Reverse and Cross Reverse Manoeuvres
My Ongoing Journey with FreeStyle

I was out with some FreeStyle friends recently and they gave me some pointers on reverse and cross reverse manoeuvres. I think I am at a point where I can provide some insight into my learning process.

I am paddling a WildFire with a central seat, this means weighting the leading stem (stern) is difficult and involves some adjustment in seating and kneeling for reverse strokes and manoeuvres. If you are doing a lot of reverse/cross reverse you might want to just turn to a transverse kneel - it is much easier using strange seating and full body rotation. Overall you should have a reliable reverse and cross reverse stroke before starting to work on specific manoeuvres. It is important to have enough control to maintain a straight line before moving to additional skills.

I don't have a separate cross-reverse video clip

I was reminded, more than once, to choke up on the shaft, and when nearing the completion of the manoeuvre, setup for the completion stroke (e.g. slice out, prior to draw in Axle). With a good initiation, weighting and heel, the placement of the static stern stroke need not be far back - it can be closer to the paddling station. This provides some room for adjustment for concluding dynamic stroke. In reality most manoeuvres and usually be completed without the paddle contacting the water - just initiate, weight, heel... hold....

All of my mentors have told me to be patient, let the canoe turn maintaining heel and static stroke, only completing with the dynamic portion when the is almost finished. "Wait"... Is the word... be patient.

To simplify the process I am using an Axle as an example for both reverse and cross reverse. I have provided some brief notes for wedge/christie/post as well.

Reverse Axle

This is the same clip as below, just started at a specific time stamp

Alternatively using a transverse kneel is perfectly acceptable, although in my case I need to rotate to the transverse as close as possible to the seat since the trailing stem (stern) will not be released, and will not freely skid - the initiation needs to be fairly strong and intentional.

Building to Reverse Axle - each point is started with a reverse line, and may be repeated until comfortable with the motion of your body and the canoe.

Building off of a reverse axle a reverse wedge and christie will be relatively easy. A reverse post is more complicated as the weighting of your off side knee needs to be in the off-side chine, likely your onside knee will need to remain pointed to the onside (although unweighted).

Cross Reverse

This is the same clip as below, just started at a specific time stamp

You may find it easier to transition to a transverse kneel and completing what amounts to an axle (post or wedge), except it was entered from reverse. The difficult part of this is ensuring there is enough initiation or heel to have the trailing stem (bow) skid through the turn. Initiation must be strong and intentional, the canoe well heeled over.

Build to a Cross Reverse Axle - Practice each point below until the outcome is comfortable and smooth.

In this example the manoeuvre was started with a cross-reverse stroke, there is no reason that you can't start with a reverse stroke and then transition to cross reverse. This would allow you to initiate with an onside sweep, instead of cross-reverse J (or C).

Building off of the axle completing a Wedge or Christie is a matter of working out where the paddle slices or is placed. Some people find a cross-reverse wedge is much easier one-handed. The cross-reverse christie is a weird beast with the grip hand (arm) crossed under the shaft hand (you need to do a weird palm roll under the grip and along the shaft). The Cross-reverse post involves keeping the onside knee in the onside chine, the offside knee likely needs to be pointed across the canoe (but not weighted) to get proper body rotation (it is easier to do a transverse kneel BTW).

A Final Note

Wow that was too much information... My suggestion is to start with completing one kind of manoeuvre (e.g. reverse axle), doing that well and then moving onto the next manoeuvre. Enjoy :-)

Additional References

If you want some additional information on reverse and cross reverse see the Cross Post Articles by someone with much more developed skills than mine:

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