Learning to Brace

Submitted by Ray Denno

When learning the brace, most people put too much emphasis on the paddle. The paddle is a small part of the brace. When you lose your balance to the right, relax your head and drop your ear towards your right shoulder. as you do this, pull up on your right knee. You will only need a slight pressure on the paddle if you do it right.

Remember: Right, Right, Right. Right ear to right shoulder, lift with right knee. If you tilt your head to the left, away from the water, as most beginners do, your head creates more weight out over the paddle--driving the boat back down. If the head comes up, the boat goes down! Work with a friend in the pool, have them hold your paddle with just their fingertips, not much pressure is needed on the paddle.

Keep your arms relaxed and paddle held at chest level or slightly below. Lean to the right and dink your head to the right and raise the right knee while putting light pressure on the paddle. This sequence should start about the time your elbow just touches the water. Dinking the head is just another way of saying, drop your head to your shoulder. What you are doing is simply pulling the edge of the boat that is going under water, back up to a level position, the head being the last movement in the process.

Should you flip all the way over, just push the hand on the bracing side up as high as comfortable toward the surface (in this case, the right side) and repeat the sequence and you will have done the "C to C" roll. Be sure to drop the knee opposite the lifting knee--so you don't lock up both knees, as this would cancel the rolling motion. After you master the brace, try intentionally missing the brace and turn it into a "C to C" roll. This will give you more confidence in both recoveries.

Once you learn the brace and the roll, you will feel comfortable in big water and wind, and actually look forward to them. This will give you the experience needed for long trips on the water. If you would like help in this, I would be glad to help as well as others in the club would.

New to Kayaking?

Don't know how to get started? Which boat to buy? How to learn without embarrassment? What if it tips over? Do I have to roll the kayak?

We were all beginners once and we'd be happy to help you with the basics. Before you even buy a boat, why not stop in at our monthly meeting (see the Paddlers Calendar) for some friendly advice from experienced paddlers. Whether you're interested in calm afternoons on one of Michigan's beautiful lakes and rivers or two weeks in the wilderness, we can help - we've been there.

To ask any questions or to contact the group for any reason, please send an e-mail to Eastcoastpaddlers@gmail.com