paddle advice SOLO canoe

Good day to all, Fresh start this spring as I look out over snowy landscape. I am paddling a Swift Shearwater, wanting to get into one of the ZRE paddles. Looks like the power surge extreme, the basic facts are I SIT, and I’m 6;1 tall. Can we J stroke on one side or are they sit and switch? Thoughts on paddle length is BIG,question. Best to you and yours, Ravenwolf:

I do both with mine
I am 5’-9" and mine is a 52

Jack L

You can J if you want to
Even with the cupped blade but the paddle really shines when you drop the J. After all you correct when you switch sides. The j really is a friction loss.

Length depends if you are long or short torsoed. My 6’1" hubby should use about a 52. But steals my 49. A lot is determined by your seat height

Find a dowel and paddle with it. Where it gets wet is an estimate of your shaft lenght

instead of bent shaft is what I would order if looking for a one side paddling all day. I use mine sit and switch mainly with occasional J.

Lots of opinions
I have a solo Placidboat Rapidfire with a high rail mounted seat. I paddle this boat in two ways; either recreationally, or for personal race training when I am not otherwise able to train with my race partners in multi-seat canoes.

Sit and switch of course is faster and absolutely necessary when racing in other boats. But I very much dislike sit and switch when I am not racing. Faster yes (not much), but enjoyable no. Sit and switch just doesn’t allow me to get as much feel for the water and boat with the paddle. And the drips in the boat drive me nuts. I get plenty of sit an switch practice on marathon races.

So when solo I will paddle on one side for long periods of time, trying to spend approximately equal time on left and right. For training I use whatever stroke on one side is fastest for conditions and gives me a good workout. I normally use a combination of slight pitch and fast J without any hesitation on the J, possibly with some Canadian thrown in if I want some variety. But very little correction stroke is really necessary most of the time to keep the Rapidfire on a straight course along with a fast power stroke.

Recreationally I may use the bent, but often I like to use one of several high quality straight wood paddles that I have, can’t tell you the length because they are different with different blade shapes. When race training I use a bent shaft graphite paddle from GRB, usually a 50 inch, sometimes a 49 inch. A 51 inch feels too long for me in this boat. The 50 seems to give more variety of control and power than the 49. An inch length difference in reach can make a surprisingly big difference when you paddle for many hours at a time. I am 5’11, or 6’ on a good day.

There really is not many opinions on
sizing at all.

The aim is to submerge the blade fully.

The aim is not to submerge the shaft at all.

Its a shame paddles are sold in LOA rather than shaft length. The former figure is relatively useless.

That’s quite true for bent shaft
hit and switch, but for straight shaft in whitewater, a good deal of shaft submersion is extected and really necessary.

You have to reach way down to snag those rocks and flip the boat.


– Last Updated: Jan-09-15 3:21 PM EST –

Or not.... You will get various opinions as already evident from those posts listed above and those yet to come... and to efficiency, usefulness, and preference of a correctly (or incorrectly) accomplished J stroke. Correct paddle shaft length is as you state, and winds up being different for different body builds and boats. Which is why I have bent shaft paddles in one inch increments from 49 to 54 inches, depending on if I am paddling in any of several canoes from C1 to C7 with various loads, and which station I am paddling at.

Input is good
I guess I am trying to get feedback , before spending the money. That the paddle in question, will move me across the lake. And give the relaxing anti stress reliever I am after. Thanks

Sooner or later you will probably amass a paddle wardrobe… longer for WW… for various boats.

But to start, lets keep it simple. Ezs been collecting paddles for years!

Blade, Body, Boat

– Last Updated: Jan-10-15 10:00 AM EST –

Paddle Physics, the Blade, is a significant factor in efficient paddlecraft movement. Blades lose rip when more than ~ +/- 15dg from square to the intended stroke. [See Winters, the Shape of the Canoe.]

But the Body, bio-mechanical part, controls paddle physics and stance in the boat effects the bio-mechanics. When we kneel, we can reach, with torso rotation, far enough forward to employ a straight paddle, which squares to forward strokes from well forward of the knee, the +15dg, It reaches -15dg at the knee, so effective forward strokes are over; time to recover for another.

When we sit we reduce forward reach because we are lower in the boat and we torso rotate from our sitz bones not our knees so kneeling extreme forward reach is unavailable. Cool, we just bend the paddle about 12 dg to move the +/- 15 degree sweet spot aft, closer to our body. Most trippers should try to find a larger bladed bent. We'll use a slower cadence than racers and want to drop our thumb into a J some, the larger blade helping in both regards.

Sizing is pretty simple. Stand up. Get a good grip on the paddles top grip and drop than hand in front of the body, the blade above your face. For kneelers, the neck, the junction between a straight paddles shaft and blade, should locate at the hair line or, maybe, an inch above. For kneelers the bent's neck should be about at eye level because the paddle works closer to the body.

For sitters, seat height is a factor, but the bent's neck should locate at the tip of the nose for tripping height seats. Wenonah's and Savages need to fit that neck closer to the lips because the seats are lower yet.

Lastly, burden, the weight in the boat suggests more than one paddle length. What fits perfectly in an empty boat will be too long in a hull loaded for three weeks out.

Bent's draws are suspect because they present at ~ 12 dg, pretty close to unworkable angles, so for maneuvering in moving water, a straight about the same length might be carried too.

I've a much longer piece on all this, inappropriate for general posting that I'll forward. Email charliewilson77@gmail for an electronic copy.

bon chance

I use 48.5" ZRE Power Surge . . .
. . . in several different solo canoes including an outrigger canoe. I’m 5-9.

I kneel 95% of the time in my CanAm canoes and sit 100% of the time in the outrigger. I have several bent shafts, but my favorites are all in the 48.5" to 50" length range, with the ZRE being the favorite for weight and length.

Yes, you want to bury the blade, but you might want different shaft lengths for different style of paddles and paddling. Using a bent shaft, I want my grip hand to be pushing down – not straight out and certainly not up. That’s why I like a short bent shaft. With a straight paddle in flatwater I like to punch straight out or, especially in rivers, somewhat up.

When using a bent shaft, 95% of the time I use a single sided correction strokes and the rest of the time I switch stroke.

same seat height
I sit at about the same height as when I kneel. Perhaps when I kneel, I might even be a littler lower in the boat! My torso rotation whether kneeling or sitting feels about the same too, but is a lot easier when I sit…

I am 6 feet long and use ca. 52" bent-shaft paddles most of the time; kneeling when I must, sitting when I can and only using hit and switch when I really want to go as fast as possible.

The difference between a bent-shaft and straight shaft paddle is perhaps best although crudely(?) illustrated like this: