Reverse Sweep or Bow Draw?

If you want to complete an inside pivot (solo), or make corrections or turns to the off-side when paddling backward you can use either a reverse sweep or a bow draw. Neither stroke is better than the other, it depends on the conditions and the outcome you want. Over the last several years I have been doing a bow draw more often as it provides a little more power at the end of the stroke, and the opportunity to switch to a bow pry (if necessary). In both cases the the canoe turns away from the paddling side.

When executing a pivot (solo) a full sweep is used starting from behind the paddling position, pushing out and away from the canoe and arcing forward to pull into the canoe in front of the paddler. When completing with a bow draw the power faces switches half way (or a bit more) through the stroke by rolling the paddle toward you, and then completing with a draw. The key in either case is keeping the blade perpendicular to the surface of the water, and maximizing the distance from the canoe [paddler].

When paddling backward, setting a ferry in moving water, or doing reverse corrections only a half sweep is required (hip-to-tip). The bow draw is a powerful correction stroke can often lead to over correcting. Use of either stroke for reverse lines applies to both solo and tandem paddling.

Solo Pivot

Reverse Sweep

Reverse Sweep with Bow Draw completion

Reverse Paddling

Reverse Sweep

Bow Draw

Both together

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June 6, 2019