Side Sculling Advice Please

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:19 pm

Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by kayakbiker » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:31 am

I'm just wondering does anyone have any tips for side sculling. I can do the basic scull but as soon as my head and body enter the water my paddle sinks quickly followed by me. I see these great videos of people floating on their back next to their kayaks and it looks so easy but it's not. As soon as I present my back to the water I come out of my seat and that's it!! I'm thinking I'm too loose in my seat but I can roll with little effort so I'm not too loose
Thanks to anyone for tips/advice

Posts: 473
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:26 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by Yew » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:45 pm

Just dont. It puts your shoulder in a very exposed position, and has minimal practical use.

However, if you're falling out of the seat, remember to grip tightly with your knees on the thigh braces/cockpit rim to keep you in the boat. Maybe check with your rolling if you feel your bottom leaving the seat pad, as ideally that should be minimised, to ensure you don't end up sitting on your backband and having trouble rolling in an emergency

Posts: 132
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 1:29 pm
Location: Chester NW England
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by seawolf856 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:22 pm

Yew wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:45 pm
Just dont. It puts your shoulder in a very exposed position, and has minimal practical use.
Sounds like great advice to me, what practical use is side sculling anyway? if the boat is that far over, a good high brace and/or hip flick should see you upright.
If you have no trouble rolling and your 'fit' is relaxed in the boat, I'd say all sounds well. Sea kayakers need less contact with the boat to allow for the constant wave action. So it sounds to me as though you have a very good set up. and as Yew says, don't bother.

User avatar
Posts: 13691
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by Jim » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:30 pm

Even WW paddlers don't do this anymore, at least not the way it has always been taught.

However; I would argue about it putting your shoulder in a very exposed position - that depends entirely on how well you are doing it, done right the shoulder is not exposed, done badly it is. How do you know if you are doing it right?*

Also, whilst it has no value of itself, it can be a useful step in learning to roll as it can get you used to the sweeping motion that you will use.

*you need someone who knows what they are doing to watch you and corrct you if necessary. Mmm, isn't that what instructors are for?

Posts: 284
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by PlymouthDamo » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:40 pm

Good points made already about whether there is any practical use sculling-for-support. The view I take is that it's fun to learn as many useless tricks as you can, providing it doesn't cause you any injury. In the case of sculling-for-support, I don't see much injury potential, certainly compared to something like a storm roll, which can easily result in a knackered shoulder, as I've discovered to my cost...

If you're still interested in doing it, then the tips which can help you easily support yourself with a scull are pretty much the same as those which would help you do the balance brace. (which is what those people floating on their backs are doing.) So one option might be to just learn to do the balance brace. It can be easy to learn - I just did it by falling over in the shallows and getting an experienced paddler to stand by and hold me up whilst showing me how to get into the right position. I did it on the first go without too much difficulty. (Recovering back to upright was a different matter...)

If you've got someone to show you, that's great. Alternatively, I absolutely recommend the 'This is the Roll' DVD by Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson.

Anyhoo, specific tips on how to balance brace:

1. For learning, a Greenland Paddle helps as it's so buoyant.
2. To start the balance brace, you have to fall in sideways. You can slow yourself down by first lying as far back as you can before gently sliding your body round to the side. If you do this right, you can enter the balance brace without your face ever going underwater.
3. The position requires you to lie perpendicular to the boat, face-up with both arms outstretched, the paddle flat on the water held in the middle by your forward hand and your shoulders flat on the water.
4. Usually, the aft shoulder lifts up and the forward shoulder drops down which causes your body to 'knife' through the water and sink. An effective way to keep the all-important flat position on the water is to put your aft hand under the boat and force that shoulder back down.
5. You have to drive up with the lower leg and arch your back to keep the boat as upright as you can get it. Don't lift your head up.
6. I find I also need to drop out of my seat onto the side of the boat (which is now the 'keel.') I often can't do it if I'm in a boat where the hip pads hold me in the seat.

Once you've cracked this, it's an easy progression to use a sculling motion for support.

Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: Bangor (Northern Ireland)
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by GregMiller » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:02 pm

I would tend to agree with PlymouthDamo that it's a good skill to have in your toolbox.

I was very grateful for side sculling recently when we went rock hopping and I got a bit too close to a sloping rock. A larger set came in and I got lifted up the face quite a bit. I capsized into the water away from the rock and temporarily side sculled so that the 'arse of the boat' could be rubbed by the rock rather than my head. It was nice to have that little bit of extra time that the side sculling gave just to let the boat ride back down again and then be able to recover and then draw stroke myself further away.
As said, not used often, but a good skill to have.

Re: Starting with the Balance brace
Definitely the way to go. Much easier to start with a good body position rather than have a 'knifeing' shoulder and relying on the paddle too much.

Have fun playing with this.


User avatar
Posts: 3350
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Berks, Hants, Essex
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by TechnoEngineer » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:02 pm

As Damo says, you need to keep the kayak as upright as possible by driving your (nearside) knee upwards. As soon as the kayak heels beyond its secondary stability point, it stops supporting your weight. You have to keep your shoulders parallel to the surface to avoid "knifing" it.

If your back is close to the cockpit coaming you will have difficulty with this because you'll have to flex your spine quite tremendously to keep the boat upright with your body leaning back and out to the side. Once your torso makes contact with the coaming, any further lean from your body is going to take the kayak with it.

One possibility is to raise the seat, so that your hips are higher relative to the cockpit coaming. You may also need to loosen or remove a backrest if it's getting in the way.
XL-Burn-3 / Monstar / Kodiak / My Videos

Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:19 pm

Re: Side Sculling Advice Please

Post by kayakbiker » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:58 am

Thanks everyone for the ideas and tips.
I guess the main reason i would like to be able to master the scull or balance brace is because if i get tired after practicing rolls and re-entries I sometimes blow my roll. Being able to scull/ balance brace as some have said would allow me to catch a quick breather before rolling up. I do appreciate your warnings about exposing my shoulders though so will reassess the best way to do this
Thanks again

Post Reply