Canoe steering

How to row a kayak correctly

Water sports such as kayaking are immensely popular. But to master them, you need to know the various nuances of ship management. There are different techniques for kayaking and paddle work, thanks to which experienced athletes can raft even the most turbulent rivers. In this article we will tell you about them.


Training in any kayak rowing and handling techniques begins with paddle work. This is due to the fact that, unlike rowing on other watercraft (boats, skiffs), a different grip method is used when driving a sports or tourist kayak.

You should also be aware that depending on the type of kayak and the difficulty of the hikes, standard length or sport paddles can be used. As a rule, the selection of their length is made specifically for the height of the rower.

The turn of the oar is dictated by biomechanical and physiological factors, so its optimal angle is individual for any rower. As a rule, it is slightly less than 90 °. With a normal grip, the distance between the hands is equal to the distance between the elbows of the arms spread apart.

Each paddle stroke includes 4 phases:

  • The beginning is the entry of the blade into the water.
  • Power section - wiring, thanks to which the kayak accelerates.
  • End - blade coming out of the water.
  • Oar skid for another stroke.

Take a close look at the video demonstrating the sports technique of rowing in a kayak and try to repeat the basic movements!

Correct rowing technique

The technique of rowing forward on a tourist and sports kayak practically does not differ. The seating rigidity of a person is achieved using a special seat, which limits his lateral displacement.

The rower's body should be in a straight position, his knees rest against the bulwarks, and his feet against the keelson bars. The severity of a person's landing is checked by slightly swinging the kayak out of the hips.

The technique of rowing in a kayak and kayak consists of several simple elements. After watching a short video, you can easily learn how to operate a kayak!

Kayaks and canoes have a lot in common. They have great maneuverability, have a narrow, elongated shape with pointed bows and sterns, are able to easily move along swampy, reed-covered water bodies, overcome rough rapids, and walk on the seas. The design of kayaks is somewhat different from the design of kayaks, but both are used in tourism, water sports, fishing, hunting, long hikes, family walks.

The fundamental differences between kayaks and canoes include the method of landing, the arrangement of oars and bottoms. The bottom of the kayaks is narrow, the oars are two-bladed, the seating of the rowers implies being in the cockpit or on it with their legs extended forward and their back leaning against the support. Canoes have a flattened bottom, single-bladed oar and are designed for rowers resting on one knee or sitting on a canoe. At the same time, the main difference between these two small boats is the position of the center of weight of people, which is below the water level in kayaks, and higher in canoes. It is this factor, together with the differences in the range of dimensions, which causes a significant difference in the technical parameters of the boats. Each of them, in comparison with the other, has some advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of kayaks and canoes

Kayak models are available in single (kayaks), double and triple versions. For the carriage of luggage, they have special sealed compartments that can accommodate cargo, the volume of which depends on the modification of the boat. Canoes are superior to kayaks in terms of roominess. There are models for seven or more people. However, there are no separate compartments for things in the canoe. Luggage in them is folded to the bottom or to the compartments available on the outrigger, if present.

Speed ​​

The speed advantages among kayaks and canoes are relative. A lightweight plastic kayak with a length of about 2.5 meters will easily overtake a similar canoe on relatively calm water. However, even the longest kayak cannot reach the same speed as the longest canoe.

The speed of a canoe in open waters (sea, ocean) is inferior to the speed of kayaks, if the vessels are not equipped with sailing rigs. This is due to the fact that the sail of the kayaks is lower and they are less affected by the wind direction. The speed of walking family models in both cases does not exceed six to eight kilometers per hour. Such boats are usually equipped with additional safety systems that increase the weight, and have a hull shape that does not provide for fast movement.


When it comes to isolating rowers, kayaks have undeniable advantages. Firstly, in traditional models with sit-in, the rowers are located inside the cockpit close to its walls, so they are not so afraid of the piercing wind as the canoe open on all sides. Secondly, the design of the kayaks provides for equipping with dense waterproof aprons and skirts that protect the inside of the hull from splashes and water ingress. There are usually no such devices in canoes. Only in some sailing versions, designed for long-distance crossings over the seas or oceans, there are closed superstructures. But these are free-standing small boats with a narrow range of applications.


A canoe is a narrow boat with sharp bows, stern and open cockpit, which is driven by a single-blade oar. Today, such models are widespread and are in great demand among fishermen and fans of water trips. At the same time, when purchasing a canoe, people often believe that it is possible to row on it in the same way as, for example, on kayaks. And then they cannot cope with the boat even on calm water.

To learn how to control a canoe, you need to master the technique of rowing on it, which has a lot of nuances. This can be done with the help of an instructor or independently.

Canoeing Technique

Before you start canoeing training, you need to take care of a helmet, a life jacket, and choose a paddle suitable for the occasion. It is important to ensure complete safety, since the risk of overturning always exists, and for beginner rowers it increases several times. As for the oar, it must be unsinkable and reach the shoulder in length.

Beginners first need to learn how to maintain balance in the boat. To do this, you should sit in the cockpit of the canoe as low as possible and try not to move along it, making a minimum of movements. Canoes are very sensitive, react to every push, start spinning, and it is not easy for passengers who are inexperienced in these matters to cope with them. Therefore, for the first time, it is better to sink to the bottom of the boat so that the center of gravity is at the very bottom. You need to sit as straight as possible, keeping the body perpendicular to the surface of the water.

The oar is taken with both hands so that one of them is on its upper part at the end of the handle, the other is located about 30 centimeters from the blade. The palm of the lower hand should be facing the side of the canoe.

The paddle is carried forward by the blade above the water and plunges vertically into it along with a small part of the spindle (middle area of ​​the paddle). It should be carried as far as possible, but not bend over too much and not raise the body.

Then the blade of the oar is turned so that it stands perpendicular to the side of the canoe, and the oar is pulled back in a direction parallel to the boat. It should be kept as close to the board as possible. If the stroke is too wide, the canoe will turn.

The second stroke starts from the hip. To do this, after the blade is in line with the thigh, the oar is lifted out of the water parallel to its surface, brought forward and again all the movements described above are repeated. After a few strokes on one side, when the canoe picks up speed, you should switch to rowing on the other side, otherwise the boat will move in a circle.

In order to move to the other side, the oar is pulled out of the water at the moment when it hits the line of the thigh, lifted perpendicular to the body of the canoe, change the position of the hands, lower it into the water from the opposite side and make a stroke , like before.

This is how you need to train until the movements become rhythmic and automatic. If there are two people in the canoe, you need to learn how to synchronously change sides with your partner. To learn to row in pairs, people sit at opposite ends of the boat so that its draft is uniform. In the event that the weight of one person turns out to be much lighter, part of the canoe near him is loaded with some things.

The bow man sets the rowing pace. The stern rower must act accordingly, that is, start and end each stroke at the same time. The change of sides in order for the boat to go straight must also be synchronous. The command to it is made by the person at the stern.

To understand what a real sports adrenaline is, an extreme must fight with nature. And the most unpredictable element in this case is water. An excellent option for testing your own strengths will be water rowing.

Kayaking is an Olympic sport in which participants cover a distance at speed with the help of oars and their own strength. It makes no sense to talk about the history and development of rowing, since the lesson arose exactly when a person found the courage to swim, using a log as a means of transportation on water.

However, the emergence of kayaking and canoeing as a sport is associated with the Scotsman John McGregor, who designed himself a kayak and named it "Rob Roy" in 1865. Its length was 4.57 m, and its width was 0.76 m.

Features of kayaking

Rowing is partly a seasonal sport. As long as the sun warms a little, the rowers go out into the water. But, as soon as the frost bound the water, the athletes move to the gym, where they continue to work on themselves. In the hall there is an opportunity to strengthen and develop your physical fitness. Of course, athletes of national teams or club teams spend their training camps in warm regions, but dry rowing is also an important part of their success.

If you think that rowing takes away a minimum of intellectual and maximum physical resources, then you are mistaken. During the competition, it is necessary to develop a strategy and tactics, to keep an eye on the sides of the opponents. Calculate the distance clearly and understand when to make the last dash.

If you dream of becoming a rower, and in your city there is not the slightest hint of a body of water, practice at home. Now there are a huge number of simulators that do not take up much space.


At tournaments, both men and women fight for medals, and the length of the distances ranges from 200 meters to 4.2 km. There are also super-long distances. Kayak discipline is designated as "K" - from the English. Kayak.

The following types of boats are used for the competition:

  • single ,
  • double ,
  • four.

A canoe is a compact, agile, obedient boat, created in the likeness of Indian, hollowed out of wood or birch bark of ancient canoes. Today canoe is very popular and is widely used for tourism, sport rowing, water travel, fishing, hunting, and rafting. The boat has a flat bottom, narrow long shape with sharp bows and stern, is able to freely pass shallow water, swampy and reedy places, keeps well on the waves, has excellent stability and light weight.

In fact, this is a small boat that can reach a fairly high speed and go long distances. It is effortlessly transported over land, capable of carrying fairly heavy loads and has a much larger capacity than standard kayaks. Canoes have high buoyancy, shallow draft, are adapted to the installation of motors and are suitable for sailing not only on rivers and lakes, but also on large-scale sea and ocean waters.

Types of inflatable canoes

Modern models of former Indian boats are made from different materials and have all kinds of modifications. The boats are made of polished plywood, kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, aluminum, plastic, precious woods, PVC and have a design that is most suitable for a particular purpose. Among them there are shortened sports models with unsinkable compartments, open boats for boating, slalom canoes, shaped like kayaks, spacious boats for family vacations and multi-day trips with closed stern and bows, high-strength canoes for rafting made of heavy composite materials, equipped with inflatable bags to increase buoyancy.

Traditionally, this boat model can accommodate from two to seven people. However, there are canoes for one person (slalom), and options for forty to fifty or more people (ocean). All models are divided into frame, body and inflatable. Inflatable types are actively used by hunters, fishermen, lovers of rafting on rivers of varying complexity. They are lightweight, can be transported to the launch site even by bicycle, are inexpensive, take up little space, are easy to care for, durable, are quite capable of withstanding a decent weight and impacts on sharp stones and do not need a separate storage room.

Inflatable Canoe Construction

Inflatable canoes consist of cylinders, single-bladed oars, harness, drain valve, transom for installing a low-power motor. Boats can be equipped with an additional inflatable bottom, an insert to increase rigidity, and inflatable canister seats with soft backs. Models are available in single-layer and double-layer models. Single-layer ones consist of one balloon, two-layer ones - of two glued balloons.

The canoe does not have oarlocks. The boats have a flattened bottom, are supplied with rods, frames, fenders and keel bars, transverse seat slats and crossbars for additional leg control. They have moderately sheer sides, round-lined contours, pins with a blockage inward, cans on the bow and stern, an open or closed cockpit at the bow and stern, harness and handles. In a number of models there are pumps mounted in the bottom for manual pumping of water, aluminum bulwarks with plastic linings, holders for fishing rods, separate compartments for luggage.

The latest inflatable canoes have drain valves. The design of boats can be supplemented with plastic or inflatable outrigger floats, which contribute to its stability on the water and allow to install sailing equipment on the boat. For sails, the design of inflatable canoes includes a reliable rigid frame located on top of the hull and outrigger.

Specifications of inflatable canoes

Inflatable canoes have a length of two to seven meters, a width of 80 centimeters to one seat. Their weight ranges from 11 kilograms to 23 kilograms, carrying capacity - from 150 kilograms to 250 kilograms. Rigid bottom boats can carry up to 300 kilograms.

Inflatable canoes can reach speeds of 6 to 8 kilometers per hour. These are durable, easy-to-handle boats with compact dimensions and low weight, which when folded can fit into a small backpack. They can withstand low and high temperatures, exposure to corrosive environments, rather strong impacts. Inflatable boards absorb their strength and become a kind of reliable shock-absorbing cushion that protects rowers from injury and the risk of flying out of the boat.

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