Background first: self taught (read- bad habits) multi- dimensional novice.

After reading articles by Barton and Brent Reitz I am stymied by the practice of using the foot pegs for pushing off.

OK- I am talking about when the rudder is deployed. I have a touring CD Storm. When I paddle my touring SOT with fixed foot pegs, I CAN see what the benefit is to pushing off, as per the experts. Lots of rotation! My surf Strike has foot straps that really allows for good torso rotation.

On the Storm, I seem to push hard on the thigh pads. How does one drive with the legs when using a rudder?

Thanks in advance for all who offer up advice!


Not that much pressure on feet
When paddling with rudder down, you can put more pressure on the stroke side foot without letting pressure off the offside foot. The pressure you put on your feet is not that great. Your butt should be relatively still in the seat, you rotate at the waist, just above the pelvis, and put slightly more pressure on the stroke side foot. It takes a bit of practice and finesse.

Or you can get the sissy smart track system :wink:

If you want to try SmartTrack
I have a brand new set of their footbraces with aluminum rails with the toe pilots and wires that you connect to your existing rudder. I’ll never use them, so email me and you can have them for half the new price. The system works OK if you have to use a rudder.

I had Smart Track on my Squall
It really handled the issue, providing a fixed point. And being able to easily reset the lengths while on the water makes a big diff in comfort in a long paddle. The only problem I found with the Smart Track system, at least the year of it that I had, was that I’d occassionally blow a footpeg out of its spot on the rail when rolling. But it never happened early enough that I lost what would have been a good roll, and the comfort I got the rest of the time was worth the minor inconvenience.

I didn’t always find the toe pad to be the easiest thing to manage, but that was mostly because I have women’s size 6.5-7 feet which are fairly small for the assumpions of that system. But I never used the rudder in the Squall anyway. Granted the Storm is a little more manuverable for its size than the Squall, but the Storm still tracks wonderfully. From having had one of these Solstice series boats, I’d say that over time you should find that the rudder will become pretty vestegial. So the reach for the toe pad is no big deal.

You break the rudder cable…

– Last Updated: Sep-25-05 1:12 PM EST – I did in the past two white water races that I took my tupperware yak in.
I kid you not! _ Naturally I had the rudder up (not deployed), but I was pushing off so hard on the pedals that in both races I broke the cable at the attachment point on the rudder.
I now keep a supply of crimp type electrical terminals in my paddling goodie box that I never leave home without.

That is the beauty of the Sealine fixed foot pegs and rudder.
In yesterday's race with every stroke I was pushing off.


Jam up and down…
It sounds like you already found the solution. Or at least, that’s the one I found when I paddled a CD Squall (smaller sibling of the Storm). I had to wedge my legs so that the heels were pushed down on the floor while the knees and thighs were pushed up against the thigh braces. Pushing against the footpegs was iffy; even with the rudder UP, the keeper slot was not secure enough to prevent the rudder from popping out under a hard effort.*

Even though this solution worked OK, after I built a rudder-free, skeg-free wood kayak and later bought a skegged kayak, I so much prefer the solid footpegs that I do not intend to buy a ruddered kayak again.

I also found that with footpegs I can trust (and good outfitting generally), edging takes much less effort, is more progressive, and has become instinctive when turning. I am not relying 100% on up-and-down wedging to keep contact with the kayak–I can count on the footpegs to keep my legs bent at the right angle.

This also means that for straight-ahead paddling I don’t have to treat the footpegs as if there are eggs behind them. And that means more power is now available from my legs, which have decades of cycling and hiking experience. You don’t have to race to appreciate that.

*This made for a few unpleasant surprises when rolling with the rudder initially up. Sometimes the rudder popping out occurred in a way that I still rolled back up, but at least a couple of times the footpegs slid so far forward that I lost leg contact with the thigh braces (in fact, I slid forward and also lost contact with the backband…practically ended up lying down inside the kayak)

The answer to your question about rudder
peddals is: when you use your rudder, it isn’t that you only push on the side you’re moving toward. You push on both peddals at the same time which gives you more control over moving the pedals up and back. You just push harder on the one side, while keeping just a bit of tension on the other. When you use the rudder, you can pump your feet at the same time because the pumping of the legs is mostly isometric (doesn’t really involve moving the leg so much as moving the muscles inside the leg) anyway. If you have never paddled a boat with a deployed rudder try it and just concentrate on “pumping” your legs. It really isn’t hard to do that and steer.