Project WwSUP: The S-Turn
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
Two Eddylines, Two Skills, One Fluid Movement
The S-Turn is a maneuver that links two eddyline-crossing maneuvers for the purpose of moving laterally across the river:
The Peel Out – for entering the downstream current from an eddy
The Eddy Turn – for entering an eddy from the downstream current
S-Turns come in two flavors:
The Downstream S-Turn is used to cross a mid-stream eddy and begins with an Eddy Turn that links directly into a Peel Out
The Upstream S-Turn is used to cross current … or hop … from one eddy to another and begins with a Peel Out that links directly into an Eddy Turn.
The fundamentals of S-Turns for whitewater SUP were shaped through decades of development by whitewater canoeists; acceleration, momentum, angle, lean, etc. But where whitewater canoeists are connected to their craft from the hips down whitewater paddleboarders are free to move around the board. A ww-canoeist need only master on-side and off-side eddy-turns and peel-outs. That’s 4 variations. A whitewater paddleboarder has access to infinitely more. In addition to on-side/off-side we have more decisions; are we turning toward our heel-side or toe-side? And where are we on the board? Do we want a tail-pivot, flat-turn, a nose pivot, or something in between? I once used an off-side, toe-side, nose-pivot to catch this amazing little eddy tucked under a sheer cliff on the New River at Foster Falls in Virginia. I nailed it that day but it’s still a dicey move for me.
Begin your journey across the eddylines with toe-side flat turns from a more or less neutral position.
The following video tutorial combines a toe-side, on-side Peel-Out weighted toward the tail of the board (the most common Peel-Out in my personal repertoire) with a heel-side, off-side, flat Eddy-Turn useful mainly for short hops over narrow downstream currents. For a little more detail on WSUP eddy-turns check out Project WWSUP: Tail Pivot Eddy Turn.
Just for fun, here’s another S-Turn executed on the high-speed outflows from the turbines of the Pinnacles Hydro Plant on the Dan River in Kibler Valley, VA.
Need more direct instruction, coaching, feedback? Book me through Mountain River Guides on the Nolichucky and French Broad Rivers near Asheville, NC.