Carving Control

For the best boat control in whitewater, you will want to understand how to get the boat to carve by holding it steady on its edge. A sign of good paddling is the ability to carve to carry speed efficiently, rather than sliding into eddies and catching edges with a flat boat.

kayak edging

For the best boat control in whitewater, you will want to understand how to get the boat to carve by holding it steady on its edge. A sign of good paddling is the ability to carve to carry speed efficiently, rather than sliding into eddies and catching edges with a flat boat.

Try it this on flatwater. Compare a carving turn with a skidding turn. Get some forward momentum and then start the boat carving on its edge, stop paddling, keeping it on edge, then set the boat flat and observe what happens. Keep the blade out of the water so you can feel all of the changes.

When the boat is set flat, the bow stops and the stern washes out. This is good when you want the boat to spin easily. However, a sliding turn stalls your forward momentum, and is less precise. Most people keep the boat flat too often, and lack steady edging ability. So if you need momentum and precision, then carving and steady edge control is preferred.

To improve you will want to develop steady edging and carving , AND be able to take strokes when the boat is radically tilted on its edge. The best paddlers can tilt the boat up on edge, and paddle aggressively without relying on their paddle for balance. Steady edging and carving will help you feel confident!!! You will be more dynamic in your boating with less effort.

By working on carving, you will also improve your balance. Without steady edge control, you will get little wobbles. Little wobbles reduce your paddling performance, even if you don’t flip.

DRILL TIME Are you ready to improve? Here are the drills to help you with your carving precision, edging balance, and stroke quality.

kayak edging

The purest form of carving is to hold a steady edge, and paddle on one side. Use a vertical stroke, and extend each stroke up to the bow when planting the blade in the water. To get the boat to co-operate, you will need to first initiate the boat into a turn in the direction you want. Then hold a steady boat tilt while you paddle with the blade on the inside of the circle. Push your top hand out over the water to get the shaft vertical.

Carving is a great way to work on the quality of your catch. Try to keep the paddle shaft vertical as seen from the front of the boat. Practice combining a steady boat tilt with verticality in each stroke. You will find that when you add lots of verticality, it becomes harder to hold a steady boat tilt. So work on tilt and verticality separately, and then ultimately you can combine them together. If you have trouble, it is most likely your blade is not close enough to the boat, or you don’t have a steady enough tilt. Multiple strokes on one side are frequently the best source for propulsion.

You probably know the wobbly, less stable feeling of sliding into eddies. Edging isn’t just for eddies. Carving helps accelerate through an arc while maintaining momentum. Another benefit of being comfortable with your boat on edge is improved surfing. Without edge control, you will frequently bury your bow when surfing, or even bury your bow before even getting onto the wave.

Practice the drill shown above because developing precise form carving and edging will provide your boating will noticeable improvement. Be forewarned, it is harder than it looks!

The best paddlers can tilt the boat up on edge, and paddle aggressively without relying on their paddle for balance.