You may have been there. You are on the wave, with a brilliant, beautiful pass in front of you. You drop your edge, you plant paddle, and then…. nothing. Not the blunt you were hoping for, which would win the admiration of your friends on the bank, or be the perfect shot for your Facebook status update, but a roundhouse. A poo turn… The red headed step-child of wave moves. Humiliating.
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
A common struggle in the playboating progression is figuring how to break free of what I have deemed the curse of the roundhouse, scientifically known as “rounhouseitis.”
Rather than hang your head in shame, and slink back into the eddy, here are four ways you can tweak your blunts to refine them and keep them vertical every time.
Start by visualizing the perfect blunt. Imagine: as you come down the face of the wave, place your boat on edge, driving through the rail toes to hip. Your paddle takes a small boof like stroke as your first edge drops, your body shifting slightly; moving from forwards over your toes, to back over your hips before you rotate your shoulders to plant your paddle on the opposite side. Push the paddle back towards your toes as you transfer your weight to the second edge, and you should feel your stern pick up and pivot around the bow. Easy, right?
So where can it all go wrong?
The foundation of the blunt lies in committing to your rail drive, and your transfer between edges. The more aggressive your edge to edge transfer, the more vertical your blunts will go. To commit more to your edges, practice driving your boat on edge on the flatwater first. Think about using your lower body to put your boat on edge, driving through your heels and hips, rather than your upper body. A good acceleration stroke can also help to put your boat on edge.
It can help to offset your angle slightly when setting up on the wave. If you want to blunt to the right, give your bow a small amount of left angle as you come down on your left edge. This will allow the water to help your boat rotate so you don’t have to do all the work. This will also allow more time for your bow to pivot without purling.
There are three strokes in a blunt; your acceleration stroke, which happens on the takeoff, your blunt stroke, and the recovery stroke to help you retain the feature.
A common contributing factor to a blunt flattening into a roundhouse is the paddle placement on the blunt stroke. Think about it like a lever, or a pivot point. The more vertical the paddle and the closer it is to the boat, the easier it is for your boat to pivot around, resulting in more vertical ends. The further out or more horizontal your paddle shaft is, the more you lean your body out away from the boat, making it harder for your ends to rotate.
The key piece here is to keep your body sitting up and eyes looking back upstream. You want to wind up your body as your drop your first edge and take your acceleration stroke, then pivot your shoulders as you plant your paddle for the blunt stroke so they are parallel to your second edge. Driving your shoulders over your second edge lets your body act like a spring, coiling up and releasing, powering your release. The challenge is to avoid collapsing your chest down towards your knees, or throwing your body downstream too early, both of which can kill your boats rotation. To solve this, I like to think about throwing my top hand back upstream, and about flicking my hip or butt back upstream to help drive the boat around. If you watch a really nice blunt, it almost looks as though the paddler is standing up, keeping their chest up and away from the cockpit.
Not sure of which of these is causing you problems? Try having friends watch and critique you- or try filming your rides to see if you can figure out where your blunts are lacking. Good luck- and happy paddling!