Extended paddle position??

I have a rookie question here. I have been watching the DVD Beyond the Cockpit and have a small question. They keep refering to the extended paddle position. The only problem is that in the video Derek has a feathered paddle. Does having an unfeathered paddle change the effectiveness. It seems I will have to change the grip on the paddle blade. Any comments would be a big help.

It still works fine with no feather
I use a no feather paddle surfing, and a feathered paddle for touring. Not sure if it “changes the effectiveness” it changes the way it feels as you set up. The important thing is to use the hand on the paddle blade to articulate the blade angle on the sweeping blade. I hold the shaft in my sweeping hand fairly loose. I got taught to keep the hand on the blade close to my chest and really concentrate on rotating the upper body while exagerrating the sweeping arc of the paddle planing on the surface and driving the knee, most of the force comes from extending your body from the boat and rolling the boat with your knee. I’m not an expert roller but the extended paddle roll works pretty much every time for me with any of my paddles.

Use a Greenland paddle (GP)
Follow the experts in using extended paddle positions, the Inuit, and use a greenland paddle. It’s not feathered and doesn’t need to be.


Why use an extended paddle? I understand that it has MUCH more leverage and is more effective for rolling, bracing, turning, etc. But if I capsize unintentionally, am I really going to get into the extended paddle position underwater? Maybe you would, but I don’t see it happening. I would think you would want to just roll up as quickly as possible with you hands in a regular paddling position.

This goes double for braces. If I feel like I am on the verge of capsizing and I need to quickly brace, I don’t think I am going to have the time or the mental agility to go to the extended paddle position.

If I need to turn and can’t do it without going to an extended paddle position I probably need better form or a different boat. Plus, it just seems to make turning too deliberate switching over to the EP position.

It seems to me that this positon is great for doing cool stuff / looking cool doing it and I guess that it is part of the required rolls etc. for Greenland Style paddling, and probably great for learning how to do different techniques, but it just seems too slow and deliberate to me for practical paddling.

I am not trying to be a wise guy here. Please enlighten me on this subject if I am off-base. These questions have been in my head for a long time.



You are off base
For rolling certain kinds of waveskis, sit-on-tops, and surf kayaks, its the most effective roll.

In a WW boat
I agree, an extended paddle doesn’t make much sense with those short paddles and all, but with the typical touring paddle, the extension makes a lot of difference, especially for us older, weaker paddlers.

Although it is time-
consuming to extend and orient the paddle underwater, I think for many people the extreme solidity of the resulting roll is worth the trouble. With an extended paddle, they can know they will come up, and be less likely to re-capsize again immediately.

Imagine on a calm day, a faraway freighter sending a surprise wall of 8 foot waves your way. Roll up, get capsized by the next wave and again by the next one–at that point, a solid extended paddle roll might be very useful.

Even though I can do almost all the Greenland rolls, I still practice the extended paddle rolls, just so the feeling is completely there if/when the emergency situation calls for it. From a Greenland-style point of view, I think it’s nice to work on developing a very smooth connection between all the rolls. I like to move smoothly from balance bracing to a roll, to another, to another, changing hand position, type of roll (layback/high brace versus forward-tucked/low brace), letting go with one hand and rolling with the other hand, etc. etc. All of this practice results in equanimity in an unintentional capsize or emergency situation.

I do agree with you that relying on this type of roll has a significant disadvantage of requiring moving your hands. I think the moment someone has learned an extended paddle roll s/he should start shortening the amount of extension until able to roll with normal hand position (or even less than normal hand position, so as to be able to roll with the broken half of a paddle, for example).


Semi Extended (Euro Paddle)…

– Last Updated: Apr-27-05 6:14 AM EST –

sometimes, towards the end of a long surf session, I can feel myself tiring and my hip snap becoming less "snappy." In this case, I feel it's much better for me to shift down the shaft to where my inboard hand touches the blade (but not shift to gripping the blade as in a full extended paddle) to get that extra lift. It's far better that I take the time to do it right, come back up and get a breath. If I blow one or two rolls and can't get up before the next wave hits, then I would have to hold my breath that much longer as the next wave catches me and takes me along for a ride. When this happens, I have to paddle that much more to get back out through the break zone after I roll up.

The "extended paddle" roll is one more technique in the repetoire that may save your bacon. I think it's funny when folks diminish it as some sort of "beginner" technique. Makes me think the person is consumed with some sort of dogma, or is really a novice. The fact is if you're in challenging conditions, whatever the heck gets you back up from a capsize is good. Swimming is bad. And, if you swim enough, you should not be paddling in those conditions until you further develop or expand your range of self recovery techniques. I have said this before, I'd much paddle in conditions with someone who has 90% success rate with an extended paddle roll than someone with 50/50 conventional grip roll.


It’s kinda like "low gear"
I switch into it when I need that extra bit of torque. Not a habitual thing, but when you need it, it’s certainly nice to have.

Extension/retraction is smooth and about quick as leaning or edging for me (with GP) - but not saying I’m good at it or 100% reflexive.

Upright or inverted - with any paddle - I find use for extension. GP is just a bit better because it’s designed for this and there is no wide sharp edged blade at some odd angle to deal with (not saying that’s hard either - just that the GP’s more streamlined).

Extension is not just a rolling or bracing thing either. It’s useful at many times for many things. Can be applied to just about any stroke (except I don’t think I’d bother using a Greenland sliding stroke with a non-GP).

With my GP it’s almost automatic and I don’t really even think about it much. I just do it as needed. I can roll/brace extended or normal grip - so it’s not something I do because the narrow blade lacks power either.

For me it’s about fully using the paddle to best advantage in any given situation.

(Special thanks to Peter K for inspiring a slight post revision).

My take
>I would think you would want to just roll up as quickly as possible with you hands in a regular paddling position. <

Classic answer to the situation: you don’t want to rush the roll! You want to calm down, get into proper setup position (and if need be, switch to extended paddle) before you attempt a half-hearted roll. A well executed roll that brings you right up on the first try, is much better than a rushed one that failed.

This goes double for braces. If I feel like I am on the verge of capsizing and I need to quickly brace, I don’t think I am going to have the time or the mental agility to go to the extended paddle position.<

Not mental agility, but praticed reflex. Either you pratice extended brace so it become automatic, or you don’t use it in condition. Trying to think at the verge of capsizing doesn’t work. You got that part right.

Why extend with a euro? My reasons.
It can help with your roll. Especially when learning, or when you are not in breaking stuff and you must get up. An extended sweep might help you turn your boat in conditions where a regular sweep cannot (high winds). No matter how good you are you may find a day when the winds are so nasty you cannot turn your boat fast enough. This technique gives you better odds.

So learn extended techniques, try to do without them, but keep those arrows in your quiver. Practice occasionally so that they are sharp.

It’s insurance
so if your first roll attempt fails for whatever reason and you’re running out of air,just slow down a little and extend it out a bit and you’re coming up for sure.

I practise non extended a lot lately,it helps sharpen my techniques without relying on the extended paddle advantage and is one less thing to think about.I don’t multitask so well when hanging upside down in cold water.



from Derek
Yes, you need a paddle feathered to 90 degrees so you know exactly the placement angle of the outer blade. When the sport came over to the U.S. in the 70’s, it did not come across the pond with instructors to tell you how to hold a 90 degree paddle. Everyone got tenosynovitis trying to master the technique so the manufacturers quickly responded by reducing the feather angle, in some cases to almost zero.

You need a 90 degree feather to give you the correct presentation angle for the most efficient catch ‘during the forward touring paddling stroke’. I hope this helps you.

Regards, Derek Hutchinson


– Last Updated: May-02-05 5:03 PM EST –

okay....i am going to guess jane that that was sarcasm?

derek is a huge proponent of....

his boats
his paddles
90 degree feather
extended strokes

that being said, there's nothing wrong with any of that....and while the man has done some impressive things, those are his opinions that need to be measured against your own needs and experiences. hell, he's such an engaging guy and fantastic speaker that it'd eb easy to take what he says as almost gospel. he really is something.

if you extend the paddle you have huge leverage and need no hip snap to roll...it isn't as fast as a combat roll / c to c but boy howdy, don't it work? it doesn't take all that much time to set up.

the 90 degree feather thing...i used a 90 degree toksook for years....it's a great blade, no flutter and finds the surface but sheesh ain't it heavy? and that feather? it really was quite a bit and i found a more standard feather was fine....now there are just lendals in the quiver and those work just fine thanks.

the extended paddle roll with a standard feather is no biggie....you know where the hell the blade angle is at on the water surface after a while and certainly you can feel it in your hands as you start...

one of the classes the DCH teaches is al about getting out from over the center of the cockpit anc feeling the boat move and understanding that you aren't "bound" to wobble right over the center....for that, the extended paddle is a great teaching tool too.

why not use extended? it isn't as "sexy" as other rolls but the important part is to get to where the air is and breathe...not so much on sexy. better yet, learn and practice a couple of rolls....never know what you're going to need.

That’s Why I Don’t Listen To
DH. I don’t doubt his experience. But, I don’t doubt my own either.


(who uses paddles which offset from 0-60 degrees.)

With all due respect to Mr. Hutchinson
You don’t need a 90 degree feather to properly orientate your blade in the extended position. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing, and through practice you can learn to orient to any degree of feather you can imagine.

90 Degree Feather?
Then there’s the matter of wanting to just paddle and have fun without investing half a lifetime in mastering a single stroke so that you don’t hurt your joints… I am sure the 90 degree feather is quite helpful in a lot of cases but if that causes damage without perfection and my usual 60 to 75 degree angle (adjustable) leaves hands healthy to do other things, seems the leeser angle wins.

I hadn’t seen the butt first paddle float idea - will have to try it one of these coming weeks to see if it works for someone my size and gender.

Thanks alot
Thank you very much for the replies. It seems I need to get out into the water and play around to see how things feel for me.

Informed information
Derek Hutchinson’s advice is very informed and comes from much experience. I think his “Beyond the Cockpit” DVD is fabulous.

I, however, find that I am better off with a shorter paddle than he recommends and less feather (I’m using 225 length with 45 feather these days.)