Not only will the bow stall improve your balance and vertical boat control, it will also give you something to do in the eddy while you wait for your turn to surf. Follow these steps to paddle into the third dimension with a kayak bow stall.


How to do a kayak bow stall

There are two ways to initiate a bow stall. The most straightforward method is to paddle your bow straight ahead and down until you reach a point of equilibrium. If there is too much volume in your bow you may have a tough time submerging it.

two male whitewater kayakers demonstrate the kayak bow stall in an icy river
Paddle into the third dimension with a kayak bow stall. | Feature photo: Tyler Toohey

1 Get straight to it

Start by taking a few paddle strokes in your neutral body position to attain some speed. Keeping the boat straight while paddling your bow underwater is difficult. Look ahead to a reference point instead of staring at the bow of your boat.

2 Catch a lift and lean forward

Once you have some momentum and a wake forms behind you, stop paddling for one second to allow the wake to catch up to your boat. It will lift your stern and help push your bow down and forward. Once your bow dives below the surface you want to continue paddling with your weight all the way forward. Remember to bend at the hips and not at the back.

3 Shorten strokes, push down

As the bow dives, make your strokes shorter and quicker to keep the momentum steady. Once the boat begins to approach vertical, push down with your legs and feet to drive the bow right under your body.

4 Keep your balance

Continue leaning forward and try to put both paddle blades and your face in the water. Your paddle blades and head form a tripod and let you maintain balance. By leaning back you can push the boat entirely vertical—but only for a second. Once the bow dives too deep it will no longer support your upper body, the kayak will fall forward and you’ll land on your face. To stay in a bow stall, keep your head near water level.

Paddling Magazine Issue 65 | Fall 2021

This article originally appeared in Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Paddle into the third dimension with a kayak bow stall. | Feature photo: Tyler Toohey



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