The sculling draw is a stroke that will allow you to slide sideways in the water in both whitewater and recreational kayaks. In whitewater it’s useful for maneuvering in small eddies, for positioning yourself next to an eddie line in preperation for a ferry or for paddling out onto a wave. In recreational kayaking the sculling draw allows you to pull up parallal to the shore, a dock or your friends with ease.
When you learn and practice a variety of strokes such using good technique you develop more overall efficiency, power and finess in your paddling. So don’t just focus on the forward stroke — learn and practice draws too!
Here are some tips on the sculling draw:
Photo 1: Notice that my top arm is reaching over to the same side as my bottom arm so that the paddle is almost completely vertical. This verticality is important because it allows your blade to catch more water (y paddle is not vertical to help show the angle of the blade), making the stroke more efficient. If your paddle isn’t vertical then the stroke becomes more like a sculling brace on the surface of the water instead of a stroke that draws you sideways.
To allow my top arm to reach across I start by rotating my body toward the paddle and then reach my hand over and grasp the paddle. If your body is facing straight ahead the proper positioning of the top arm becomes awkward.
Photo 2: As I move my blade toward the front of my boat my wrist is feathered so that the power face of my blade is SLIGHTLY facing the front. This slight feather is key. If you feather your blade too much then you start catching more water, your kayak starts turning and the stroke feels and looks strenuous.
Notice that my body rotates toward the front as I move my blade toward the front. My paddle is acting as an extension of my torso.
Photo 3: I feather my wrist SLIGHTLY so that my power face opens slightly toward the back as I begin the movement of my blade toward the back of my kayak.
My bottom hand acts as the control hand in this stroke even if it’s not my normal control hand. This gives me more control and finesse.
Photo 4: My body rotates toward the back of my kayak and my blade follows. My torso is very active and this makes it easier for my top arm to keep it’s reach so that the paddle remains vertical.
Photo 5: I feather my bottom wrist slightly toward the front as my torso rotates toward the front and my blade follows. This repetitive ‘sculling’ motion is tracing a figure eight in the water with your paddle. As you repeat the figure eight motion you catch more water and draw toward the side of your boat. This is how you move yourself sideway.