TRAINING TIPS: Steering a Dongola

The key to steering a dongola is setting things up so that you can do as little work as possible in terms of steering and can concentrate on paddling.

Ideally you want a completely even crew paddling on the left and the right with the most power towards the back of the boat. You should position your crew as far back and as close together as possible without them hitting each other in the head with the paddles.

As a steerer you should sit at the back of the boat on top of the stern. Depending on the length of your legs you may choose to open the hatch and wedge yourself in the gap.

Once you have your crew set up you are ready to go and you then need to master two key strokes:

1. To turn the boat in the direction you are paddling (to the right if you paddle on the left) you simply place the paddle in the water out wide and as you pull through the water you bring it back towards the boat and along the side in a diagonal motion.

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2. To turn the boat in the opposite direction (to the left if you paddle on the left) you place the paddle in the water parallel to the boat and as you pull along you move your paddle out in the water away from the boat in the shape of a J. This is the aptly named ‘J’ stroke.

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The final key tip to remember is that it is best to steer in time with the rest of your crew. Ideally any steering stroke should be a small correction as part of your continuous paddling – little and often is far better then trying to do big correction strokes. Keep an eye on the horizon too, to know which way is straight and paddle as hard as you can to the finish line!