Friday 23 July 2021
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The cartwheel is one of the key fundamental skills in freestyle as it is the basis for many intermediate and advanced moves. The cartwheel involves placing your boat on edge and sinking either you nose or stern and then moving to sink the opposite end nose or stern in the water.


ICF Definition

Two consecutive ends in the same rotational direction, and both ends at a vertical angle between 45° and 100°.

Value is 30 points


Screen Shot 2012-09-25 at 18.06.44


How to do a Cartwheel

1. Set up on the top of the pile ready to initiate your first end.

You can do this by surfing to the top of the pile or using a spin to get you to the top.

2. Come down the pile and aim to initiate your first end into the seam where the green water meets the foam pile. Do this by putting your boat on edge and doing your double pump just before your boat hits the green water.

Look upstream and lift the bow up using a forward double pump stroke and then slam it into the water keeping your posture neutral and your boat on edge.

3. Try to keep your balance over the boat. Use the slam stroke to bring your bow all the way through the water and stern up into the air. You will also want to use your legs to guide your boat down into the water.

4. The moment your boat is vertical and your stern is straight in the air take your initiation stroke out of the water and put your other blade in the water ready to do a forward sweep. Your boat will natural fall into the second end so you want to get head of the boat and be ready to pull it through.

This is all going to happen super quick so be ready to get off that intuition stroke and into position for the forward sweep stroke quickly.

5. Look around and upstream and get ready. You want to wait until your stern hits the water to do this forward sweep.  Have it ready before then but save the power until the stern hits so you can use it to pull your stern through the water and your bow up into the air.

6. Again as the boat comes over vertical it will natural begin to fall for the next end. To keep the cartwheels going and go for that third end, be ready and as the bow goes over vertical get ahead of the boat and get your paddle in position to do another back sweep stroke to smash the bow back into the water and the stern back into the air.

7. Wait until the boat falls and as it is about to hit the water apply the power from the back stroke and lift your stern up into the air and push your feet and bow down and through the water once more.

8. As the boat passes over vertical get ready to repeat stage 4 – 7 and cartwheel away end over end until you are dizzy or tired and have to stop.


In its most simple terms a cartwheel involves just two paddle strokes, a push and a pull. Combined with body rotation, some edge and the power of a hole.

‘Ferry out, drop your edge and then push and then pull’. EJ


Top Tips

Cartwheels happen really quick and if you get them right don’t require a lot of power from the blade hence the ability to do clean cartwheels and super cleans. It’s all about being ready and getting ahead of the trick so you can stay in control.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the double pump and lean clean exercises to help you develop your edge control on the flat

Also work on trying to develop your flat water cartwheel and then transfer this skill onto the moving water.

To help with the timing, you can try keep your eyes fixed on a point directly in front of when you start your cartwheel and use this to help you with the timing of the body rotations during the move. This will help you keep straight and in the sweet spot in a hole which will prevent you travelling and flushing out of the feature. Find a point directly upstream and fix your eyes on this point at the start of the move. Keep them there until your physically can’t keep them their any longer. This will be about the time that your stern has past over vertical and into your peripheral view and starts to fall. At this point switch and look over the opposite shoulder back to the same point again. This body rotation and head switch will help give you momentum through the move. Helping the boat fall and slice through the water for the next end. Combine it with the paddle stroke above and you should quickly find you have a smooth controlled cartwheel.

Try not to throw your weight back and forwards during the move. This will cause you to pop and bounce and will make the cartwheels ends a lot harder to control. Keep your body almost neutral and balanced over the boat and use just small weight transfers to help engage the ends.