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  low vs high brace, NOT in surf
  Posted by: gjf12 on May-07-14 12:14 AM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

Assume you are trying out a fairly new and tippy boat, say a Nordkapp, off shore in moderate winds (15 to 20), chop and current. Would you be doing more high or low braces to keep upright as you change direction and maneuver with respect to the conditions?

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Messages in this Topic


  depends on what you are doing
  Posted by: Peter-CA on May-07-14 12:43 AM (EST)
Depends on what you are doing.

If forward stroke, I suspect a high brace would be more common, as it seems like it would be easier to get into that position.

If forward sweep, probably high. if reverse sweep, probably low brace.

  A few "Oh s---'s always help me!
  Posted by: JackL on May-07-14 5:11 AM (EST)
Jack L
  HI and low braces
  Posted by: JayBabina on May-07-14 7:45 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-07-14 7:46 AM EST --

You learn these braces as a vocabulary of possible tools that can be used and you adapt a paddling style that fits you. I tend to agree with Peter with the high brace. The paddle stroke itself is a brace and I can really lean on mine if I need to just by making it into a flatter angle. I can turn my boat with it, brace with it and propel the boat with it too. I personally find the low brace more acedemic than useful for my personal paddling style. Usually if the water is big enough for me to really need a brace, it's as high as my torso and the high brace is perfect. I use the low brace if I drop my hat in the water and need to pick it up like a pulling a pizza out of an oven.

  The Nordkapp
  Posted by: magooch on May-07-14 9:20 AM (EST)
First of all, I wouldn't consider the Nordkapp to be a tippy boat.

Bracing if required should be an instinctive reaction and if required, you probably won't have more than a split second to think about it.
  Posted by: pblanc on May-07-14 9:32 AM (EST)
In a kayak the high brace, combined with a head dink, is probably going to be used more often than the low brace. As long as the high brace is kept low with the elbows close in to the sides, the shoulders won't be at risk. In a canoe, the low brace is used much more frequently, at least for on-side braces.

The exception for using the high brace primarily in a kayak would be when the non-power face of the blade is already loaded when one starts to go over, as it would be during a reverse sweep or stern pry. In that case I think it is much easier to turn the loaded back face down towards the water.
  I disagree
  Posted by: rjd9999 on May-07-14 11:17 AM (EST)
in that sea kayaking only requires high braces occasionally. Generally when, as someone pointed out, at the top of waves or when the boat broaches in surf. All other times, I use a low brace, since there is still plenty of time to set up and it is really easy to switch from low to high (on the same side, generally) when such a thing is warranted.

In white water, high braces are much more commonly used, although whenever possible, I use low braces and save the high brace for those times when nothing else will do.

  I also use a low brace often
  Posted by: castoff on May-07-14 11:28 AM (EST)
Especially if I need to brace on the side my paddle is in the water already. I find it easy to swing the low brace forward while on the water for a forward stroke without ever having to lift the blade from the water.

It depends on which side I would need to brace and the position of the paddle at the time. Like someone said it should become automatic.

Playing in the surf makes for a quick learning curve on bracing.
  Question is somewhat ambiguous
  Posted by: bignate on May-07-14 2:52 PM (EST)
It's not entirely clear to me what you mean with respect to "keep upright as you change direction and maneuver with respect to the conditions?" Are you referring to something more akin to using a brace as part of a maneuvering stroke (or setting up to be ready to use one if necessary), or more of an "oh sh*t" brace, where you're on the way to a capsize absent some intervention?

With respect to the former, I generally prefer a low brace, which works well in conjunction with a sweep stroke, either as a protective "back sweep" that puts the paddler in a good position to low brace if necessary, or a more explicit low brace turn. Of course, one can utilize a high brace to initiate a more extreme turn, but those have always struck me as less efficient for general touring (as opposed to pivot turns in surf or eddying in/out)

If you find yourself in a position where you're relying on a lot of "oh sh*t" braces (outside of surf or similar circumstances), then that's a more fundamental concern than the type of brace you're using. In my experience, that's a pretty good indication of someone who simply isn't comfortable paddling in those conditions. One of the wisest bits of boating advice ever given to me was that in most circumstances, the best aid to stability is a good, confident forward stroke.
  what my body tells me to do
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-07-14 4:21 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-07-14 4:22 PM EST --

If you know both and use them often enough it becomes a reflexive reaction. So I don't bother with what-if scenarios. The only reason I can think of for this question is to settle an argument that is taking place off the water.

  ha ha exactly right
  Posted by: gjf12 on May-07-14 4:36 PM (EST)
This question was to get other opinions on an off the water argument. My adversary insists that the low brace is all he uses in rough conditions, unless dealing with a large wave coming from the side. He even states that he has less confidence in the high brace since he rarely uses it. On the other hand, I don't have a preference, low or high, and am not really aware of how often I use each. I was very interested in other's take on this.

Also the question of reflexive or split second braces is related. I paddle a Seda Ikkuma, and extremely stable boat, alternating with a Q700, a pretty stable boat. I also do not sally forth into off shore winds greater than 20. So 99% of my braces are precautionary or anticipatory, almost never reflexive.
  Repeat of prior
  Posted by: Celia on May-07-14 4:28 PM (EST)
I am repeating prior - just sat down and I have the sense that something I did not mean to be personally directed was taken as same. So I took out the other bit of response and am repeating it here. To the question -

If you are trying to simply stop from capsizing due to a surprise that hits you from somewhere, a low brace will do the job.

But if you are trying to make forward progress or turn over the top of a wave - you did specify winds up to 20 - a low brace is not going to give you much impulsion. In that case you need a high brace integrated with a forward or turning stroke.
  I too had no intention to offend if that
  Posted by: castoff on May-07-14 7:04 PM (EST)
Was the case.
  low brace 90% of the time
  Posted by: NateHanson on May-07-14 5:09 PM (EST)
use the high brace once your shoulder hits the water. Until then, low brace is almost always more effective and safer.
  Whatever is fastest--like dabbing
  Posted by: pikabike on May-07-14 7:05 PM (EST)
That pretty much means some high-brace-like movement if paddling forward, low-brace-like if reverse paddling.

I think of them as similar to "dabbing" when mountain biking technical trails. Just a quick touch to keep the right side up, then back to propelling.
  Posted by: pblanc on May-07-14 7:34 PM (EST)
I think that is a good assessment. If the power face is loaded, a high brace is usually quicker and more instinctive. If the back face is loaded, a low brace applies.

If one has the time to actually anticipate the need for a brace, either can be used.

In modern whitewater kayaking, the power face is typically loaded more frequently and high braces are used more often. In fact, I have known skilled whitewater kayakers who have seldom, if ever thrown a low brace.
  agree with ya for kayaks
  Posted by: tdaniel on May-09-14 11:16 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-09-14 11:34 AM EST --

but find the reverse to be true for c1s and open canoes as well when in ww
and suspect, even though I'm inexperienced in a marine environment and longboats that what many are calling a low brace is actually a high brace done in a low position using the power face of the blade.

  agree with you guys
  Posted by: capefear on May-08-14 1:31 PM (EST)
Like Jay said above. "The paddle stroke itself is a brace and I can really lean on mine if I need to just by making it into a flatter angle."
A surprise brace for me is usually just flattening the blade angle, getting my hips back under me, and continuing. So there's not really a decision involved. It's really more often during a maneuver than just paddling, as I try to use my edges to my advantage.

I've never really understood debates about this, other than I understand that many believe it should be avoided. I think it stems from trainers dealing with beginners and related injuries. I think learning a good, safe high brace should be practiced and drilled into muscle memory. In other words, not avoided, but done over and over and over and over...
I hate to think what happens when I take pride in never using a high brace, and then in an unexpected turbulent situation, I reflexively come down onto a high brace with my shoulder in a compromised position. It should not be used for the first time in rough water.

Just about everyone regularly rolls in an extended arm high brace position. Rolling your shoulder back to extend the sweep, and then trying to pull yourself up with the paddle, is I think a common way for people to tweak a shoulder.

Shoulder paddling is another way to come down on your paddle with your shoulder in a compromised position. The more you keep your shoulders rolled forward, and use your torso to extend rotation in the place of that shoulder motion, the safer your shoulders are.

I can do pullups with my arms and elbows extended straight in the air, so it's not really about that. So I just think it's incredibly important for people venturing into rough water to have the safe high brace shoulder position engrained into muscle memory. And that takes dedicated practice vs. avoidance.

Isn't shoulder injury always the basis for someone low-brace-centric?

  yes, but that doesn't make sense
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-08-14 3:13 PM (EST)
I agree it's often a result of what you say. But my opinion is the low brace done properly actually exposes your shoulder more significantly than a high brace done properly.
  Posted by: rjd9999 on May-09-14 10:14 AM (EST)
Slush, that should not happen at all. The entire purpose of a low brace is to keep the paddle much lower to the hips than a high brace.

Shoulders get injured as a result of the elbows extending up to or above the shoulders. If you want to see the proof of this, put your hands over your head and have someone push on them - they will move easily because the shoulder is a very weak joint when the arms are high. Drop the elbows to 90 degrees and repeat. You will see the shoulder is in a much stronger position, but it is till weaker than if the elbows are well below the shoulders. Drop them further so the elbows are below the shoulder and you will find that here, you are very well protected from virtually any injury.

A low brace isn't just a matter of which paddle face is used (if it were, there would be only the high brace and it would be used all the time since it is stronger), but also how the brace is applied. Elbows low and close to the body and keeping the hands below the chin, will keep the joints in a strong support position.

I have never seen an injury during a low brace, but in WW, I can imagine some impacts or forces that could exceed the strength of the joint. I don't think a high brace would ever save someone from that type of injury unless if, perhaps, it was applied at the moment needed to keep the paddler from the zone where such an impact or force injury might occur.

  Posted by: rjd9999 on May-09-14 10:16 AM (EST)
I think you meant to say, "low brace done improperly..." and kind of missed the point of the post because of that.


  no problem. completely agree w/what you
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-12-14 8:49 AM (EST)
  A pullup
  Posted by: rjd9999 on May-09-14 10:29 AM (EST)
isn't really a good analogy since, at the start, all the forces in a pullup are vertical (thus, in line with the body). As you lift yourself, bending the elbows shortening the length of the levers, it becomes even less likely to result in injury. The muscles and soft tissues of the shoulder can handle that type of force even IF you are attempting a weight that exceeds your strength (so one is rarely, if ever, injured, doing pullups, even if overweight).

A high brace exposes the shoulder to injury because not only are the arms (more) extended, but the forces encountered are most definitely not aligned with the body. The amount of torque that the distant edge of a paddle can deliver to the shoulder can easily exceed the design of the joint.

Simplest fix is to keep the elbows as low toward the hips as possible for executing the brace. As the elbows rise toward the shoulder, the shoulder steadily loses strength and is more likely injured.


  Learn/Practice the Continuum...
  Posted by: sing on May-08-14 2:28 PM (EST)
low brace, high brace, roll... Use what you need, when you need it.

  when needed?
  Posted by: gjf12 on May-09-14 1:00 PM (EST)
Most braces, low or high, are done when they MIGHT be needed, not necessarily when they are needed. You enter an area of turbulence/clapotis and see waves coming and apply the appropriate brace, just in case. Or start surfing down a wave that might be too big and apply a low brace, just in case. Or see a large wave coming from the side and planting a high brace.

It takes some practice, and acceptance of some risk, to just paddle through these areas without bracing at all. Often one can learn that no brace was really needed.
  when it came to ww I was a float and
  Posted by: tdaniel on May-09-14 11:04 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-09-14 11:09 PM EST --

and brace kinda guy- 12 bracing strokes in as many seconds- if I had only been paddling forward, I might not have needed to do any of that.

15:38 to 15:52

  Practicing with words
  Posted by: sing on May-11-14 8:01 AM (EST)
as in the original post, the questions about which brace, when, where, etc. is all practicing with words.

If you practice and play on the water, you get to the point you don't argue about which when, what... You just do as needed, or do not at all. It becomes mindless (without thought, nevermind words).

  certainly the goal is to be able to
  Posted by: tdaniel on May-11-14 9:04 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-11-14 9:08 AM EST --

"do" not just talk about boating. I'm an advocate of the "go out and paddle" and see what works method. If you want to become a better boater, boat with folks who are better than you. You can pay for that or not. Pick their brain and watch and emulate them. I've got a friend who's got some serious skills- he'll give on the water pointers and then say "don't even think about coming back to see me until you've put 30 hours of time in, and "you need to be practicing the drills/skills I showed you and gave you feedback on when you were trying them out."
But talking is important as well. I gleaned a lot of information off of this one thread. "The shoulders and elbows in to prevent injury," "with more speed you're less likely to need bracing strokes", "kayakers tend to high brace more," "c1ers and canoeists are likely to include low braces as well," "which side of the paddle blade is loaded when paddling determines what type of brace is most effective","bracing can be as simple as a slap or dab when needed,""perhaps the goal is to paddle more and brace less" all of those thoughts are swirling around in my head- and that's interesting to me, and helps develop a vocabulary to "talk" about paddling. When working with less experienced folks you need to be able to explain as well as demonstrate. Ultimately, teaching is about "what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to." I've been accused of creating a bunch of "hunched down paddle slappers" at our beginners clinic. That's what $20.00 (the registration fee) will get ya with me. Of course they could always go and do it themselves. The important thing is that either way "I'm still a legend in my own mind" and they think I can paddle.

  terminology is misleading
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on May-09-14 9:15 PM (EST)
There is not one "high" brace or one "low" brace. A forward stroke is the best brace and if necessary you can turn it into a scull (which is a high brace technically). Or you can use a reverse stroke and scull back to front if your paddle is in that position and that can be in either high or low brace position. In other words bracing is primarily paddle movement that you can do given where your paddle is. The hip snap is mostly irrelevant except to support your paddle stroke.
  Posted by: ppine on May-11-14 12:05 PM (EST)
what sing said.


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