This article is fairly theoretical, almost isolating dynamic edge stability. This may seem a little odd as edge stability is one of the elements of white water boating that is fundamental to almost everything we do. Because of this, the intention is for it to be used as more of a reference whilst working on other articles than as a stand alone 'element' of boating.

Dynamic body lean: visualise a cyclist leaving a straight, entering a tight but short corner and then straightening out again to finish. They start off upright, gradually increase their lean, then gradually decrease their lean and finish upright again. The faster they are travelling or the tighter the turn the more dynamic the lean needs to be.

The cyclist analogy is easy to relate to but one fundamental difference must be understood: our speed decreases throughout the turn. Therefore, the decreasing of the lean is more dynamic for the paddler!

Let's take this concept to an eddy turn: entering an eddy.

Keeping the speed constant: too much lean and the paddler capsizes to the inside of the turn, not enough lean and the paddler capsizes to the outside of the turn.
Keeping the lean constant: too much speed and the paddler capsizes to the outside of the turn, not enough speed and the paddler capsizes to the inside of the turn.

 

 

Driving the boat through a turn will increase the carving effect of the hull and add stability to your edge when dynamic body lean is applied. A skidding turn necessary to enter a narrow eddy has to be applied with spin momentum rather than forward momentum, here less lean is applied. So, if a turn skids out (loss of forward momentum) with dynamic body lean, the paddler capsizes to the inside of the turn.

 

Now experiment with this:
Kneel in your boat on flat water, keeping your torso and head upright shift your torso to the right. This will sink some weight onto your right bum cheek and knee.
Now rotate your upper body to the right, you should feel your left bum cheek unweight. The left thigh should engage your bulkhead or strap but not actively lift.

 

 

Now practise the torso shift and rotation together. Ok, now familiarise yourself with this movement on both sides by moving smoothly from one side to the other. This is a dynamic 'J' lean with body rotation.

 

These two types of lean are rarely used in isolation, (with the exception of the 'J' lean in playboating!) We need to blend them together for a smooth and efficient turn. The dynamic body lean, appropriate to the eddy turn and forward momentum will keep the paddler stable, whilst the 'J' lean will control the amount of edge engaged. This is done as one fluid movement, how much of each lean you use and when it is applied will vary depending on the environment.