Open Canoe Technique: Wave Turns

There you are, heading downstream, a maze of breaking waves, holes and fast current ahead. Off to the side is a great shore eddy with your name on it. The problem is that you’re traveling downstream faster than the current so there’s little chance of catching the eddy using traditional steering strokes. The solution may be right there in front of you—do a wave turn on an approaching breaking wave and front ferry across to the eddy.

Redirecting your downstream momentum toward the eddy requires the creative use of water features. Wave turns are just the trick to spin your canoe up- stream and halt your downstream momentum. Even better, wave turns set you up for a front ferry to take you across to that eddy pool you’ve been eyeing.


Set up for a wave turn by angling your bow 45 degrees or more to the breaking part of a wave. Aim for the pile so that the water falling upstream into the trough captures your bow. 

As the bow anchors itself in the foam pile, your stern remains in the downstream current and passes the wave resulting in a spin pointing…

 This article appeared in Rapid, Spring 2013. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read the rest here.


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