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Old 04-23-2013   #21
Dwave's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 211
I'm enjoying this thread very much. The nuances of which stroke to take cannot simply and arbitrarily be stated as this stroke or that given the dynamic and ever changing medium involved in whitewater kayaking. Especially when you go from racing gates, to running rivers, to the extreme racing circuit that's taking off. Like Evan was referring to, nothing satisfies like cross graining the current hanging on to a bow draw, pulling on it at the lip or feeling the water until it's time to pull the trigger. Also, a proper bow draw combined with a short and agressive forward stroke taken out at the hip rocks too. Thinking about all this, I can remember specific times when I've used a variety of strokes and combinations...pulling hard on a forward stroke only to follow through to a stern draw because the current changed, a boil formed and started pushing me off line. Read and running harder whitewater and having to make quick and digressive directional changes...relying on the bow draw to make those changes. When used properly, combing several strokes to keep forward momentum is key...unless you wanna kill it. Any one stroke on it's own usually doesn't do the trick. Go forth and enjoy awesome challenge that is our sport and hopefully we'll be in an eddie together talking this over. Loving it!!!!

To air is human, to get big air divine.
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Old 04-23-2013   #22
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 808
I haven't spent years travelling the globe with world class slalom paddlers with European accents, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

I think the reason that this has turned into such a pissing match is that the original question is not very precise. There is no one best turning stroke. A bow draw is the most effective way to turn really quickly (see the eddy turns in the slalom video). When done correctly, a bow draw also allows you to maintain your speed and accelerate out the the turn with a forward stroke. A stern draw is very effective for keeping your angle in current while keeping your speed (i.e. maintaining a ferry angle) (See North fork video, and the ferries in the slalom video). I think the stern draw gets a bad rap because people confuse it with a rudder, which many people do wrong. A rudder can work really well so long as you do not lean back too much or turn it into a brake, thereby killing your speed. The main thing is that whichever of these strokes you use, you need to use your torso for the power, and keep good posture.

My .02.

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Old 04-23-2013   #23
The Fort, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 94
what it really comes down to is different strokes for different folks.

i can't believe no one beat me to this....
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Old 04-23-2013   #24
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
Wow, that riverwrangler guy doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Assuming you use proper technique with all of these strokes, I think this is mostly a preference thing... but I'll add a few thoughts. If I need to take a turning stroke before a forward stroke, then I use a bow draw. If I need to take a turning stroke after a forward stroke, then I use a stern draw. If I'm catching eddies, I use a dufek, which IMO is very different than a bow draw. I try to only use a rudder when I need to slow down, which is pretty rare, but we all get lazy. I love the stationary stern draw for big water eddy peel outs, or peel outs into ferry's. And if I'm running something really twisty and cool then I think it's pretty sick to do the bow draw, forward stroke, stern draw combo.

As to what I prefer... bow draw bitches!
It's not as powerful, but it links up with a forward stroke nicely, requires less torso rotation (keeping you stable in funky spots), and keeps your paddle in front of your hips for more forward strokes, since technically, you shouldn't need to take any turning strokes if you lean correctly.

Exception to the Rule: When I paddle a longer boat, say over 10 feet, I have a hard time getting enough power out of the bow draw, and thus rely on the stern draw more.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 04-23-2013   #25
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Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
JMack was JWalking

Originally Posted by jmack View Post
I haven't spent years travelling the globe with world class slalom paddlers with European accents, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.
Everyone knows that the Durango locals call the county lockup "Holiday Inn."

To the OP: Learn all the strokes. Practice them frequently. Start analyzing video and you'll catch the more skilled paddlers doing all kinds of adjustments around their power strokes. The book Catch Every Eddy, Surf Every Wave, while dated a bit, covers all manner of paddle usage. But if I have to go with one, I'd go with the air brace. It's true that it's mostly a canoe stroke but you know what they say...

On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 04-23-2013   #26
yourrealdad's Avatar
185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
Paddling Since: 1864
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 917
man I didn't get out much last season for numerous reasons but this thread is not boring. It makes me want to go out and practice stokes as boring as that sounds.
970-217-21 six six
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Old 04-23-2013   #27
tango's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
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think less. engage in the moment.
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Old 04-24-2013   #28
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Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 577
Well said Mr. Tango.

Once you have the basics in your head just get out and paddle. You will notice that you develop these skills to fit your own body mechanics the more time you spend just boating and not "practicing" them in the same spot over and over again.
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Old 04-24-2013   #29
Enfield, New Hampshire
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 332
Re steering strokes..

Hi everyone,
Thanks for all the advice and comments you all have generated in response to my initial query.Seems like a"draw" between a bow draw and a stern draw! After having been on the water the last few days, trying to figure out this paddling conundrum for myself, the conclusion I reached was that for downstream steer the stern draw worked best for me and for eddy situations it was the bow draw.

Thanks again for the help. You can always rely on this Board to point one in the correct direction.

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Old 04-24-2013   #30
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062

Wow. I didn't mean to stir up such a hornets nest.

There are many tools/strokes that you need to have in your bag of tricks to get you down the river. Working off the bow and stern are important, all I was saying is that it is cool to steer off the bow too.

I would argue that it is really more important to have a active draw/brace/sweep coming through any rapid. Having an active paddle takes the guess work out of boat control.

I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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