Carving and Edge Control
So far we have practiced edging whilst sitting stationary however most of the time when we are out on the rivers we will be edging whilst on the move. We call this skill Carving.
It is important for us to be able to hold an edge, change between the different levels of edge and to switch edges from side to side, whilst paddling so that we can adapt to the water and the situation and stay balanced and in control. There is very rarely a time in the whitewater environment where our boat is not on edge of some kind. Therefore, it is great to practice combining paddling and edging.
Through this simple exercise sequence you will be able to develop your edging, boat control, general awareness and balance. You will also begin to notice how the stability of the boat is effected by momentum and how edging can have a turning ‘carving’ affect on the boat.
How to hold an edge whilst paddling
1. Pick out a target in the distance. Keeping your eyes on the target generate some momentum by paddling forwards. As you continue to paddle roll the boat up on to an edge and hold it. Using steering strokes to keep the boat on course keep paddling towards your target.
2. When you feel that your running out of energy or your losing the ability to hold the boat on edge drop the boat back to flat and have a rest.
3. Starting again pick another target and do the same drill again. This time put the boat on its opposite edge and hold it. Again keep your eyes on the target and use paddle strokes to steer where needed as you paddle forwards.
Working both edges evenly during these early stages of learning will really help you speed up your all-round progression as a paddler and will help prevent you developing muscle imbalances from over using one side.
4. Once you have this mastered have a go at completing the same task whilst paddling backwards.
How to hold an edge whilst turning : Carving
The next step is to practice paddling in a circle whilst holding the boat on edge. You will have noticed that as you paddled forwards and backwards with the boat on edge it will have been constantly trying to turn. In the earlier exercises we corrected this with paddle strokes. Now have a go at working with the turn created by the momentum of the edged boat and using it to paddle in a circle.
1. Do this by picking out a target in the distance. Keeping your eyes on the target generate some momentum by paddling forwards.
2. As you continue to paddle forwards roll the boat up on to an edge and hold it. The boat will begin to turn.
3. As it turns, don’t steer. Let it continue to turn and track a circle. You will now need to keep your eyes looking forwards in front of you in the direction you are going. rather than at your initially target. Let the edge of the boat create the turning momentum. You should not need to do any steering or turning stokes. If you just paddle forward the edge on the boat should keep tracking the turn. This is the skill known as carving.
4. Have a rest then have a go with the opposite edge.
5. Then try the same drill whilst paddling backwards.
How to practice changing edges whilst paddling : Carving a figure of 8
Now its time to try and paddle a figure of 8 just using forward paddle strokes and edging.
1. Same as before start by looking ahead at target in the distance. Paddle forwards, then put your boat on edge and hold it.
2. Keeping it on edge track a turn as in exercise 2.
3. Then whilst still paddling forwards drop the boat back down to flat.
4. Keeping forward momentum switch to the opposite edge.
5. Keep paddling and you should now track a circle in the opposite direction.
6. Still paddling forwards drop the edge back to flat again.
7. Now switch back to the original edge.
You should be carving a figure of 8. This is a great exercise and good fun.
8. Try it left and right. Backwards and forwards.
Keeping your eyes up and looking at a target or in the direction you want to go during this drill is really important. Not only will it help you develop your stability and overall awareness. It will also teach you to be able perform these moves whilst observing the environment around you, which is super important for when you get out onto moving water. If you find yourself admiring the bow of your boat, think ‘eyes up’ and check out the views not just your bow!
You don’t need to go full edge all the time. Mix it up. Play about with the different levels of edge (1-3) whilst performing each of these drills.
This really is a great sequence of exercises that will help you develop your strength and control. Even the top pro paddlers (EJ and Stephen Wright included) still use this exercise as part of their daily warm ups each time they head out onto the water. As it helps wake up the muscles and the mind and helps keep their fundamental key skills crisp and active.