Doing a weight S-Turn

After wasting too much time doing weight turns I thought I should tell you how to get a weight S-turn completed consistently. The first time I did one of these it was quite by accident - once I knew that it was possible I wanted to be able to repeat the experience.

There are three methods that can be used for initiating a weighted turn (paddle, hull shape, body rotation). Two of these can be used to completed weighted S-turns. Generally you will want to have all three techniques working together. Hull Shape and Body Rotation techniques are fairly small effects compared with paddle initiation.

  1. Use of Hull Shape (inside only)

    When paddling traditional solo the canoe will naturally turn to the weighted side or into the 'heel'. When sitting near the middle of the canoe (front to back) the effect is minimal and the canoe will generally turn in either direction based on the momentum or direction the canoe is already going from the last paddle stroke or two. If you move your weight back in the canoe it more likely to turn toward the direction of the heel.

    In my Bluewater Prospector sitting at the bow seat, facing the stern, the canoe turns into the weighted side enough that I generally do not have to do any corrective strokes and if I stop paddling the canoe will turn toward my paddling side.

    Example of a weighted S-Turn.

    To complete a weight S-turn you will need a little speed initially since the weight turn is not speedy and you will need enough time to make the full "S". Move back in your canoe to the point that you no longer need to do any corrective strokes when the canoe is heeled. Ship your paddle and let the canoe start to turn - don't let it go too far or you will not be able to stop the turn and bring it back. Shift your weight to the centre of the canoe to stop the turn. Then continue to weight the opposite side of the canoe from the original heel. The canoe will then turn toward the weighted side of the canoe and complete the "S".

    The trick here is to stop in the centre of the canoe (side to side) long enough that the original turn stops. I found that heeling the canoe on the opposite side alittle, then back to the middle briefly helps. Once the reverse end of the S starts move your weight forward if necessary to speed up the turn.

    You may have varying success at completing a weighted S-turn based on the shape of the canoe in particular the amount of rocker and curve of the stem. Boats with more rocker and less "deadwood" will be more difficult to turn in this way.

    Inside Weighted S Turn - inside, use of hull


  2. Use of Body Rotation and Transfer of Inertia (either direction)

    Outside Weighted S turn - use of body rotation and inertia transfer

    This is the most subtle of the initiation techniques and will be easily overwhelmed by existing inertia, hull shape, wind, etc.... This technique also requires the canoe to be level and heeled at spacific times. Both outside and inside turns can be initiated.

    When paddling the canoe keep the canoe level and paddle so it will run straight for at least several seconds. This will demonstrate that there is no existing turning inertia in the canoe. Rotate your upper body in the direction you want the canoe to turn, heel the canoe and at the same time stop rotating. When you stop rotating the heeled canoe has less turning resistance and your inertia will be transferred into the canoe - magic the canoe turns.

    Level the canoe to stop the canoe from turning and repeat the body rotation in the opposite direction. Heel the canoe to the opposite side when you stop rotating - it turns back.

    Just for fun your can initiate with an inside turn/inside heel and then re-initiate outside turn with inside heel.

    Note: The body rotation in the clip below is exaggerated to demonstration the body rotation and inertia transfer.

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Last modified: Tue Oct 16 19:49:58 2012