For those starting out in paddling, turning into an eddy or peeling out of an eddy are often a big challenge which leads to many flips and rolls.
There are three important steps that I like to discuss when learning how to get your eddy turns and peel outs.
All three areas are needed to be able to do a good peel out or eddy turn.
Every eddy turn and peel out needs a bit of speed, so a couple of strong strokes to get your boat moving is required.
Imagine that upstream is 12 o’clock and downstream is 6 o’clock. To turn into an eddy come at it with a little bit more speed than the water itself. Head in with a 4 or 5 o’clock angle and try to point the nose of your boat to just downstream of the rock that is creating the eddy and then finish facing upstream at 12 o’clock. To peel out point your boat at 11 o’clock and then move your boat in the current to then point downstream at 6 o’clock.
Edge refers to how much you tilt your boat over in one direction or the other. I like to use three different edges. One, two or three edge. The higher the number the more you edge your boat. You edge your boat and not your body using your legs in your kayak.
To peel out there are a few ways to get out of an eddy. The first which is the easiest however does not help you work on your correct peel out turn or your edge control, is to just point your boat downstream and paddle out of the bottom of the eddy. If you are afraid of flipping above an unhappy feature then this could be the way to go however you are not helping progress your boating.
The next way is use the three important steps of speed angle and edge to get your boat to either catch an eddy or to peel out and get your boat in the middle of the whitewater to head downstream. For your edge, you should increase the edge depending on how strung the eddy change is. If you are moving from a calm section of water to a calm eddy at a relatively slow pace then a number one edge may be enough. On the other hand, if you are paddling from a very fast moving section of whitewater into a sharp eddy then a number three edge maybe required. Knowing the right kind of edge to use will only come with practice, so practice over and over again catching eddies and peeling out of eddies.
The final way is to use my cheat which works quite well. Firstly turn your torso from your waist in the direction you want to turn. Imagine you move your paddle with your torso into the direction you want to turn, enough so that your paddle is parallel to your boat. By doing this, your legs and lower half of your body naturally edge the boat into the direction of travel. If you are unable to get a handle of how to edge your boat or how to hold your edge when you are turning then this is the way that will help you get those skills.
Here is a video showing how to do a peel out.