This months coaching dispatches will looks at eddy turns coming from the flow into calmer water.
We want to ensure that we can perform a wide eddy turn to get ourselves across a thick eddy line, to get ourselves safely at the bank and to not block the entrance to the eddy for the next person. Your friends won’t take too kindly to you being in the way at that must make eddy above the portage! In a nut shell I think there are 3 key things to bear in mind.
We must think ahead and plan. Our history of travel or momentum must be towards the eddy (blue line) and not downstream, hence traveling laterally across the river into the eddy (green line). This will prevent bouncing off the eddy line and carrying on down river (red line). The sketch below shows this history of travel.
As we cross the eddy line we need to ensure the boat is not knocked off line by the eddy line whilst keeping the kayak as flat as possible. Edging the boat now will only encourage the boat to turn super fast and spin on the spot and not penetrate into the eddy. There is also a difference between holding the kayak on line and performing a sweep stroke at the end line which again encourages the boat to spin on the eddy line.
As the boat starts to turn upstream, a forward paddle stroke on the inside of the turn will lengthen the turn further and give you support. You can follow this stroke on into a stern squeeze to control the end of the turn.
Good posture throughout is key, as the strength for your forward strokes, balance during the turbulence of the eddy line and your control of the stern squeeze comes from your core. Practice and varied environments is needed for robust skills but these ideas are a pathway to perfect eddy turns.