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The Stern Rudder Technique Explained

Mark Armstrong
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The stern rudder technique is a great way to control your kayak, especially in difficult situations, such as moving water. In this article, we’ll explore how to use the stern rudder technique and when it is most effective.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to master this essential kayaking skill. So grab your paddle and let’s get started!

A man is kayaking in a white waterPin

What Is The Stern Rudder Technique And When Should You Use It?

The stern rudder is a paddling technique that can be useful for turning your kayak and when surfing waves. It involves making your paddle work in a similar way to how a boat’s rudder operates. So essentially, your paddle becomes the rudder. You can use it to turn your kayak on flatwater or moving water.

The stern rudder technique features two types of maneuvers: the stern pry and the stern draw. The stern pry is when you push your blade away from the back of your kayak and the stern draw is when you pull the blade toward the back of your kayak.

These maneuvers allow you to turn your kayak in different directions. The stern rudder technique will allow you to turn in the same direction that you either pull or push your blade. The direction that your kayak turns will depend on what side of your kayak you are performing the maneuver, as this technique can be used on either side of your vessel.

As well as using the stern rudder strokes for turning, you can also employ this technique to help control the directional stability of your kayak in strong rivers, helping you to paddle in a straight line.

Video: Virtual Coach: The Stern Rudder

The stern rudder technique generally works best when you are already moving forward, so that your forward momentum can help to push you into the turn.

This is why it can often be useful while surfing waves, as it can let you control the direction of your kayak in rapidly moving water.

How to paddle a kayak properly

How To Stern Rudder With Your Kayak

Step 1: Place your paddle on one side of your kayak

Move your entire paddle to one side of your kayak. Rotate your torso so that both of your hands are on the same side of the vessel. The shaft of your paddle should be parallel with the side of your kayak.

It can be useful to keep your rear blade vertical in the water for optimal maneuvering.

Step 2: Lower the rear blade

Lower the rear blade so that the entire blade is fully submerged in the water. Your front hand should be in front of your chest and both of your arms should be in front of your body, with your torso rotated toward the same side of the kayak.

Step 3: Stern Pry

With the rear blade submerged and the front blade above the water, push the rear blade away from the back of your kayak. Keep your paddle parallel to the boat while you do this.

To help make the turn and execute the maneuver efficiently, as you push the rear blade away from your boat, edge away from the blade.

Make sure you don’t lean back when you edge your kayak, or this could cause you to capsize. You should also make sure you are looking forward while completing the move or you could find your kayak turning unexpectedly.

Step 4: Stern draw

Keep your rear blade under the water, with your front blade above the water and shaft parallel to the kayak. Pull the rear blade back toward your kayak.

As you do this, edge towards the blade. This should make the turn more efficient. Remember to look forward as this can help to maintain your direction and balance.

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