Stay Drier with the Sweeping Brace

When many paddlers get unstable, they tend to stick the paddle above their head or freeze with the paddle at their waist level - then fall in.  Instead, next time you're feeling wobbly, instead of reaching above your head or freeze, get low and paddle!  Getting low is a lower center of gravity and paddling creates momentum which is stability.  Trying to balance with the paddle out of the water won't work, you're not on a tight rope.

Another option is to use a Brace, which means slapping the paddle blade (flat part) on the water's surface at your side - then paddle.  This surface slapping will usually give you enough stability to regain your balance and keep paddling. Some say the having the Power Face facing up is called a Low Brace. If it's facing down, it's called a High Brace (comes from kayaking terminology)

If you're falling back, sweep the paddle blade across the water's surface starting at your tail sweeping in a semi-circle forward towards the nose. This is called a Sweeping Brace. Apply pressure with your lower arm. Keep the leading edge of the blade up so it hydroplanes across the surface. This provides quite a bit of stability.  Once you've completed your sweep - paddle.  Paddling will help you keep your stability.

Practice on both sides. Try to fall then use the sweeping brace to prevent your fall.  In some cases if you're falling hard and the brace doesn't work, just let yourself go in. Bracing up current on a fast moving river can injure you're shoulder.  Tips on How to Fall Safely

I also apply a sweeping brace when doing a forward stroke in rough water. During the recovery, instead of feathering the blade above the water's surface, I sweep it on the water's surface forward to the catch to set up for my next stroke.  This really provides a lot of stability in bumpy conditions.

Preparing for the Sweeping Brace

Sweeping / Hydroplaning Forward

Sweeping Brace during a Pivot/Buoy Turn

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Photos by John Patzer

Board: Imagine Surf Connector DLX 14'
PFD: MTI Cascade
Paddle: Accent ProBolt