Help. Novice question about rigging ama & balance...

Just had my canoe out for the thrid time and I did not tip over but I do notice I am a bit sore on my left hip. I think the fear of tipping over causes my to ride my weight to the left on the ama as evidenced by the sore left hip. I dont really have a sense of the balance seems very stable when the ama is near the water or an inch or two above and then past that point it dumps over fast. On my canoe (oc fusion) the front of the ama snaps in but the back of the ama is adjustable. When I went for my first ride it was suggested that I push the back rod in 3-4 inches, and there is quite a bit more room to raise the ama by pushing in the rod. I don't know if as I progress I want to slowly get the ama higher (like raising a training wheel on a bike) so I am not putting my weight on the ama and am rather balancing the boat somewhat with the ama a bit higher. I dont know what drills to go about learning how to balance the boat (I dont have access to a surf ski to learn) I read that when you are paddling on the right you should get your ama to lift a bit and skim.

Any advice here greatly appreciated, I dont want to lean in on the ama and slow myself down even more, but I am still very novice.

Thank you!

Submitted by Shawn Michael on Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:33am

Shawn, that's pretty common to most OC paddlers in certain conditions, even the top guns.

I posted this on another forum ....


Here's a little gem from AL Ching, Danny Ching's dad.

When Danny returned from the developmental squad of the USA Olympic Kayak team, he had this to say to his dad .. He said, “My heart rate was soaring during workouts at first, but I noticed it has dropped lately and I’m doing a little better at the kayak stroke.” He noticed that, he has a slight asymmetrical stroke, because of a habit of leaning away from the ama on the OC1 and is working to correct that.

Leaning away from the ama on the OC1 ????/ ... What do most of us do??? .... Yep lean on the Ama.

You wanna go faster and cure numb ass at the same time .... practice paddling AmaLight (slight lean right) in flat water, then take it to the bumps.


Cheers Rambo

#1 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:45am

That`s right , practice sitting in the middle of the boat and leaning a little to the right in flat conditions. Always be ready on the right side with a low brace at the end of the stroke just in case the ama comes up. Low brace is done usually at the end of your stroke with elbow up , palm down position.

With time in the boat you will begin to get comfortable and huli a lot less often.

I Paddle an OC boat too and because they have thumb screws which push against a plate inside the ama reciever port, they are very adjustable. If it`s flat , I race my boat very ama light, the boat leans a little to the right with my 175 lbs in it. In rough conditions I rig the boat to sit level.

Once you find the ama position / positions you are comfortable with, mark them on the ama .

If you can get to a place where you can practice surfing your canoe, a good thing to practice is flying the ama while maintaining a low brace on the right. With practice you will find that your low brace can be very light on the water.

#2 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:17am

Shawn I dunno if my technique has any validity, but I'm also in first year OC1 and learning much by trial/error (although I do have lots of experience on water/boats & other activities to steal from), and of course lots of stupid questions to those willing to listen and respond (saints they are to listen without shooing me away annoyed at my persistence)

Here's where I started with new OC1:

Tools required: 2-foot level, tape measure, colored electrical tape (2-3 different colors). light fishing line, grease pencil, notebook/pen, 80, 120, 220-grit sandpaper and 8-10" length of 2x4 wood block.

  1. Find quiet flat grassy piece of land and set up boat with iako's set all the way flush into hull (don't worry now about rear ama-to-iako depth).
  2. find centerline of hull deck: tie bowline in fishing line and hook under nut of steering rudder, stretch line up past front iako and tape so that line follows imaginary centerline of boat. Eye it from rear to ensure it's in center and tape down at a few spots to ensure it is straight on centerline from rudder to near bow where it ends.
  3. Mark center of iako at ama junction (this is generally centerline of ama) with tape.
  4. Measure centerline of hull to center of front and left iaku, record results (measure carefully to be accurate).
  5. Front and rear measurements should be identical to have parallel ama (ie: no toe-in or toe-out). If large difference you may have to sand/cut longer iaku to matching length (but first consult others here as I am new at this and don't want to be responsible for buggering up your nice new boat)
  6. Mark (with thin colored tape) on the iaku flush where it meets hull and make it visible to you while paddling. This is good reference if you want to play with toe-in/out and also lets you know while underway that your iakus are secure in hull.
  7. Bring boat to very calm water at beach. bring normal padding items (paddle, water, etc...) and dress as if you were going out for regular workout/rec-padle. Bring the 2' level along.
  8. Sit in boat with all gear and lay the level across cockpit (hopefully there are gunnels on your boat to lay level on...if not then this technique won't likely help you.
  9. Play with rear-iaku-to-ama adjustment until level is showing horizontal when you are sitting straight up and comfortable in your boat with paddle in hand. Mark that adjustment on iaku with tape.
  10. Now you know boats center of balance with your weight (will of course change with your combined weight of you & equipment). Maybe mark a couple inches higher (lower too?) on rear-iaku with different color tape for reference.
  11. Go paddle, adjust for individual comfort. Concentrate on right-brace reactions as FR states.

For me, I try and keep the boat balanced to center and focus on my own balance. For rough conditions I'll drop iako down into ama a couple inches but my goal is to first paddle with balanced boat and ultimately paddle with even lighter ama (guess this is where D.Ching paddles as he's used to leaning right...)

Please, all those with experience let me know if I am way off and giving bad advice.


#3 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:23am

I'd say trial and error is the right approach.

After some time the topic loses some of it's importance and you will probalble rig your ama by 'feel'.

#4 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:11am

Sit on one of those large exercise balls with your legs together as in your cockpit. Don't touch the floor with your feet. It will do wonders for your balance and you will know which muscles to train. It'll be the sore ones.

#5 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:24am

Thanks for taking the time to post, very helpful...figures I had it backward.....I think when I am no leaning into the ama so much I will stop going so slow.

Cool to see the flying the ama trick, like a wheelie...guess if you can do that you have the balance down

#6 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:13pm

its funny when your it tip top and going super fast and not thinking about it for moments it pops up

#7 Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:11pm

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