Stern Draw / Rudder
The stern draw is a steering stroke that can be used to make subtle changes to the direction of the boat. It involves placing the paddle blade in the water towards the stern of the boat and using it to make small changes to the direction of travel.
How to do a stern draw
The stern draw requires momentum to work effectively, but as with most skills it is a good idea to practice it without speed at first to get the feel of the movement and the positions used during the stroke.
1. Start by using good torso rotation to turn so you can place a paddle blade in the water (behind your hip) towards the stern of your boat. With the face of the paddle blade facing inwards towards your boat.
2. Your paddle should be horizontal and low and running almost parallel with your boat.
In this position you should have good body rotation with your torso and shoulders rotated towards your paddle and still be within the safety of your paddlers box with your elbows slightly bent.
3. Depending on the direction you would like to steer your boat you can draw your boat towards or away from the paddle blade using a subtle “squeeze” like motion against the water.
Generate power for the movement, from this squeeze by pushing or pulling slightly against the force of the paddle blade that’s in the water and drawing your boat towards or away from the paddle blade with your hip.
4. Continue to trail your blade in the water and use it to steer until you are ready to perform your next paddle stroke.
5. Practice this again this time with momentum. Start by paddling forwards
6. Once you have some speed. Leave the blade in the water at the end of a paddle stroke and allow it to trail along behind the boat.
7. Practise steering the boat using this stern draw / rudder technique.
8. Have a go on the left and right and at different speeds.
So long as you have forward momentum you should be able to continue to use this paddle stroke to to control the direction of your boat.
Use only subtle amounts of pressure on the blade to help you steer.
If the boat is tracking a straight line you may be able to just let your blade hang in the water without having to do any steering or direction changes as it’s shape and position in the water will allow it to act as a rudder helping the boat remain straight.
Choose where and when you use this stroke wisely as as well as being a very effective steering stroke it can also acts as a breaking stroke and can slow down your boats speed and momentum.