Does your kayak consistently veer to either the right or left side? This is a frustrating scenario that both amateur and seasoned kayakers experience on a regular basis. Not only does this type of forced movement behavior make your kayak more difficult to control, but it can also place you in danger if you aren’t careful. Kayaks that veer off to a particular side are more likely to hit rocks, waterfalls and other obstacles. In this post, we’ll go over some of the most common reasons why kayaks veer off to a particular side.
One of the most common causes of a kayak veering off to the side is due to uneven strokes. Even if you “think” you are rowing evenly, there’s a good chance one side could be off by just a small amount. Even minimal differences between the left and right strokes could throw off your entire kayak, which is why it’s important to maintain consistent, even strokes. Try to perform your strokes in a fluid-like motion where each one comes naturally.
If your kayak seems to be veering off to the side, try to perform longer strokes. A general rule of thumb is that longer strokes create a more straight direction for your kayak. It’s only natural to perform shorter strokes after you’ve been kayaking in the hot sun for hours on end. However, you must maintain balanced, even strokes that go deep under the surface of the water. Longer strokes may require more energy, but it will also pay off in the form of a straighter kayaking path.
Let’s hope this isn’t the case, but structural damage may also result in a kayak veering off to either the right of left. If there’s a dent in your kayak, it could affect the flow of water, forcing your kayak to naturally veer into a particular direction. Before taking your kayak out into the water, always perform a full inspection to see if there’s any damage. You can still go kayaking with small dents and dings, but they need to be fixed to prevent your kayak from veering.
Most people automatically assume it’s a structural issue with their kayak, but nine of out ten times the problem of veering is due to the stroke technique. Work on perfecting your stroke by going deeper into the water will full extension. Also, keep your body as straight as possible during the process. This alone should yield a huge improvement in your kayaking abilities.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.