I was thinking about S-Turns the other day and thought I would share my thoughts with you.

Successful entry into the attainment on the far side of the river depends upon your tactical approach to the exit from the original eddy.

To begin with forward speed needs to be generated in the eddy with good power generation and transfer. This could only offer you the oportunity for one power stroke!

By carrying this speed across the eddy-line with some stern-heavy trim to maintain directional stability (keeping a straighter line), the boat moves into the flow with more of a ferry-glide angle. This is so positioning across to the other side of the river can be begun early in the sequence.

Here we see the result of acceleration out of the eddy. However, the trim is now being moved forward and neutral to promote turning:


Cross deck power strokes will hold the angle [shape of the arc] until you want it to turn (sometimes referred to as a “charging arc”).

We can then begin to prepare for the break-out. A tweak of the blade to get an ideal angle:


Then a slice to the bow for a final cross-deck power stroke sets the angle and begins the drive towards the eddy line.

The angle is now set and it is more efficient to be on the on-side of the boat with the blade. It facilitates heel on the boat into the turn and allows a good power-pry to get the boat fully up to speed. The power-pry is the best technique when the boat needs to be accelerated in one or two strokes:


In the picture above you can see the boat in the centre of the “V” on the river. If you do nothing the boat will be taken by the V and although the angle is good, it will slide down the eddy line. A lack of lateral momentum (in reference to the direction of the river/V) will not get a boat across the eddy-line.

At this point we have choices. If we drive too early in a long boat we may hit the wall, so allow the boat to carry down the V a little.


In the picture above the power-pry has started the lateral movement across the eddy-line and a bigger correction phase will initiate the rotation of the boat. Note, here we see a little stern heavy trim again to carry that directional stability. The timing of the trim forwards, heeling (edge) of the boat and slicing the blade into the eddy are all factors that need to be right if we are to succeed.


You see above the blade having moved across the eddy line, the top hand can drop the blade in to bite as necessary. If your speed, angle, edge, balance, accuracy, timing and trim are right you may not need the blade as much, if at all. By moving the blade further forwards we can trim the boat more bow heavy and tighten the turn if needed.

Look at how the body is rotated ahead of the turn of the boat. Some call this “looking for future water”. A nice term, but it is about more than looking. The eyes trigger the movement of the shoulders and upper body. This then triggers the off-side knee to move forwards and the hips to rotate; result: rock-solid stable edge!

Article by: Ken Hughes

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