The Bow/Draw Rudder

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The bow/draw rudder is one of the hardest, but most efficient, kayaking strokes.

While the stern rudder will turn your boat by using your paddle as a rudder near the back of the kayak, you can also perform the bow/draw rudder instead. This is essentially the same move, however, it is performed in front of the kayak. You may only need to know one or the other kayaking move, however, it’s always best to know several different techniques so that you will always have something else to try if you get in trouble.

This is one of the hardest strokes to learn if you are just starting out, which is why you should probably learn the stern rudder and other turning moves first. That way, if you are unable to perform the bow/draw rudder, you won’t have any major problems on the water as a result of being unable to turn. The reason you should work on learning this stroke eventually, however, is that it is one of the most useful strokes that you will ever learn.

Not only can the bow/draw rudder be used to turn the boat, but you can also use it to slow down your kayak.
This stroke starts out like the forward sweep, but instead of finishing the move, you should put the paddle into the water at about 45 degrees with the surface. The paddle should enter the water near your knees, and the front of the paddle blade should be facing toward the front of the kayak.

Next, you should pull the paddle toward your shins, and use trunk rotation to make your turn more powerful. This should slow down your kayak a little – and once you finish the bow/draw rudder, then you should complete the stroke as you would a forward sweep stroke. Since this is such a complicated kayaking move, don’t be surprised if it takes you some extra work to get it right.

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Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.