I’m curious where you who paddle sea/touring kayaks (SINKs) position your legs while doing the forward stroke.
My paddling books and many of the advice columns here state the feet, knees, thighs and hips should always be in contact with the hull “whether you’re going forward, backward, turning, sideways etc.” Sit like a frog.
I’ve been experimenting this summer by not doing the frog leg thing with my knees and thighs under the braces. Instead I’ve been keeping my knees close to each other as this allows my hips to rotate more freely, which gives me better torso rotation and, I think, a more effective forward stroke. My knees brush the underside of the thigh brace with each stroke and I can quickly drop both legs if I need that contact with the hull. This has worked for me in waves, (up to two feet) chop, and boat wakes.
During a recent class I was told by the instructor not to do this. No explanation was given and I didn’t have the confidence to ask for reasons. Yes, it makes sense to keep good knee/thigh contact if paddling in challenging conditions or for strokes that need a lot of edge, but those conditions didn’t exist during that class. We were doing forward strokes in pretty flat conditions.
While searching for articles on leg position in the forward stroke, I came across this article: https://www.rapidmedia.com/adventurekayak/categories/skills/545-paddle-forward-faster-kayak-technique
What caught my eye was this quote from the peer review section:
“Doug stresses relaxed knees/thighs to allow power transfer. If you rotate left, your right knee bends to give that hip room to move forward. This creates a strong position to drive the unwinding of the body with your leg. If your legs are jammed into the thigh braces, you can’t use them for rotation. Don’t worry about staying upright without being wedged into the thigh braces—except for recovery situations or supporting an extreme edge, balance comes from the core and hips, not the knees. » Ginni Callahan, ACA level 5 instructor and BCU level 4 coach, Cathlamet, WA”
I was glad to read those comments and am curious what the experienced paddlers here do.