Open canoe skills 1


Knifing J or Canadian Stroke

How to turn a canoe on the move... paddling tandem.
Look at the series of photos which shows a 180 degree turn while on the move.
  • 1 The canoe is moving forward but about to turn to the left.
  • 2 The bow paddler initiates the turn with a draw stroke (left) and the stern sweeps (right).
  • 3 The bow paddler is using a series of draw strokes while the stern paddler uses sweeps. The canoe is moving forwards but also sideslipping and turning left.
  • 4 The last picture shows the completed U-turn (notice the arc of bubbles/wake showing the track or path of the canoe in photos 3+4).
There are many ways to effectively and efficiently control a canoe...come on one of our trips or coaching sessions to find out more and learn some new strokes and skills!
















Using a long pole (around 4 metres) for propelling and controlling a canoe is fairly straightforward and fun.  It gives a welcome change of position from sitting or kneeling and from using a paddle.


It's an excellent way of both ascending and descending shallow rocky rivers especially those with easy rapids and sandy, stony river- beds.  On a recent 90 miles descent of the Dordogne River (France) I poled around half of that distance.


Controlling the canoe against the downstream flow is called snubbing, and travelling upstream against the flow is called poling.


The images show strong, dynamic poling, with excellent transference of power through the pole onto the riverbed of the Cam.  The canoe is travelling very briskly… notice the wake!
The Knifing J Stroke
an advanced open canoe paddle stroke (see Adrian on You Tube below)
A powerful, efficient and effective forward power stroke which gives steering correction towards the paddling side (i.e. a knifing J stroke on the right turns the canoe right). The correction (turning element) is done with the power face of the paddle which is knifed/lifted upwards underwater on the return to the start of the next power stroke/catch point. The stroke can be completed quickly and as the paddle stays in the water longer it gives extra support if needed when in waves and white water.