The lunar orbit is a freestyle trick that you can do both on whitewater and flatwater, but while it is an advanced trick on whitewater, on flatwater it is considerably easier and can be learnt alongside the cartwheel, tailey and bow stall. In this post I will only be focussing on the technique involved in the flatwater move, however most of the basic skills are transferable. If you cannot double pump then I would suggest reading this post first (https://patrickyak.blog/2020/05/08/how-to-double-pump/) and this one will help as well (https://patrickyak.blog/2020/03/11/look-where-you-want-to-go/). The whitewater lunar orbit is officially defined as a 180°+ horizontal angle rotation starting in a front surf during which the boat reaches a vertical angle of 30°+ flowing into a back loop/at least one cartwheel end; for the purposes of the flatwater lunar orbit we can ignore the part of the definition which mentions the front surf and back loop but the rest of the move can be split into 4 sections which I will explain below…
The first part of the move is the run up and intiation of the turn (or horizontal angle rotation if you’re going to be pedantic). I’m going to explain the movement assuming you’re doing the trick to the right, if you’re a lefty then do the same thing but in the opposite direction/on the opposite side. You want to paddle in a straight line with enough speed to help your tailey, but not so fast that you capsize when you drop your edge – walking speed will suffice. Next, do a powerful sweep stroke on your left to swing the boat right. As you do this you should crunch to the front-right while doing a small back stroke on the same side to bring the boat around 90°. While this is probably the easiest part of the move, it is also the most complicated so make sure to practise it a few times before attempting any other part of the trick.
The next step is the pry motion, however if you use your body weight and edges correctly the paddle should barely have to do any work. Mentally split the boat into quarters. You’re facing right by 90°, crunched towards the front-right quarter and having just completed a small back stroke. You now want to pop the bow out of the water in one smooth motion. To achieve this you must switch your weight from the front-right quarter to the front-left quarter and then to the back-left quarter (like during a lean clean) which will cause the bow to rise and the stern to slice under the water. When combined with a powerful pry stroke on the right, this movement will bring the bow above the 30° angle needed.
Your body weight is on the back-left quarter of the boat, you’re using your pry stroke to slice the stern under the water and the bow is beginning to rise. You don’t want your right paddle blade to get caught in the water and halt your rotation so you need to feather it out of the water and do a little push stroke on the left-hand side to carry momentum. At this point you should be looking ahead of the rotation and drawing your right knee in towards your chest, this will ensure the trick finishes straight and that you bring the boat underneath your body for the cartwheel end. If you push your right knee away from you (which feels natural), your weight won’t be over the boat and your will fall on your face! Now that your right knee is pulled in, your weight is over the boat and you’ve carried momentum, you need to get your right paddle blade behind your hips so that you can push on it to slam the bow under the water.
The final step is essentially just the last half of a double pump, in fact it’s much easier than a double pump because your bow will be slamming into the water from a much greater height, and with much more speed than normal. You’ve got your body weight over the boat, your right knee is tucked in and your right paddle blade is behind your hips – all you need to do is stay leaning forwards, push down with your right hand and look over your right-hand shoulder. The stern will go vertical and then to help it flatten off once the cartwheel end is finished you just need a firm back stroke on your left-hand side. That’s it – you’ve just done a lunar orbit – congratulations!
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