Hey sit and switch racers

Do you ever reach the point where you don’t drop a tenth of a MPH on that switch?

Man Is it ever exasperating to keep it at the exact same speed on the switch.



What IF…
I’m no Serge Corbin, but what if instead of paddling in synch, you paddled slightly out of phase?

e.g. as the bow is reaching forward the stern is finishing his stroke. When you switch, at slightly different moments, you might keep the momentum.

Of course, you’ll probably go crooked…but you’ll do it fast! :slight_smile:

sit and switch
It may depend on the canoe you are paddling and in what water depth, but most likely other factors are at work here. If it is a racing cruiser or pro-boat you would lose very little momentum unless in “suck” water (shallower depth). If in a white water boat (as an extreme example), you would lose considerably more, i.e. depends on the boats potential top speed and glide.

However, that aside, if you get your cadence up to 45 to 60 spm with a quick snappy return for the next stroke, you will lose minimal momentum in any boat. The marathon stroke has a very quick cycle time, with the majority of the power applied as soon as the blade is fully planted, primarily by pushing down with the top of the hand at that point and bringing in some torso rotation, then exiting at or just past the waist. If your power is applied later or the stroke lingers beyond the waist, then you will lose steam, but don’t fret it if you find yourself doing this.

As a tandem team, we used to spend a fair amount of time synching when the stern paddler would “apply power” in comparison to the bow. We are talking a fraction of a second between the two. The closer to perfect synchronization of power you can get the better. In a perfect world, the bow paddler should almost not be able to detect the stern paddler is even there, i.e. feel no tug from the stern paddler’s power portion of the stroke. Don’t feel like you have to be that advanced, but use that concept when thinking abour your own stroke. Being out of synch does lose momentum, but it is relative.

Switching sides can also take minimal time and be improved with practice. Most folks call a “hut” in the middle of a stroke and switch when that stroke is completed, usually called by the stern paddler, but not always.

That said and in review,

-try picking up your cadence,

-improve the stroke recovery and switch time,

-paddle in as-perfect timing as possible, exit at or just beyond the waist

  • switch (hut) before the boat is too far off course where you have to spend extra strokes getting it back on line.

    A light bent shaft paddle is preferred here, but if you don’t have one, pick a straight shaft paddle that is generally shorter than you usually use, it is preferred over the longer blades many north-woods paddlers use or you would use in rapids.

    You don’t necessarily have to apply a lot of power when increasing your cadence, just get the cadence and timing down first, like easy spinning on a bike. Also and later, learn to integrate draws into your foward stroke for boat control while still maintaining the cadence. Don’t be afraid to paddle on the same side to keep momentum around corners or to correct in the wind. The bow paddler usually sets the pace, but if the stern paddler is uncomfortable, say so.

    I wish more people would learn the marathon sit-and-switch technique for their every day paddling, it will improve ANYONE’s canoeing significantly and it is great fun. It does take practice, which is just a great excuse to get out and paddle anyway. If you attend a local marathon race, you will get an idea of how it is done, and I’m sure they would be happy to give you tips or even take you out.

    Have fun!