Great Forward Stroke Video Link - Zsolt

If you are the kind of sea kayaker that endeavors to get the most speed and distance out of your effort then you will appreciate this video of Bay area paddler Zsolt working a Huki surfski. Click on link below.

Many paddlers claim to have good torso rotation. Most don’t. Check out this guy to see what good technique actually looks like. Note how little his arms pull. Arms are just linkage between the engine (Torso) and the paddle. Note how close the stroke starts to the boat and how far outboard the paddle exits the water as the blade takes its natural path outward while the torso rotates. Note how much stability this technique provides. The stability comes through the paddle, not the boat. You can see the boat rolling around loosely under him while his upper body is balanced and steady.

The huge speed and distance advantages this technique provides is much more accessible than most paddlers believe. More paddlers, if you have the right attitude, should buy a performance sea kayak with a rudder and learn to use a wing paddle. There is no reason for a beginner to not start with equipment like this if their goal is to be fast and efficient. There is no reason to learn the bad habits most “experts” teach with more traditional equipment most shops sell.

Kayaks like the QCC600, QCC700 and The Epic line are perfect sea kayaks for learning the technique shown in the video. Get one with a rudder. Get a wing paddle. In no time you will be ready for a surfski if you choose to go to that level. Even if you stay in the performance sea kayak you will soon be doing easy 15 - 20 mile paddles in one afternoon, even if you are just a weekend warrior. Technique and equipment trumps fitness big time in sea kayaks.

In the name of safety I still recommend a course that teaches self rescue techniques. The instructor may scoff at your equipment (this happenned to me) but the boy scout type can teach you a thing or two that could save your life. Learn this stuff, move on and don’t look back.

envyabull, great link.
Nice video, thanks.

Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly, the paddler–esp wing paddler–on a surfski must use proper technique for forward stroek, by definition. The torso rotation is accentuated by his wetsuit, which highlights Zolts lats. I also concur that most paddlers profess torso rotation, and so few do it. I note, and do this as best i can personally, the real lack of elbow movement (the only elbow movement at all, frnakly, is on the recovery arm, and even that is extremely slight).

As some instructor say, pretend you have a beachball on your chest. As one said recently, imagine you are paddling with a small child sitting on your lap. That type of elbow and arm position is the goal.

Nice vid, thanks for linking it. I will watch it again. I own, my the way, a Prijon Barracuda which, like the boats you mention, begs for this forward stroke.

I’ve see him in action … makes the
boat look like a toy with all the power.

So Envyabull, got your ski on order ?

Good Vs Bad Form
He has a good form maybe due to his K1 background. I think it is important to see both good as well as bad form to understand what to improve. Check the following video and compare the different strokes between racers, sea kayakers, and recreational paddlers:

Hi Patrick - No Ski Yet
Hi Patrick,

Hope you are getting more settled in Hawaii. I am envious. I may want some gas pedals soon. Let me know when you are caught up with things.

I’ve got a Huki S1R in my sites, but probably need to fly out to CA to get measured for the correct cockpit size. Jude did not seem confident with any measuring method other than sitting in one.

Water is still in the low 40s here!! We had a late cold spell and not much sun this spring. Probably won’t begin paddling regularly until mid-May with peak conditioning around early August. Then tapering down through September and putting it away for the winter. This seasonality keeps paddling fresh and exciting every year.


Another video
This has been posted here before, but it’s a great video to study, IMHO. You can see the body dynamics very clearly.

Particularly note the hip action – how far he winds up his hips at the back of the stroke. That’s something you can’t see very well when then paddler’s in a real kayak. If I understand that correctly, it should feel like your hips are momentarily locking in, at their maximum windup. If you aren’t, then you aren’t really doing full rotation.


These are all superb vids you’re linking


– Last Updated: Apr-20-07 10:33 AM EST –

His commentary at the beginning is about enough to make me put away my flatwater boats for awhile.

agree and disagree
I agree with envyabull except for the need for a rudder and wing paddle.

Good technique as displayed here is possible and desireable in most straight running kayaks. Albeit with some modification to kayak or technique.

We need to get the “boy scouts” up to speed with this not start a “scoffing” war.

Awesome stroke…
but he didn’t turn his head enough to detect shipping. Bad, bad on SF bay. I like his attitude, too. Less crowing than the original post.


What about the knee action?
I kinda keep my knees “flat” … not locked, but not bending much. This guy almost looks like he’s pedeling a bike. As a beginner this a very interesting video because as you mention, you never see what’s going on under the deck.

I’m of strong opinion
Those who know me on P.Net know that I am of strong opinion. While I respect the various paddling disciplines, my goal is to simply let sea kayakers know that there are very significant increases in speed, endurance and stability so close to where they are now simply by selecting the right equipment and learning the right technique. Zsolt does a good job of explaining the pleasure that can be derived from making a switch to this style of paddling. One does not need to get a surfski, however, I still believe the switch to a full time rudder and wing paddle are critical components to this breakthrough.

…, and you are not alone
many of us think as you do.

What about the elbows bending?
I’ve got a book that gets into stroke technique … to get their point accross about not bending elbows, they use to analogies. One suggests imagining there is a big ball between the chest and the paddle shaft, which keeps your elbow staight and prevents you from pulling the paddle towards your body (makes you rotate at the hips). The other compares the stroke to “Frankenstein”, again locking elbows.

This guy looks more relaxed …

Form Videos
I was surfing YouTube the other night, and came up with a host of fantastic videos. One of my favorites is the video of the 2006 World Championships. The speed, power, and form of these paddlers is awe-inspiring.

On leg pumping, this has a lot to do as well with your position in the boat. I’m noticing that I can cycle my legs much more in my EFT than I can in my ski; the ski has a deep well that impedes the clearance I have under the front of my thighs, irregardless of where I adjust the pedal position or footbraces. To this end, I’ve been padding the seat up to obtain a different angle at the catch and more clearance to allow for leg action. The plus side of the ski is it has the footstraps that not only allow for minute control by slight edging, but the ability to pull up and really brace in the power phase. A pull bar like on many K-1s would be a great addition to the EFT. When you’re afforded the freedom to cycle your legs, you can effectively drop your hip, release early and wind up for the next catch-helps you plant the blade farther. Watch the videos and notice how the leg that is dropping and straightening actually forces the opposite hip to slide back and the torso to rotate.

Watching the sprinters is impressive, and the marathon paddlers combine these elements with the relaxed fluidity that enables them to sustain their efforts over long distances-sheer poetry in motion, and almost machine-like in their precision and economy of movement.

Two more decent links:

And for some more surf ski fun:

didn’t turn his head enough?
There was just a few seconds of paddling footage. Are you suggesting that one turn the head with each stroke?

critical components to this breakthrough

– Last Updated: Apr-20-07 9:50 PM EST –

Thats the problem with strong opinions. You risk being proved wrong, same as the instructor who scoffed at the ruddered boat and wing paddle, that might have been me 10 years ago but I am slowly getting smarter. There is something to be learnt from every situation, if you cant learn from those you are trying to teach then how can they learn from you?

My strongest opinion is that there are no absolutes in kayaking and that cross training is the path to success. Yes I know that two opinions.

I saw a post some where recently, stating with some certainty that some one with a traditional/greenland paddle and probably a SOF boat would be winning races against top end wing paddlers. Not holding my breath but who knows.

Let the scoffing commence.
this video is I think the one that was one surfski info not to long ago. Enyabull I hear you on the S1-R, By far my favorite boat to paddle, I have an X right now but love the R to death, just wish jude would bevel the rails a bit in it, that would be perfect.

Huki S1R
I paddle mostly in rough east coast water with strong currents. Even when there is little wind there can be nasty random chop. I think the extra stability of the S1R is better suited to these conditions. I am around 200 - 210 lbs so I believe the S1R has the right amount of design displacement and reserve bouyancy for my weight in rougher water conditions. I would like to get one for July, but not sure if I can pull it off by then.