Paddle blade submersion

Today I noticed that on a few occasions, while not focusing, I paddled with a couple of inches of the shaft in the water. I realize that the entire blade (only) should be submerged.

However, I was curious as to which practice is worse:

1} To paddle with a portion of the shaft in the water


2) Not having an inch or two of the blade submerged

Keep the blade submerged, . .
There’s nothing wrong with having the blade fully submerged during your stroke, in fact a fully submerged blade is preferred to a partial submersion. This being said, some part of the paddle shaft will also be submerged during the stroke, more so at certain parts of the stroke.

Paddles do what they do well in the water, less efficiently in the air. A partially submerged paddle blade will tend to carry air behind it as it moves through the water. This is called ventilation, some incorrectly think of this as cavitation but cavitation is quite different and nearly impossible to achieve with a paddle blade.

Ventilation robs the stroke of power and efficiency by allowing the water to slip past the blade and compressing the air behind. No air, no compression, significantly reduced blade slippage.

Watch your paddle blade as it moves through the water and try to minimize any air being carried behind the blade during the stroke. When you learn to perform all of your strokes without any ventilation you find each stroke significantly more powerful and effective.

The issue with paddle length and overly deep blades boils down to this:

The blade should be fully submerged during the whole stroke. A too-short shaft shortens the length of the effective stroke. A too-long shaft puts the blade in the water before the start of the stroke, creates more work, slows the cadence and will feel heavier and slower to wield.

I use a short low-angle paddle and adjust for the shorter length by lowering my hands and hence the paddle blade during the initial part of the stroke. If you try to raise the blade during your stroke your hands will have to be raised. Many people find this a less efficient posture. In general the hands should not be any higher than the eyes and are better off shoulder height or lower.



Relax you’ll get over it.

Thanks for your thoughts Jed
and thanks for the comfort Pahs- I’m relaxing already.

Good ?
The blade should be submerged by the time it’s verticle. Being completely submerged to far in front of the knee will probably put some shaft in too. To long a lever will not gain power, be harder to pull (more chance of injury) and make exit more difficult. Pulling to far back puts on the brakes by pulling your boat down. Keep the stroke out in front! There are many tricks to get your length close, providing your not really short or tall. Boat width, torso height, arm length and what feels best need to be considered. All this is coming from someone that was overgeared for 20 years! The good news is that it’s fun to figure it out.

it’s all
in the angle of the dangle and more directly related to the number of times you get your paddle wet as opposed to how you wet it. You get my drift?