paddle choice for kneeling

I’m switching my Rob Roy seat out (again). I’d like to put in a cane seat or a kneeling pedistal. I’ve had it set-up with a Wenonah sliding solo seat, but nowadays I only paddle the Rob Roy on bigger water. I do all my training/exercise/daily paddling in a Jensen C1.

My question: of you who kneel, I’m guessing you mostly use a straight shaft. But I’m not doing whitewater (I live in Florida). I can push the boat along quickly while kneeling with a bent shaft. Any reason I should try a straight shaft paddle? Is it different enough on the power angle that it matters?


CE Wilson can explain the mechanics,
but the gist of it is that when you are kneeling, a marked bend (10-14)in the shaft does not help keep the paddle blade vertical in the core of your stroke effort. However, I find that a 5 degree bent shaft does work well for me when kneeling.

that is assumed, but

– Last Updated: Jun-14-08 8:20 AM EST –

I am not really satisfied with any of the explanations that I have heard about the reason why and when a bent-shaft paddle works better then a straight shaft, because most of these explanations contain assumptions about how paddling works, that -- I think -- are not really right.
I even made a drawing of it, to see it that would ‘prove’ or clear up anything,
but so far I haven’t been able to really work it out,
other than my assumption -- so far -- that a bent-shaft paddle makes the forward stroke a little more effective because your are pulling yourself less downward than when paddling with a straight shaft?
So that leaves us to our own experiences:
I find that I prefer (my) bent-shaft paddle when I paddle kneeled -- although I have noticed a slight preference for my Mitchell Leader instead of my Grey Owl Marathon when I kneel. Reason is perhaps the curved blade of the Leader? But that is just a guess. It could also be because it is a little longer?

Dirk Barends

your drawing
will help you figure it out if you put a paddler in the picture. Your last position, which looks like it is at the end of the stroke in your drawing, will actually be near mid-stroke, Your idea about pushing vz. lifting is also right.

I learn something new every day …
… I’ve never used a bent shaft but for whatever reason , I always thought that the paddle was held opposite of the the drawing . Looking at it now does seem to make more sense with the power face bending away from you .

Dirk, building on your drawing, can you
see that a kneeling paddler can reach farther forward, and that, with a straight shaft, the entry angle will allow a longer period where the blade is pushing down, rather than up?

Paddler size matters
Chances are someone over 6’ tall; with a tall size torso; and with extra long arms will favor a straight shaft paddle when kneeling. But each individual will have to work out their own preference.

But at 6’ 5", various kneeling heights,
I prefer my 5 degree bent shaft. For straight line paddling, that is. For whitewater, straight shaft, curved blade.

I have not seen whitewater paddlers of ANY height using bent shaft canoe paddles. And, for whatever reason, I have not seen kneeling flatwater canoeists using bent shaft paddles. It’s not often done.

interesting subject
The drawing is crude and possible not accurate

also because I exaggerated the bent for clarity,

but what I tried to visualize in this drawing

is based on the way I think I am paddling

when both paddle blades are in the power phase of the stroke.

But a video from a real paddler in slow motion would be helpfull,

to check if this really is the case.

Paddling is really complicated with all the forces acting,

to understand and visualize what is really happening.

I have experimented with paddling kneeled and sitting

and I found the difference in my reach so small,

that I would call it negligible.

Either way, I favour my bent-shaft all the time,

although admittedly I do not kneel often for long times,

only in waves of rapids or when FreeStyling a bit:

Only with a high kneel

my reach is significant greater.

but my bent-shaft paddle feels to short then, of course :slight_smile:

Dirk Barends

kneeling paddle
I only kneel and I mostly use straight carbon paddles because they are so versatile but I do use bent shafts sometimes (like now since I’m recovering from a broken wrist) since they move the boat along with even less effort.

I think you can be perfectly satisfied using nothing but a bent shaft; in principle all you give up is a little bit of boat control.

thanks for all the replies
i’m talking pure speed on coastal waters. no whitewater. a bent shaft feels much faster to me, but maybe that’s because i race C1 marathon canoes.

i do see people in florida kneeling with a bent shaft. but maybe our noggins’ have been fried from the sun.

thanks again.

I Kneel because sitting hurts

– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 11:59 AM EST –

I use any where from 54" to 58" straight as well as a 54" bent.
The bent is a Zav whitewater. I guess it's heavy for a Zav but it feels close to weightless compared to my Mitchells. I prefer to use it in my Osprey, Independence and J200 for anything class II to openwater. I combine switch and control (J etc.) strokes as needed
I prefer the Mitchells for Class III or lot's of rocks.
For what it's worth I'm 5'9" with a 30" inseam.

I'd think you could kneel pretty well with the Wenonah seat. I can in a Voyager. Makes me wonder what you would gain with a pedestal? I would not even consider a bench in a Rob Roy.

what would you do with a RR?
I’ve seen lots of kneeling posts from you, tommy. any ideas?

also, you kneel in a J200? Are you fast while kneeling?


Wenona Voyager Tractor Seat
The frame in the Voyager I tried was narrow, maybe 7" - 8" wide. I thought that was pretty comfortable for kneeling. I have not paddled a Rob Roy but I’d guess you would want the seat about 6" off of the floor.

That would be ideal for a Rob Roy in my opinion. I’d probably put some sort of minicell ridges on the floor to help my knees stay wide too.

The frame that came in my J200 is almost 13" wide I can’t kneel with that so I took it out and use a minicell pedastal loose on the floor. That is 9" and I’m quite a bit more stable that when seated.

The other thing that might be interesting would be to set it up like a whitewater canoe with a minicell saddle, kneecups and either thighstraps or a console.

That would give you killer hull control, including rolling, at the expense of the easy trim adjustment you get with the tractor seat. You can see examples here

and here

I’m pretty slow in the J200. Partly because I’m lazy and partly because of my “last one off the water wins” attitude. I’d have to overcome those before I’d see a difference from kneeling.

wenonah frame
I’ve still got the Wenonah frame in the boat, sans bucket seat. I’m going to try paddling it with an angled board resting on the frame as a kneeling thwart of sorts. The Rob Roy gunwales are a little tight for kneeling with the tractor seat installed. I have both the large and small one. Maybe I’ll try to the latter once more.

The whitewater outfitting is tempting. I’d love to have that kind of control over the boat on big water.

If you set up your Rob Roy that way,
I would suggest that the pedestal be wide enough, and the front end of the pedestal sufficiently unencumbered, that you can occasionally extend your legs forward, when water conditions permit. Kneeling ALL the time, for long periods, is inevitably somewhat uncomfortable. If you can even stick ONE leg out forward, while still kneeling on the other, this will bring occasional happiness.

The MR Guide I bought used had been set up that way by the previous owner. It has a Mohawk pedestal seat that includes a wide portion under the butt, and also prominent knee-spread support at the front of the pedestal. The only thwart support for the pedestal is a single thwart at the rear. This allows one to swing the legs forward, where the owner had foot blocks, and also knee padding under the gunwales.

I wish I had seen a Rob Roy in the flesh. Does it have good secondary stability? Some kayakish small canoes may not make good kneeling c-1s because they don’t have the secondary stability to assist the paddler in maintaining uprightness.

RR stability
It’s quite stable, for me at least. I’m 6’1", 175 pounds. I surf Gulf waves regularly in it and have never had a problem.

I’m hoping to try it out later today or tomorrow morning.

How high and how wide?
Is the cockpit in the Rob Roy?

Same question of the tractor seat?

Is it the front to rear dimension that is a problem or side to side?

Is the problem getting your feet in and out or having room for your thighs or something else?

…Wen’s kevlar/carbon? Racing seat…

– Last Updated: Jun-17-08 8:05 PM EST –

Hey you Are aware that their "racing" kevlar/carbon? sliding seat is a heck of a lot smaller than the standard tractor bucket!...y/n...?
It's the only way to go for leg room between seat & hull.


Tried that
that was my initial set-up. i tried to kneel with that setup, but it was a little tight.

maybe i should try that again, though. thanks.