Quinn Connell: How to control bow angle

Practice waterfall techniques in a playboat.

Quinn sets his bow angle in Mexico. Photo by David Spiegel.
Quinn sets his bow angle in Mexico. Photo by David Spiegel.

Bow Angle

By Quinn Connell

One of the most fundamental crossovers between playboating and creeking is edge control, or the ability to control the rotation of your boat about its long axis. A slightly less obvious, but still important skill set that playboating can help ingrain is the ability to set your bow angle and to control the rotation of your kayak along its short axis. In playboating, exerting a downward force through your heels is the fundamental basis for initiating many tricks and aerial maneuvers – it is the action whose reactive force gives you the pop you need to release from the water, as when plugging for a loop or accelerating into a blunt. This can be easily practiced in flatwater: maintain an athletic, centered position and alternate crunching your knees up and smashing your heels down—try to make the biggest splash possible (add alternating edging to this motion to spin into 'lean-cleans' which are a great warm-up and skill-building exercise).

So how does this relate to creeking? A 'bow-smash' in a playboat utilizes the exact same mechanics as the elusive 'stomp' in a creek boat. Certain drops require you to boof the lip in order to maintain speed and control through the landing, however depending on the drop you may not want to land completely flat in order to soften the hit and protect your back. This is the perfect situation to employ the 'stomp.' As I roll over the lip and take a boof stroke, I like to think about fully engaging my core through my legs, pulling my upper body forward almost like winding a spring. As you begin to free-fall, spot your landing and aggressively unwind by throwing your heels down towards your landing. This will give you a more vertical boat angle, resulting in a smoother deceleration. Try to stay forward through the landing and remember that in order to style the stomp, you need to start with a solid boof.

Quinn Connell paddles for Dagger Kayaks and is the head coach for World Class Kayak Academy

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