First off, this will be next to impossible without the right boat (next to impossible, a friend of mine can squirt a polo boat right up). Get yourself a squirt boat, or small newish playboat.
A squirt is a very quick complete 180 degree or more turn on the long axis of your boat, front to back. In simple terms, what happens is when you complete a stern squirt textbook fashion, your stern will sink down, the boat will go completely or near enough to vertical, and you can spin on the long axis. Try to keep it spinning, or then if you start falling down, smash the bow down to go cartwheeling.
Once you get it going, it can be nice and slow and graceful, involving hardly any effort. Starting off though, it’ll probably involve a lot of splashing, capsizing, and swearing.
Does everyone remember the low brace turn, that you use for breaking in and out of the flow? It’s like that, but opposite, if you get my meaning.
First, try to get the manouver down on the flat. Sit facing upstream. Paddle upstream. Put one forward sweep in on one side, say, your right. For the low brace turn, you’d then lift your right knee and brace left, aye? Well, what would happen then? The water would flow under the hull, and, like on a bicycle, you’d have a large carving turn off to the left, eventually facing downstream, and (hopefully) remaining upright.
Now the difference between that and the squirt occurs after the sweep on the right. Instead of lifting the right knee, you drop it, and follow on with a reverse sweep stroke on the left. Try to swing your legs around to the left, and hopefully in to the air. The dropping of the knee and the reverse sweep should result in the back of your boat swinging down into the water like …this (I do this complicated hand move that unfortunately, you the reader, cannot see). The point of turning should be just behind your seat. It should transform the horizontal turn into a vertical turn, the knee drop getting the boat to cut down into the water, and the sweep driving the boat under the water. The reverse sweep, that can start of as a regular reverse stroke, but as the stern sinks, you can actually pull up on the water to push the stern down even more. Sounds strange, feels right.
Try to get the angle of attack right – too shallow, and you’re just turning on the flat, too steep, and you risk the stern being pushed right underneath you by the flow, and you falling back on top of yourself.
So let’s imagine ourselves on moving water, facing upstream, sitting in a nice big eddy on for example, river left. There’s a nice big concrete block creating the eddy, and the main flow is passing down to our left. Paddle out about eleven o clock, twelve being straight upstream. As your knees pass the eddyline, put in the forward sweep on the right, whip around, and simultaneously drop the right knee, and reverse sweep on the left. It does feel a bit wierd at first, putting in a stroke on the same side that the boat’s sidewalls are leaning away from, but it’ll gradually start to make sense.
All going to plan, you should be able to screw up in to a classic squirt, and maintain it for four or five yards, before falling down again.
Thanks for reading, JK