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Kayaking Fundamentals: How to Do a Sculling Brace

The sculling brace is an essential kayak technique that will help you advance in your paddling. Mastering this brace will help you stay upright and aid in completing your roll. This part of our Kayaking Fundamentals video series with expert kayaker Ken Whiting shows you how to execute the sculling brace. Whether sea kayaking or whitewater kayaking, you need to master this important skill.

The sculling brace is an advanced bracing technique that lets you get steady support from your paddle blade. The key to the technique is to keep the blade near the surface of the water, sweeping it back and forth, with a climbing angle on the blade; that is, with the forward edge of the blade slightly elevated so that you’re continually pushing down on the water.

Start practicing with your boat flat on the water and your paddle in the high-brace position. Since the idea behind the sculling brace is to keep a steady downward pressure against the water, you’re going to keep your hands low and the paddle as horizontal as possible. From this position, sweep your paddle forward and backward, about two feet out from the side of your kayak. Focus on keeping a climbing angle on your blade, making quick transitions and using torso rotation to power the stroke.

As you become more comfortable and confident with the stroke, lean your weight over father and farther to the side so that your paddle blade actually needs to supply bracing support. However, the idea behind the sculling brace stroke isn’t to be able to do a trick of leaning over on your side. The technique allows you to keep your balance when you get knocked sideways, or to salvage a failed, or failing, brace or roll. Practice the brace until it is instinctual, and you’ll be ready to automatically pull it off when the need arises!