This article will help to give you a greater understanding of the fundamentals of speed, edge, angle and trim.

People often refer to running specific 'lines' on a section of river. We can give these 'lines' more flexibility with the appropriate application of speed, edge, angle and trim. Let's look at different combinations of these key elements to help develop your understanding.

First we will look at two ends of a huge spectrum, practise and experimentation will deepen your understanding of the options in between.

We'll start with entering the flow. Paddle strokes are taken out of the equation.


Elements that create a wide turn:
  • Good speed
  • Narrow upstream angle
  • A little edge
  • Bow light


Elements that create a tight turn:
  • Low speed
  • Wide upstream angle
  • Lots of edge
  • Bow heavy


Compare the above two sequences with the one below, here a wide turn has been tightened up using an understanding of the hull.

The same key elements are also true when entering an eddy, in this case a narrow downstream angle will make a wider turn.

Some statements to consider:

“It is easier to make a wide turn tighter than it is to make a tight turn wider!”

“Entering a strong flow with a wide upstream angle requires more edge.”

“Entering the flow with a narrow upstream angle, good speed, bow light and a little edge will make a wide turn. Increasing the edge and weighting the bow will tighten up the turn.”

“Entering the flow with a narrow upstream angle will present less hull to the current.”


Speed - Edge - Angle - Trim

Let's experiment with keeping three of the key elements at a constant and varying the other one. A visual marker on the bank or a buoy will help you orientate your findings.

For example:
Keeping the speed, edge and trim constant, vary the angle. Using numbers on a clock face may be useful here: three turns at 1 o'clock, two o'clock and three o'clock.

Keeping the speed, angle and trim constant, vary the edge. Scales can be useful here. One being as little edge as you can hold, three being the most and two in the middle. (Remember that we are looking for a stable edge!) Three turns on a one, two and three.

The variables of the above are huge! Don't forget that these drills can also be used for entering an eddy and even adapted to flat water drills, carving would be a good example.