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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Horner

Boating Tip - Aligning the Stars

Here's a cool little move, which once understood and mastered will have you driving into eddies, entering the flow and pushing through river features like never before! We're going to look at momentum, boat direction and what happens when we bring the two together.

Let's look at this in the context of entering an eddy, once this is understood you can take this technique to other areas of the river.

I'm going to use a 45 degree downstream angle as a reference (the blue line) to highlight a point here, please bear in mind that other angles are also available!

It's common for paddlers to be told to enter eddies at 45 degrees, which if not fully understood can cause all sorts of issues such as instability and skidding backwards. Problems can arise when paddlers position their boat close to the side of the river where the eddy is in order to 'aim' at 45 degrees.

Here are some issues this could cause:

  • Limited lateral momentum

  • Your stern drifting downstream as you approach

  • River features pushing you away from the eddy

Let's look at this in a different way, the paired images demonstrate the same thing in kayak and canoe. The blue line is the path of my momentum and the green arrow is where my boat is pointing.

In this first image I'm giving myself plenty of room to generate my momentum, also take a look where my boat is pointing. Think of it this way, if I point my boat at the bank 90 degrees to the flow and paddle the speed that the river is flowing my momentum will be directed at 45 degrees towards the eddy.. It's not quite so black and white on the river, but this is an example to help you understand a concept.

If I was to enter the eddy traveling like this it would be likely that I would trip over my downstream edge as I hit the slacker water of the eddy. In the images below I am about to sweep my boat angle in line with my momentum with a stroke on the upstream side.

The stars are now aligned. My boat angle and momentum are now traveling on the same path, this allows me to cross some pretty funky eddy-lines like I'm on waterskis! It is worth noting that for the kayak the stroke on the upstream side in the last image also creates some spin momentum which allows the boat to be pushed in to the eddy with the downstream blade without causing too much initiation.

When all this comes together the result is a smooth carving turn into the eddy that allows the edge and lean to be applied gradually.

Often on the river where our boat is pointing and where we are actually heading are quite different, when these two elements come together cool things can happen..

Landing a boof to skip through a sticky hole would require similar tactics, on landing we are looking to line up our boat direction and momentum.

I hope you find this article useful.



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