The Clean Cartwheel is the a fun move alone, but is also a gateway move to lead to lots of other fun tricks as well. By learning the clean cartwheel, you’ll also be learning edge control, balance, and torso rotation in a way that will eventually help you throw more ends in a row, superclean cartwheel, back blunt, and even flashback! You should be able to do a normal cartwheel before trying this, and I find that smaller or slower holes are often easier for learning this (or perfect your skills in the flatwater first!). Here’s how to do it–All direction will assume that you’re going right because that’s the direction that Clay is going in the photos:
1. Set-up at the top of the foam, as spot where you want to initiate your bow.
2. Angle your boat slightly to the left (11:00 o’clock) as you reach back for your reverse sweep on the right and lift your left knee.
3. Push down on your heels to bury the bow at the same time you push on the right reverse sweep to push the bow under you with a little more force than you would for a normal cartwheel.
4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Once vertical, take the stroke out of the water, and twist your torso and paddle aggressively back to the right ahead of the stern end. You will also need to switch edges as the stern falls into the water–your right knee should be up as it hits. ***The faster and more aggressively you snap your torso twist ahead of the turn, the easier the stern will come through***. Think about crunching your bow up into the air as you twist so that the stern is sliced through. I focus on looking upstream and trying to sight my right elbow upstream as the clean stern comes through.
5. Flatten the boat out as it comes around to forward again, and put it down with a right forward stroke to stay on the wave.
A few Jedi secrets passed down over the centuries:
-If you feel resistance on the bow end (it’s hard to push it through), it almost always has to do with your angle to the hole. Think of it like this: If you are cartwheeling right and initiate angled right at all, the first part of your boat to hit the water is your right bow HULL rail. Since your hull is hitting the oncoming water first, the water will try to flatten your edge out, rather than pulling you more vert. Whereas if you angle left a little bit when you try to cartwheel right, the oncoming water will first hit your right DECK on your bow rail. This will pull you into more edge and more vert and make the end go through with very little effort.
-Practice cartwheel moves in the flatwater if possible. REALLY focus on that torso rotation ahead of the stern end. Your goal should be that your torso literally DRAGS the stern through.
-If you fall over on the stern end a lot, it’s also probably the fault of the angle of initiation on your BOW end. When you try to go right angled right, you will not only feel resistance, BUT ALSO be pulled upstream into the hole as bow goes through. This will make the stern engage way too far upstream (and with WAY too much angle left). So you’ll be pulled over on your head before you can get vert.
Hope this helps! Enjoy the pics of Clay at that fun little hole just above the take-out of the Upper Gauley. Happy Clean wheels!
Live from Cathedral Café in Fayettevile, WV,