A Powerful Turning Stroke - The High Brace Lean Turn
By Alex Matthews
|As its name implies the high brace lean turn combines a high brace with boat tilt to create a powerful turning stroke. The high brace component is used for support on the inside of the turn, while the kayak is tilted in the same direction - the same way that you would angle a motorcycle into a corner. While it's fun to do on flat water, this stroke truly comes into its own when maneuvering in or out of eddies created by strong currents.
The high brace lean turn requires forward momentum, so start with good forward speed. Initiate your turn by first doing a forward sweep on the opposite side. Next, plant your high brace out to the side of your kayak, just behind your hip. The key to this stroke is to maintain a climbing angle on the supporting blade throughout the turn. This climbing angle will allow you to get steady support from your blade and help turn your kayak as your boat travels forward. You'll need to cock your wrists back in order to open the blade's power face to the oncoming water and keep it skimming across the surface. To protect your shoulders, keep your arms in relatively close to your body and your top hand low, in what is sometimes called the 'nose pick' position.
To really get your kayak turning, edge the boat: as you plant your blade for the turn, tilt your kayak into the turn and roll it up on edge. If turning to the right, think in terms of rolling onto your right butt cheek and lifting your left knee while keeping your head over the kayak and lightly hanging on your high brace for support. Tilting the kayak will greatly increase the turning power of the stroke, and typically, the more you edge your kayak, the more it will turn.
The support generated from your brace comes from your forward motion relative to the water, so remember that as you slow down through the turn, you'll get less support from the brace and you'll need to level off your kayak as you scrub speed and come to a stop. Once the turn is complete and you've leveled out your boat, a great way to finish the turn is to smoothly slice your support blade forward to your toes and then seamlessly feather it into a forward stroke to get your boat moving forward again.
Photos ©2006 Rochelle Relyea
High Brace Turn - Sea Kayak Technique Video
The High brace turn and low brace turns are two of the fundamental carving turns for sea kayakers. Ken Whiting shows you how to do them in this Sea Kayaking TV episode.