And you may not think I care for you
When you know down inside that I really do
And it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love
The draw is another paddling skill that can be improved very quickly simply by tweaking a couple things, namely hand position and torso rotation. So let’s look at those today.
I’ve written in previous posts about paddlers feline habit of not wanting to get their hands wet. That repulsion causes new folks to attempt to keep their paddle blades as near the surface of the water as possible. Often new paddlers only put about half their blade in the water and need to be guided to put the whole blade below the surface.
When drawing (or moving the kayak sideways), people go through some amazing contortions to keep their hands dry and keep their power blade at the surface of the water. Usually the pose ends up looking like something from the Saturday Night Fever poster with one hand held as far above their head as possible. In the picture at the top of this post you can see that when I perform a draw I place my fist approximately over my mouth. Variations aside my focus point here is to be able to look over my fist to see where I am going. This of course means I have to put the blade down deep into the water. Yes I will get my other hand wet! Keep in mind that by putting the submerged blade that low it pushes water under my hull and not INTO the side of my boat causing resistance. So again, Keep your hand down! Yes, we all go through it, so don’t think you’re alone here.
The next big issue in a draw is body position. It’s not long before new paddlers begin to see how important torso rotation and general body movement are to solid paddling skills. Yeah, you can go your whole life dinking around the local lake with horrid techniques, but spending a bit of time on proper technique will make things easier, more efficient and help you avoid some common injuries. Anyway, back to the draw…
In the draw we talk about “facing your work”. What that really means is turning your upper body, squaring your shoulders and facing the direction you want to go. It can really feel like you are trying to be a pretzel at first. When you fully twist your body you may feel like you are going to tip over. It takes a little time for your body to find the correct balance here but it will come with a bit of practice. Some folks, especially those built like me may not be able to fully rotate at first. You may have to work on flexibility over time. A cheat here would be to take your inner leg (the one on the side you are turning toward) off the peddle and then grabbing the combing and physically twisting your body. Here’s the thing, if you only twist a bit, you will tend to draw your kayak at an angle going more forward than sideways. (Your kayak will go where you are facing..). By fully turning your upper body, your draw will take you where you want to go. In fact from this position you can draw at any angle you like. No one said you had to go directly sideways!
One additional way to really improve a draw is edging or leaning your kayak. In general you lean toward the way you want to go but every so often some “Hey sister, get off my lawn!” type, will say lean back to avoid splash and drag.. Whatever! Do whatever you want here, just note that a bit of edge will help your kayak move sideways more efficiently.
So in review we twist and “face our work”, edge the kayak and maybe most importantly keep that bloody hand down, go deep and don’t be afraid to get wet.