In the realm of canoeing and kayaking, the concept of edging is as commonplace as the paddle itself. Yet, its importance is often underestimated, relegated to the subconscious actions of the boater. By focusing our attention on edging, we can not only refine this skill but also harness its full potential.
From simple turning to the most complex techniques, edging adds zest to everything. You can literally make you kayak dance to your tune (I mean moves) by practicing this technique.
Leaning and Edging – The Difference
It is better to get your basics right before trying to master Edging. Personally, I think beginners should have a better understanding of what is not considered as ‘kayak edging’ before trying to understand what an edging is. First you need to sit in upright position in your kayak. You need to make sure that your belly button and your nose should be in perfect line.
|Turning, Navigating tight spaces
|Flexible middle, head centered over kayak
|Quick turns at high speed, Support strokes
|Body upright, risk of going off balance
A perfect alignment is what you should be aiming for. Alternatively, you should start moving your head to the right while making sure that the nose is in line with the right knee. You will be moving your head in that direction unless and until that alignment is achieved. However, you need to be careful while doing so because there is a slight possibility that your might fall of your kayak or chair while doing so.
Now in order to edge, you need to learn how to change the angle of the head toward the left shoulder while keeping the weight on the right bun cheek at the same time. Make sure that the nose-over-navel alignment is maintained carefully. Start lifting your left knee as you shift farther right, forming a C posture with your body. You’ll feel a pulling on your left side; edging entails performing side crunches instead of leaning over.
When to Lean and Why
Leaning comes into play when you need to execute quick, sharp turns, especially at high speeds. It’s also crucial when you’re performing support strokes. Essentially, leaning is a technique you’ll use when you’re pushing the limits of your kayaking skills. But remember, leaning without adequate paddle support can lead to a capsize, so it’s a skill to be used judiciously.
Drills For Practicing Edging
01. Eddy turns
The eddy turn, a maneuver as poetic as it is practical, is your key to seamlessly navigating from the calm sanctuary of an eddy into the relentless flow of the river, and vice versa. Believe me, it’s not just about ‘making the turn’; it’s a ballet of hydrodynamics, skill, and intuition.
In essence, an eddy turn is your gateway between two contrasting water worlds—the tranquil eddy and the raging current. The skill lies in transitioning smoothly without capsizing, a feat easier said than done, given the unpredictable nature of whitewater currents.
When exiting an eddy, your immediate instinct might be to lean into the direction you’re heading. Resist that urge. Instead, lean away from the current you’re entering. For example, if you’re escaping an eddy on the left bank and merging into the main flow downstream, elevate your right knee, settle onto your left edge, and lean away from the onslaught of water.
Forget the crude imagery of “fart upstream.” As a seasoned kayaker, I prefer the more poetic mnemonic: “Whistle to the Wind.” Imagine you’re blowing a gentle whistle in the direction of the current. This visualization will help you remember to lift the correct edge and maintain your balance.
02. Kayak Surfing
The thrills of surfing aren’t confined to ocean waves; rivers offer their own brand of exhilarating surf spots. When it comes to surfing a river wave, your kayak becomes an extension of your body, much like a surfboard on the ocean. It’s about understanding the wave, anticipating its movements, and reacting in real time.
Your kayak’s edges are your carving tools. To move right, steeply engage your right edge, and to slide left, dig in with your left edge. But don’t just stop there; you’re not a piece of driftwood floating aimlessly.
As you edge back and forth, integrate rudder strokes to steer and maintain your position on the wave. Unlike ocean surfing, river waves are stationary, meaning you’ll need to actively paddle to stay in the sweet spot.
To surf like a pro, you must become one with the wave, understanding its pulse, its mood swings, and its nuances. It’s a relationship that takes time to build, but once you’re in sync, the river becomes not just a body of water, but an arena for artistry and adventure.
Kayaking isn’t just about paddling; it’s about mastering the water’s every move and responding with precision. One such essential move is the boof. When facing an intimidating hydraulic or “hole” as we kayakers fondly call it, there’s a special maneuver designed to keep your kayak from diving nose-first into the water.
With the boof, as you approach such challenges, you’ll adjust your stance, leaning in, tilting your kayak, and taking a powerful stroke. This isn’t just about strength; it’s about timing. By swiftly pushing the hips and realigning the kayak’s position as you pass over the hurdle, you ensure a smooth transition over the rapid. Remember, it’s about minimizing resistance. By angling your kayak, you reduce the drag, allowing you to sail across the water with ease and finesse.
Kayaking can be serene one moment and tumultuous the next. That’s the beauty and challenge of the waters. And while no one intentionally sets out to capsize, every seasoned kayaker knows the importance of being prepared for unexpected tilts. Enter the brace stroke.
Think of bracing as your safety net. It’s the move you deploy when you sense your kayak leaning too far, threatening to immerse you in the water. But how does it work? By rapidly placing your paddle against the water, using it as a counterbalance, you create a force that helps you regain your equilibrium. It’s akin to a tightrope walker using a balance pole. The water’s natural properties become an ally, resisting the paddle’s blade and offering the leverage needed to pull the kayak back into position.
To hone this vital skill, many choose tranquil waters as their training arena. Here, in controlled conditions, they deliberately push their kayak’s balance, practicing the timely deployment of the brace stroke to restore stability. Over time, this maneuver becomes second nature, ensuring that when the waters test you, you’re ready to respond.
05. Three-Levels-of-Edging Balance Drill
This is a classic drill and therefore, it is quite popular among kayakers regardless of their experience and expertise. This drill will help you do cool things with your kayak like carve through a turn. In this drill, you will have to keep the kayak in complete control for several minutes at each level. You need to work on your bracing skills first before trying to master this classic drill without using a paddle float. If you want, you can also practice this drill by keeping your paddle rested on the bow of your partner. This will minimize the possibility of kayak capsizing.
Don’t get frightened if your kayak start wobbling. It is quite normal for kayaks to wobble a bit. Your objective is to keep the kayak stead as far as possible. Once you get the hang on this edging thing, you need to try to hold each edge for at least 10 seconds but that would take a lot practice. If you are using a paddle float, try not to rely on it to keep your balance during this drill. This will help you build your confidence. The next stage of this drill is – high-brace drill. This drill will help you move your kayak faster.
06. C-to-C: Pre-Bracing Drill
In this drill, you have to use a paddle float. Now it is time for you to edge on the right side. You need to go a bit extreme while edging this time around. Had it not for that paddle float, you would have definitely fallen over. We understand that it is not possible for beginners to keep the nose and navel in the same alignment all the time, so try your level best and you will be just fine. You need to make sure that the left side of your body is forming a C posture while the left knee is kept in raised position throughout the drill. Keep your head tilted.
In the next stage, you will have to get your balance back and this can be achieved by doing a doing a crunch on right side. Your right ear should be moved towards the right shoulder while tightening at the waist. Your right hip should meet your right elbow while you are trying to push your paddle hard.