3 to a Canoe-Adventure Race advice needd

I’m entered in the Savannah River/Augusta Canal Adventure race next weekend in a team of three and was hoping to get some advice for the best technique for three people racing in a canoe. I’m largely a solo paddler and don’t have any racing experience at all.

There are three sized guys, all trim but S,M and Tall!

I’m the medium and have the most paddling experience.

  • How should we be arranged in the boat? Strongest paddler in the Stern, Tall in the middle?

  • what kind of basic communications are involved when paddling in tandem or trio?

  • what kind of paddling strokes and techniques should we use.

    Anyone here involved in Adventure racing … gonna do this one?

    All suggestions welcome!

I can only speak for tandem, so you
so I will second guess for the third paddler.

the strongest paddler is supposed to be in the bow theoratically, although it works out much better for my wife and I with me in the stern.

In tandem both paddlers should stay in sync and one paddler calls the “hut” which is when you switch sides.

I would suggest (just my take) that the weakest paddler of the three be in the middle and be paddling on the same side as the second weakest paddler.

Whoever calls the hut, should call it about every sixth stroke or as soon as they see the canoe starting to veer off to one side.

There are many ways to turn, and if it is just a gradual turn, with you all paddling on the same side will turn the boat the opposite direction.

If it is a sharper turn, with you all still on the same side do sweeps.

If it is a very sharp turn, the bow paddler should do either a draw on the side you want to turn to or a post (which is planting the paddle on that side and holding it like a rudder) while the other two paddlers paddle on the opposite side of the turn.

If there are lots of turns, cut all the tangents, (in other words go in as straight a line as possible).

As you are coming around a bend keep your eyes in front so that you stay in the current, and don’t get caught in the eddys, (it will be like putting on the brakes).

Keep out of shallow (suck) water. That will slow you down tremendously.

There are a lot more little tricks and strokes, but you can’t learn them overnight.

Good luck,

Wish we were doing it too, but we will be racing our kayaks this weekend.



I agree with JackL
I have been in a war canoe with 6 paddlers and Jack is right on th eMOney. Th only thing I can add is that the Bow person needs to be your primary turning fulcrum. He needs alot of a muscles or eaier yet a good Cross bow rudder. I have found that the cross bow is the easiest to use for a weaker , or tired Bowperson

Thank you for the tips.
We’re going for one practice paddle but I’m guessing it will be largely learning as we go.

Thank again as always.

3 paddlers
the olny way our c4 got through browns tract was for the stern paddler to rudder. very tight turns.try bow paddler and stern paddler on the same side middle paddler try on each side to see which works best.c 4 did 1 & 3 2& 4 worked well

bow paddler wastes a lot of energy ruddering and will tire. do sides with stern rudder. yes i know you should not rudder but it saves energy

see ya

3 in a boat
I have done a few races with three in a boat. We have always used kayak paddles paddling in sync. Also, if the canoe is provided, you should bring some kind of seat for the middle paddler, either home-made or purchased.

We have had good luck with the strongest paddler in the stern, and the team navigator in the bow.

C-3 positions
This is a trip tested topic for me, but there are several bits of data missing for me to give you more specific advice.

It would be great to know what canoes they are going to provide you.

It would be great to know more about the river your race is on.

Without those two bits, here goes:

You have the most paddling skill, so you paddle stern. You need to be able to watch the boat and your companions.

The tallest paddler goes in the middle. He will be paddling from the widest seat with the longest reach to the water. His long arms are needed in the middle. Secondly he is probably the heaviest and you want to keep the mass centered as much as possible and the ends light for any waves or drops.

The small guy paddles bow. He gets the narrowest position if this is not a boat trimmed for whitewater. The ‘normal’ bow seat in a true C-3 will be front far enough to make footroom tight, his smaller feet will fit better. The narrow bow position will make his reach to the water easier and his lighter weight will help keep the bow light. Not out of trim hopefully, but with less weight near the bow, allowing the bow to rise easier over waves.

Where you place the middle guy may be dictated by a fixed seat position. Otherwise position him to trim the boat with you and bow paddler in your best positions.

Who paddles on which side will be dictated by relative paddling power and the water conditions. Most times i have the two forward paddlers on the same side and opposite of the stern paddler. You will need to try this and alternating sides from bow to stern to see which works best for your team.

I don’t like to rudder in the stern, it slows the boat a lot and i only rudder if strong sweep strokes and having the center paddler on the outside do not bring the boat around fast enough. Most times the bow paddler pulls the bow in the direction we need to go with a strong draw or sets a cross bow rudder to get the bow moving sideways. The other mentioned methods will work and may be the best choice, again depending on the boat you are using, the water, and the paddling strengths of your crew.

If your bow paddler is the smallest and weakest paddler, it would be best for you and the middle paddler keep moving the boat forward and the bow paddler to do any needed ruddering. Try to keep your strongest paddlers maintaining the boat speed.

As far as communication, you will need to work out your commands ahead of time to keep them brief and easy to hear above the river and race noise.

Good luck,