In this article, we will look at maximising the efficiency of the hull by driving the boat through turns.

This will deepen your understanding of the relationship between boat and blade and allow you to draw more dynamic lines on the river.

Breaking In

Let's start with entering the flow from an eddy on your onside. As covered in the previous article we create the appropriate amount of speed, choose our angle and apply the relevant edge. Now we can look at the application of the paddle through key strokes to assist the hull and add flexibility to our lines. A key stroke can be applied on the inside of the turn to drive the boat into the flow.


Cool, now let's take this key stroke concept to our offside. This requires good commitment and a tactical approach to the speed, edge and angle to complement the offside power stroke.


Use the key stroke concept to achieve pinpoint accuracy. I use the analogy of a high jumper, very precise strokes leading to an explosive drive through the turn.

Combine this with an understanding of your hull's glide phase for some really exciting results.

Both these turns will feel familiar if you have practised the flat water carving drills below. Putting these drills into the context of an eddy turn, all we have to do is add timing to the key stroke, appropriate speed, angle and trim combined with an understanding of dynamic edge stability to create a smooth and efficient turn.

Breaking Out

Now we can use our understanding of this concept to enter an eddy. As we are now in the flow we already have speed so lateral momentum now becomes key. Aim to cross the eddy line with some downstream angle, time the key stroke on the inside to drive the boat deep into the eddy.

It is worth noting that this key stroke is applied early to prevent the hull skidding out. The length of the stroke combined with the timing will give turns different shapes. An early stroke driven long will widen the turn.


Let's take a moment to consider how these turns are initiated. As we know carving turns incorporate three key elements: forward speed, initiation and edge. We have touched on forward speed and edge, but how do we initiate? Let's look at some options: we can use the current, the blade or a combination of both to initiate the turn. With this in mind, we also need to develop our understanding of what effect the stroke prior to the key stroke is having. Too much initiation and the hull starts to skid out.

Now we've got the hull working! Driving the boat through turns on a dynamic edge will carry forward momentum and prevent the hull from skidding out. These carving turns are really solid and are great for crossing swirly eddy lines or driving deep into eddies or the flow. Combine this with the 'understanding your hull' article to draw some really cool lines on the river.

As we know carving turns are not always the way to go. Some eddies just don't allow us to drive deep into them or we may want to enter the flow and turn immediately downstream. This and more is covered in the 'guiding with the blade' article to add even more flexibility and control to your turns.


The aim of these drills is to deepen your understanding of when to drive the boat through a turn and how the key stroke concept can assist the development of your accuracy and fluidity.


Carving is the ability to carry forward momentum through a turn. This is achieved by understanding the three key elements of forward speed, initiation and edge and how they work together.

Onside Carving:
Create some forward momentum, then initiate the carve with either a subtle pry or a cross forward. Now apply a steady edge towards your onside. Before the hull skids out drive the boat forwards with quality power strokes on the inside of the turn, no correction is needed as the carving effect of the hull is now outweighing the power applied. The more power that is applied, the more the hull will carve!


Offside Carving:

Generate forward speed.

Initiate with a forward power stroke and apply a steady edge.

Drive the boat through the turn with vertical cross forward strokes on the inside of the turn. During the recovery phase the blade slices back through the water, no correction is applied here.

The amount of forward power applied, bow or stern trim and the amount of edge engaged will draw different shaped arcs on the water. Remember to lead these turns with the head and torso.

Carving transitions:
This is a fantastic drill as it incorporates the key elements of eddy turns on flat water. Combine this with the key strokes and timing in the 'driving through turns' article and an understanding of 'dynamic edge stability' for some really smooth and efficient eddy turns.

Onside to offside:
This carving transition can be done with a cool little blend of strokes. When the last onside power stroke finishes at the knee, slice the blade away from the boat by dropping the top hand. The top hand then punches forwards and out over the water to allow the hip to be pulled toward the blade. The edge transition can start when the blade has been sliced away from the boat. Once spin momentum has changed an offside edge is engaged and offside power is applied.


Offside to Onside:
This transition can be achieved with really dynamic rotation and a subtle stern pry.
From the moment the last offside forward stroke finishes, slice the blade out and dynamically rotate to execute a stern pry. The edge transition changes during this rotation. The quicker this move can be done, the less the boat will skid out.

This transition can also be made by flattening the boat out and applying an offside sweep. As the last part of a sweep stroke is the most efficient when correcting it is awkward to execute well. Saying that it is worth practising; it has its uses on the river.

Carve all day:
This takes the flatwater carving drills into the flow, continue to drive the boat on the inside throughout the turns.