. Trail Stroke

Not smooth to drive forward, but controls your boat fine. Use only when needed. After stroking forward, let the paddle in water trail behind you. Pivot the blade keeping it vertical by rotating your top hand away. Keep turning your torso to face sidelong and don’t reach behind you. Push the blade away from canoe to turn towards it and pull back in towards the boat to turn away from it. Again – only torso and no arm.

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3. J-Stroke

The name indicates the shape of the path that your blade would be tracing. When the blade passes your hand, twist your wrist outwards to make your thumb point forward. All the pressure would continue to apply on the drive face of the blade as that’s what’s going to steer the canoe.

4. Reverse Paddling

This uses the back of the blade. Rotate your torso to the stroke’s side, keep your arms straight, and lay the paddle flat on the water. Twist it in the opposite direction forcing the blade towards the bow till almost vertical. Take out your blade and repeat the stroke. Reverse paddling uses J-strokes, and the bow paddler controls the boat.

5. Sweep Strokes

These strokes are about sweeping your blade in a wide arc. Keep your arm straight and make strokes in a wide arc leaning your body forward and behind. The blades must be kept just immersed in the water for these strokes, and paddling should be done until horizontal.

6. Draw Stroke

This stroke turns your canoe sideways for rafting or approaching anything. Direct your body to face the water and take your top hand over the gunwale while keeping your shaft vertical. The lower hand reaches the canoe at 90 degrees. Immerse the blade parallel to the boat frame. Keep top hand poised and pull the blade towards your canoe. Elevate your wrist and rotate the blade at a right angle before it touches the hull. Cut the blade away to repeat the stroke.

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7. Support Stroke

Support strokes work on body actions and don’t need monster forces. You can paddle a single side, and you have to choose the side. But, the C2 paddlers can support on both sides. Keep the shaft low on the edge of the canoe and use the back of the blade. Apply the blade to stop the tripping movement and pull the canoe back under your head using a hip flick. Use hips actions to take the boat upright. Drop your wrists to cut the blade out.

8. Bow Draw

You use bow draw to turn your canoe. A stern paddler makes the opening sweep, and the bow is pulled to the paddling side for a turn. Rotate your body to the stroke’s side and keep your shaft nearly vertical to the paddling side from ahead. Keep your top arm high, and lower arm and wrists flexed. Now drive face towards the bow by loosening your body movements.

9. Side Switch

Paddlers sometimes may need to switch hands. Here’s how you do that: When your blade is out of the water after a stroke, release your top hand. Now lift the paddle across the boat and bring the top hand below the bottom one. Your bottom hand then is the top hand now. Slip your hands to the right positions on the shaft and take next strokes. You can switch sides every ten minutes.

10. Emergency Stops

There can be a variety of reasons for which you may need to stop your boat quickly. Reverse strokes serve the purpose really well for such emergency stops. Make short and quick reverse strokes with more power to stop your canoe in an emergency.

So now you are familiar with the most basic and essential skills to master your canoe paddling. You’re ready to go, practice, and master the art. Happy canoeing.

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