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Tips and Techniques - The Stern Draw



The Stern Draw

The stern draw is a powerful stroke, but one of the most difficult to master. If you frequently get blown off a surf wave or lose a ferry angle, it is often because of a weak or non-existent stern draw.

To dial-in your stern draw, just follow these key points:

Since the stern draw is often used at the end of a forward stroke, connect them to create a smooth transition. (The static stern draw is used almost exclusively for surfing.)  

Stop the power of the forward stroke at your knee. As the paddle continues to move back, drop your top hand down to a mid-torso position. Both elbows should be slightly bent as your torso and paddle align to create “linkage.”  
At this point the paddle shaft should be across your body with the blade in the water at a 45-degree angle to the keel line.

Keeping your arms (and the linkage) in place, powerfully and quickly rotate your torso. This will drive your off-side shoulder toward the on-side gunnel and push the grip hand out over the water. It’s critical that the energy be delivered to your grip hand (and thus the paddle shaft) by the linkage of the arm, shoulder, and torso.

The stroke should end with your body fully rotated facing outward to your on-side with both hands over the gunnel. The shaft hand should be 6-8 inches behind the hip with the paddle blade up against the hull. This is followed by a quick recovery once the blade makes contact with the hull.  

The most common mistakes attempting a stern draw are:

Pushing or pulling the paddle with your arms. Pushing with the top hand while pulling with the bottom will not deliver anywhere near the power of a good torso rotation.

Starting the stroke with the paddle at a 90-degree angle to the keel line. This turns it into a sweep instead of a stern draw.

Ending the stroke with the shaft hand in front of or in line with the hip.

Failing to draw the blade all the way to the hull at the end of the stroke.

To practice the draw stroke:

A good way to practice this stroke is to find an easy ferry and let the boat fall off the line to your on-side. A correctly executed stern draw will quickly bring the bow back to center. If you only make it partway back to center and have to throw in a second draw, check out your linkage and try it again. Remember that the key to this stroke is to fully engage the torso muscles. Your arms alone can’t match the power of the torso—an all-arm stroke will rarely work. If you’re having trouble with this concept, review the tip on “linkage.”

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