Sculling for Support
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The sculling stroke is used to give extra support when the kayak is not moving, or when the forces creating a capsize are not momentary. For example, it is used to change position and cool off while waiting for the group to catch up or waiting to cross a boat channel. Or, it can be used when the paddler is being buffeted by powerful winds or has capsized in a standing wave in rapidly moving water.
The paddle shaft is held as horizontally to the water as possible, power face down. Bottom photo shows the horizontal paddle shaft. The more horizanotal the paddles is held the more support you gain form the paddle. Keep the off side hand near the kayaks. This ensures maximal blade area contact with the surface. The paddler uses body rotation to move the paddle in wide forward and backward arcs. The blade is almost flat on the water, but the leading edge is raised slightly by wrist action. If the leading edge is not raised, the paddle will sink. If it is raised too high the stroke will turn into a forward or reverse sweep, and support will be lost. As with other support strokes, the paddle action is there to provide the opportunity to use the lower body to control the boat.
Many beginning paddlers mistakenly feel they need to whip the paddle back and forth rapidly with arms and shoulders to get adequate support. It's much more effective to move the paddle back and forth in slow, wide arcs with no splashing, using body rotation. Practice the sculling motion as if you were spreading icing on a large cake. Instead of flailing with arms and shoulders, get the feeling that you are hanging from the paddle shaft as you scull.