[Home]Balance Brace

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QajaqUSA Photo

The balance brace (static brace where you lie on your back), is extremely easy in some kayaks and very difficult in others. QASUERSAARTOQ, meaning "the one resting", is the Greenlandic term for this maneuver.

Hard chines give you flat hull panels that makes this easier. Although it can be done in very beamy kayaks, I prefer a narrow hull without thick [hip pads]? (you want to get your weight down in the water, pads will only lift your center of gravity when the kayak is on its side). I often shift in the cockpit so that I am sitting somewhat on the side of the seat (hip pads would prevent this). Some kayaks "balance brace" so well that they will sometimes hang-you-up on the surface unintentionally, while you are trying various rolls.

Technique, is of course, very important. The basic technique is to twist your shoulders strongly to get your back "flat on the water". Tilt (push) the kayak away from you (the deck seam should not reach perpendicular or beyond or the kayak will simply push your body under the water, try to keep the kayak on as even a keel as possible -- around approx 45 degrees works well), this is usually best accomplished by strongly arching your back. You also get buoyancy from the paddle, or you can refine your "balance brace" so that a paddle is not needed (see Maligiaq above). The simplest method of holding the paddle is in the center with one hand (although I have never seen it done this way in Greenland?).

Therefore try to rotate, fall backwards, hit the water while "pushing the kayak away". As soon as my torso hits the water, I drop the upper leg from the footpeg, so that both legs are lying on top of each other, as low to the water as possible. Relax and think of your body and weight as molten lead.

With practice you will hit, sink slightly and then rebound to the surface. This technique is slightly more difficult in fresh water. You can learn this easier with a paddle float on each end or your paddle or with a helper next to you, to stabilize your kayak and allow you to work on your body position.

Wayne Smith Photo

The immersed side scull (Innaqatsineq in Greenland) uses many of these same technique elements. I usually work with someone until on this until moving to the balance brace.

One very practical use of the balance brace is that it lets you fully stretch your legs and lower back, without having to come ashore. Maligiaq noted that he wasn't permitted to paddle on long trips with the older boys and men, until he learned this technique. Greg Stamer

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Last edited July 7, 2005 12:19 am by RichardP (diff)