Sculling Draw

A Powerful Stroke used to Move the Kayak Sideways - The Sculling Draw

By Alex Matthews

The sculling draw is a powerful stroke used to move a kayak sideways. Not only is the ability to move a kayak laterally helpful for pulling up beside a dock or another boat, it's also a key maneuver in almost every assisted rescue technique.

The sculling draw is set up with your upper body rotated to the side, your paddle shaft positioned as vertically as possible, and your blade fully planted in the water at 90 degrees from your hip. To draw your boat sideways, you'll use something called a 'sculling motion'. This sculling motion lets you pull steadily on your paddle, and bypasses any recovery phase, because your blade remains in the water and under load throughout the stroke.

The key to sculling is keeping your paddle blade moving along a short path forward and backward about a foot or two out to the side of your kayak, with a blade angle that opens your power face to the oncoming water and pulls your paddle away from your kayak. This application of blade angle is commonly referred to as a 'climbing angle'. Climbing angle means that the leading edge of your paddle blade is higher than the trailing edge. It's the same as spreading jam on toast: picture the knife's angle as it glides over the bread's surface, leading edge higher than the trailing edge.

To maintain a climbing angle on your blade while performing the sculling draw you'll cock your wrists slightly back as you slice your blade forward. You'll then make a quick transition and curl your wrists slightly forward as you slice your blade backward. Keep in mind that the change in blade angle is subtle. If you open your power face too much, you'll be pushing your kayak forward and backward rather than drawing it sideways.

Likewise, if you find that your boat is turning when you use the sculling draw, it means that your draw is pulling from a point too far forward or too far back. If your draw is too far forward, you'll pull your bow towards your paddle. If your draw is too far back, you'll pull your stern towards your paddle.

Using this sculling technique, you can apply steady drawing pressure with your paddle blade and move your boat laterally at a surprising speed. Don't forget that just like any other stroke, the power for your sculling draw comes from your torso rotation. This is why it's so important that you turn your body aggressively into the stroke. The forward and backward movement of your paddle can then be driven by your torso rotation, while your arms stay in a relatively fixed position. 



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Photos ©2006 Rochelle Relyea 

How to do a Sculling Draw - Sea Kayak Technique Video

The sculling draw is one of the most helpful skills to develop as a sea kayaker. Ken Whiting explains in detail
how it works in this episode from Sea Kayaking TV.


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