It is important to know how to do an emergency stop to avoid collision. For example, in a rescue situation you will need to be able to stop effectively and promptly when approaching someone who has capsized. 




  • Maintain normal hand hold on the paddle.
  • Keep your elbows low and flexed.
  • Start each stroke with the back of the blade in the water just behind your hip.
  • Use a sequence of short reverse strokes on alternate sides. 
  • The first 2 strokes need to be shallow to slow the momentum of the kayak.
  • Then use deeper reverse strokes with the full blade to stop the kayak.
  • Exit the water when your hands are mid-way between your hip and your knee. 
  • The kayak should come to a stop within its own boat-length and within around 4 strokes in normal conditions.
  • Being propelled on a wave is a different matter.


Tips and safety

  • This stroke can lead you to capsize if you put the blade into the water too deeply in the first 2 strokes. 
  • Maintain a neutral wrist position with each stroke.

Practice drills 

  • Find a fixed object in the water, such as an empty mooring buoy, and test the distance it takes you to stop. 
  • Practice stopping in varying conditions, such as in wind-waves, beam and quartering seas.