k1 beginner

Bought a Wenonah Orion k1 about 3 months ago and have just now been able to take it a couple of miles without throwing a brace. I admit the water temp. has kept it in the garage more than I’d like but now I’m stepping up the training. I do have a few questions for anybody with experience in tippy k1’s.

1)what is the correct position of the legs? Angle of bend , distance apart, and postion during rougher waters.

2)My feet have really been going numb. Is this normal for now while learning to balance. I noticed that my legs and hips really stay tense.Could this be the cause?

3)I feel am really making progress but still stay frustrated. Can anyone describe the learning process of paddling a sprint boat.

paddling k1’s
I am actually getting my first K-1 soon. But I can tell you a couple of things I’ve learned from a coach out here. The first thing he said to me when i paddled off in a Kirton was get that grimace off my face. I was so tense that it showed on my face, but mind you this boat didn’t even sit upright in the water while at rest, what kind of a grin should I have?

So. . . if you are not relaxed (your hips, your shoulders, your face), you could be practicing bad technique that will be harder to undue if you don’t get help from someone who can teach you some good pointers.

knees will be up and will finally move up and down with each stroke, hips rotating with torso. In a K1 (or a surfski), the ability to be loose in the boat, might ultimately be more comfortable than a kayak and hopefully reduce any foot pain or numbness. Having a boat that is too tippy for your skills may be problem, finding someone who can look at what you are doing, and give you some help with it, might be a good thing. I did a web search and did not find the Orion, do you know where a description of one is?

gonna try a couple of beers
before going out tomorrow. Maybe that will help relax me. I’m not kidding.

Cannot find any descripion of the boat myself. Pretty much just a classic k1 design with the flare behind the cockpit.

Good luck with your new boat and thanks for the advice.

Same Here
I was searching for your boat and did not find anything on it. I am also a beginner K1 paddler. What I was going to post is almost identical to Seawave’s comments. I bought a used Cobra Eliminator a few months ago. Researching the boat before hand I was under the impression it would be very unstable. The first time I got in it I was so tense that I could barely paddle. After about an hour of adjustments and short paddles within feet of shore I started to relax. By the end of the day I was fully relaxed and the boat became much more friendly. Hips loose, legs outboard and feet comfortable on the footbar. I now fish out of this boat and can paddle with full stroke and speed. These boats are like a high strung horse. If he knows your tense you going off. I’d say take the boat out with a swimsuit on in a safe area and push it and your skills to swimming level. You’ll get the feel of it soon and will not regret the learning curve. I’ll never paddle anything slower again.

believe it or not
I havn’t tipped yet. Not to say that I havn’t braced for my life. Thought I lost it for sure once today but managed to brace out of it. I think you’re right though. I do need to put the coals to it for once. Perhaps the fact that I havn’t fallen yet makes me more tense. Should be a good day for a swim tomorrow.

Is this an older boat? I believe Wenonah did make kayaks for a period, but have since dropped these lines. They made a pretty fast race/touring kayak called the Seal; there are still a couple kicking around at the races.

Had the same experience as you the first time I tried a Kirton K-1, tighter than a D.A.R. convention in Vegas, and every little twitch caused a wobble. I didn’t swim, but spent half my time bracing and the other half gingerly paddling, till I gained confidence. I like the couple of beers idea, although far be it from me to encourage reckless alcoholic consumption on these boards. You’d need a motorboat for that. :wink:

bracing stokes
I believe its the bracing part you don’t wan’t to be doing. By truly committing to the forward stroke, the place you get your balance is: at that moving outwards by your hips that sets up third point of contact with the water. that and an occassional slap with the back of the blade is where you should balance the boat. I assume you are using a wing paddle, which during its movement through the water is more solid than a regular paddle.

I am going to get an older design wood k1 by Struer, the Lancer X. It is in very good condition and the right price @$700 in late April.

you’re right
I just came back from a paddle and did better than ever. Instead of reacting to wobbles with a brace stroke, I just forward stroked out of it. It seems that just planting the blade gives plenty of stability. I do have a wing paddle and that too has helped a bunch. Seems to give much more support than an traditional blade. Gonna hit it again later. Thanks for all the input. Good luck with your new boat.

thigh braces
My t-bolt - with the seat way up high- has been compared with an orion so I added small out of the way thigh braces and they are great for bracing against power boat waves. And my knees can stay together and push against the thigh brace. Stirrups or toe straps are often used. So is a bar similar to a 10 inch towel holder bar for the bathroom. You hook your feet for more power and drive just like advanced pedal bike systems. They are shaped like a tool box handle and can be made of strapping or aluminum bar. Try kayakpro or fred mechini web page or usack. Canoe racers use these toe straps. Try watching the news while sitting on a balance bar or walking on old rr tracks. Judo helped me.

learning curve
Of all the stupid things I have done (ice climbing, rowing, xc ski racing, on and on) padddling a K-1 was the toughest learning curve. Just stick with it, in 3-4 years you will wonder what the problem was. No kidding.

The Orion was made by Wenonah for years- it was reputed to be a rip off of an East German design 20 years ago or so. It is now considered to be a good training or rough water boat, having been surpassed by the Eagle and Cleaver-X (both of which are now outdated at the world class level)

Some hints- for leg adjustment, when you drive your leg on the same side as the paddle stroke, the leg should be fully extended. If the knees are too high, you would not be able to do this. One thing that I find invaluable are foot straps- with my toes slipped underneath, I can pull with the opposite leg for more hip rotation, and overall feel far more stable.

But I remember many years ago trying the foot strap and feeling freaked out- could I get out if I tipped over? Now I am freaked out if it is not there.

One possibility for the numbness- there are two seat heights available. If you have an ample posterior (as I do), the lower seat can put you so low in the boat that it can pinch the area below the greater trochantor (hip bone). This can produce numbness due to constriction of the sciatic nerve. Solution is to use the high seat, which makes the boat even tippier. Locally, we call this syndrome “Wenonah butt”.

For getting over the tippiness, time in the boat- lots of time. One thing is the psychology- being tense because of failing by tipping over. One way is to use the boat on warm water & air temp, and do everything to fall out. Paddle with your hands only; try edging the boat,and returning to even keel. My fav is to paddle like a canoe- see how many strokes you can get on one side before switching or tipping (also a good exercise to practice moving from the hips/torso instead of the shoulders/arms). Another is to throw in a pause after the release.

I love my Cleaver-X, but in winter, before sunrise, when the river is rain-swollen and squirrely, I still use the Orion as my “rough water boat”. But I sure do remember when it terrified me (7years ago).


I don’t feel so bad now.
I’m happy to finally hear from someone with an Orion who can relate to the frustration. I think that’s just what I needed to become more optimistic on this learning process. Going for a swim now. Thanks

k1 beginner
I appreciate reading the posts. You guys make me feel almost wimpy. Here I am looking for a K-1 downriver race boat and you are finessing with world class k1’s. Good to read the techniques and tips. Thanks for letting me “tag-along”. (Dave Macadoo - I did make contact with Dan. Thanks for the info.) Chuck