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Kayaking Fundamentals: How to Do a High Brace

VideoApril 29, 2013

The high brace is an essential kayak technique that will help you avoid a flip. In this video, expert kayaker Ken Whiting shows you how to execute the high brace. Whether sea kayaking or whitewater kayaking, you need this important skill.

The high brace and the low brace are essentially the same. They both involve reaching out and slapping the water to get the support you need to hip snap your kayak upright. It’s important to realize that the slap of the paddle provides momentary support; the hip snap does the rest.

As you flip, the only way to right the kayak is to pull up with the knee that’s going under water. The only way to pull up with the knee is to drop your head in the direction that you’re flipping. Seems counterintuitive, but it’s the only way that it works! Your head must be the last thing that comes up after a well-executed hip snap. If you raise your head early you will inadvertently pull up with your top knee, which flips you more quickly. If you’re having problems with this, try looking down at your slapping blade; it’s harder to lift your head when you’re looking down.

The high brace is definitely the most powerful of the recovery techniques. However, be aware that if done incorrectly your shoulders will be at risk for hyperextension and injury. You need to keep your arms and the paddle low and in the “chin-up position,” with your forearms almost vertical.

Reach out over the water with the power face of the paddle facing down. Once you slap the water, pull your paddle blade inward, roll you knuckles inward and slice the blade out of the water.

Once you’re comfortable with the high brace on both sides, start tilting the boat and practicing the head-drop / knee pull-up motion.