Pointers for slowest paddler on earth

I seem to be the slowest paddler on earth when paddling alongside just about any other paddler, i.e. rental boats, sit on tops, girls, kids and heck I have even been passed by little old ladies.

I do paddle quite often, 2-3 times a week but only in the 3-6 mile range, I am farely strong, I do have body weight against me 240#, I do paddle a efficient boat QCC700, I am a casual paddler not a race mind BUT even at my full speed I have difficulty doing the speed I think I should be able to do considering,I have decent paddling skills and a lot of paddling experience.

The actual question:

I think my forward stroke is of decent form but when say in race pace Im wondering if Im trying to keep to fast a stroke and wondering if I should allow for more glide of the boat between starting the opposite stroke ? I always like to feel out others as to how much push and how much pull on the paddle blade they consider to be proper or in good form. 60 push/40 pull 70/30 ? Pull all the way through the stroke or just part way ? Pull as much as the paddle can handle or to a wobbling point ? I tend to shy alway from pulling in fear of getting tennis elbo ?



– Last Updated: Oct-14-04 12:03 PM EST –

Brian,, do you use a Euro, wing or GP paddle? Tennis elbow shouldn't be an issue if you use rotation,, elbows bend very little, especially with a wing. In my case, pull is predominant 80/20 maybe,, never actually measured this. Stroke rate is definitely important. Stroke rate should be somewhere around 80-90 per minute (this is counting on each side). Bringing the stroke too far back is very inefficient and will cut down on your stroke rate. Don't wait for the glide.

My two cents,


Euro - Werner Camano
Use torso rotation definately if pushing for speed, less so in general cruising, RPM’s who knows. Aware of not taking the stroke to far back and strive not to and strive not to actually pull up through the water with the blade in transission from the finished stroke to the start of the next stroke.

Guess I have to blame my pokeyness on laziness and that extra hundred pounds Im dragging around.


What paddle do you use?..
…What length paddle do you use? The paddle you use, and the length of the paddle can make a difference. If you have a real short paddle length, with a small blade on it, you will have a harder time getting any speed.

…Different paddles have different size blades on them. I know what the “Camano” blade is, and that is a decent blade.

… Did you have your “Wheaties” for breakfast?

…Wish I could help more.


the kayak pro - speedstroke site has excellent movie. When yourr knee is straight- the stroke is over.

Are you trying to paddle at a higher speed or accelerate faster?

Both require good torso rotation.

The difference between your power stroke and forward stroke is primarily shaft angle(almost verticle vs 45 deg).

They are both short strokes (toe to hip).

As a bigger guy myself my guess is you need better torso rotation. Do not get hung up on the push pull. As an exercise to improve your torso rotation try paddling with your elbows locked. This will require you to start engaging your abdomen/torso (think Danger Will Robinson).

Efficient padling is all about torso rotation.

Don’t change your paddle or boat until you have started twisting!


Think about…
Have you thought about taking lessons? I have known several others with a similar problem and the ACA certified instructor was able to help them overcome their problem in one session.

Think about…it might be well worth your time and money.


Ah, I see you stumbled into
my “Fess up” topic. I’m so glad to find I’m not the only underachiever around here. And that perhaps the 700 doesn’t go 5 knots practically all by itself after all.


better stroke mechanics —

– Last Updated: Oct-14-04 1:53 PM EST –

keys to a better, more efficient, more powerful forward stroke:

* stop "air paddling". the forward stroke begins FORWARD ... at your toes. an awful lot of paddlers start the stroke quite short of that and thus get only about a third of the efficiency of a full stroke.

* use torso ROTATION. stop paddling with your arms.

* the stroke starts at your toes and stops at your hips. if you take the paddle farther back than your hips you're wasting energy and efficiency since beyond your hip the paddle blade is lifting water rather than pushing you forward.

* use a more vertical stroke. a flatter stroke adds some rotational momentum to the boat. in other words, while a flat stroke propels you forward, 'some' of the stroke energy is used up in turning the boat ... like a sweep stroke turns you. a more vertical stroke translates more of your energy into forward momentum. this will also help you paddle straight.

* a more vertical stroke dictates a shorter paddle. it's worth noting that the vast majority of beginning paddlers tend to use paddles which are far too long.

Have you considered relocating to Illinois? You’d probably be a fast paddler here.

Carrying the stroke all the way back
is not efficient use of limited energy, but I note that I get an bit extra speed by doing so. If I keep up pulling/pushing and twisting the stroke behind my hips, I reach a higher speed. I also tire a bit more quickly and would not do it the whole tour but it is good for bursts of speed.

Brian - I’m in the same boat (literally), the same age as you (I think), and am 210 lbs, so not that much lighter. I feel cheated if I get in less than about 15 miles (right now I consider myself to only have a mediocre base - for general touring - not racing - and nothing much sprintwise).

This is not meant as a slam - but 3-6 miles? That’s not worth getting the gear cleaned up afterwards!

You get out more often than I do, but I don’t think you can really develop a decent forward stroke that will give you better cruising speeds paddling such short distances.

If you want better speed over distance - you have to paddle at better speed over distance. There is no magic technique to get around this. If you don’t have it - get the Brent Reitz tape. Great stuff - but still must be applied.

At 3-6 miles you can get by just arm paddling and not really know it. Get up to 10-15 miles or more and you have no choice but to use core and legs. Arms don’t like to pull that long unassisted.

Doing 3-6 miles - rotation is an IDEA you apply to paddling. At longer distances it’s a necessity. Rotation is not just torso twisting, it’s winding/unwinding a spring. You can’t do that to effect at low speeds. The form may be right - but it’s empty. Rotation with power can also aleviate some of those back/circulation/comfort issues. Without power - just more aggravation.

Work on doing longer distances. That will get the base built and refine your technique (or at least wear off some rough spots). A lot more speed will come just from that - and it’s easier to ad more speed with that base to build on.

Your paddle’s too long - Jim
If you still have the same on you got with your Tarpon.

Brian - How long is your Camano? Try something 220 or less if it’s longer.

Remember Im slow
Kris Im 42 and lazy

3-6 miles takes me hours and hours :slight_smile: have to stop at McSorleys for a beer, then Blondies, then Elbo Room, Pussers and all the way to Oasis before I turn around. If on the waterways I get much better speed with the limited wateringholes of the Tap Room and Bahia Cabana.

I don’t typically paddle more than about 1.5-2.5 hours at a stretch and tend to be satisfied, use to paddle further in the earlier days. Never have been a paddler that would make a whole day out of paddling trip, usually just some fishing, snorkeling, cruising around and a few camping trips a season.

Rarely wash my equipment, I wait for rain.


I’ll start
I’ll start with the wheaties, is liquid form okay.


Sell the kayak…

– Last Updated: Oct-14-04 2:48 PM EST –

...and get a kayak shaped beer holder and some more paddling t-shirts.

Not sure why you ask questions about things you don't want to do - but I'll keep it in mind on future replies.

PS - Thanks for lowering the bar on "lazy" so I'm not at the bottom anymore. Why am I suddenly craving a Guiness?

Torso rotation
I happened upon a complementary lesson a while back and probably the most useable information I learned and improved upon since is a way of promoting torso rotation. The instructor asked us to follow the blade of the paddle with our eyes/head all the way back, following with the eyes automatically promotes good rotation. Obviously this is a learning process only not a full time technique.


I agree
I am using a 220Cm never used more than 230cm.

I know Im guilty at times short stroking and not getting that 100% but am concious of it, sometimes. I do feel I have a relatively low angle stroke normally but if actually trying to make speed, I do raise the level to about a 45-50 rather than a 30-35 degree.

Im thinking now maybe I am doing more arm paddling than thought, and less torso rotation than I think I am or the rotation is there but not the strength or strength applied to the stroke. Hummmmm


Do they make those
and where can I get a beer shaped beer holder, this 18.5 foot beer holder is to bulky at times. I’ll stick to mail order shirts and save myself the effort.

But I may have come up with my excuse for being slow. I answered to another poster but.

I may be placing to much emphasis on the push/pull of the stroke rather than the rotation/push/pull. I do try to keep in mind to

rotate but Im wondering now if that strength is actually being transmitted into the actual stroke or am I just going through the rotation motion and still just using my arms ? I better get out tonight and do a couple miles and analyze that thought.



I’m probably the least qualified person to give any pointer in this topic. I’m pretty slow. But…

I’ve moved from being THE slowest person in any group and struggling to keep up so that the rest of the group doesn’t get cold waiting for me, to comfortably being ONE OF the slower group. I can see myself progressing up to in the middle of the pod given more time on water.

I agree with Greyak you need to put in more distance if you want to improve. Longer distance is one of the way that works for me, though that’s not until I took a class by Brent Reitz on forward stroke. I thought I was rotating my torso alright. He showed me what it REALLY mean by rotation! I could feel the boat move through water when I apply power. Still, my speed didn’t improve that much immediately after the class. It wasn’t until a few longer paddles (10+ mi) later that I found myself slowly creeping up to the group. See if you can put a 10 miler on the weekend for a couple months…

I know almost no one has the time to do 10-15 miles 3 times a week. Breaking them up into shorter paddles would still work, but only if you keep the intensity high. As Greyak pointed out, you can get away with arm paddling in such short distance in a relaxed speed. Though I’d add not if you really crank it up. Your arm WILL feel like it’s falling off if you paddle at max effort for even 3 miles! And don’t just slack off when you’re tired. Keep pushing it so your muscles get worked!

Even though you may not be interested in racing, it would still help to add some intense training paddles into the mix. For me, faster speed translate into longer distance, hence seeing more, in the same amount of time. Plus, feeling the boat really move through water is something I can’t describe…

I went through the same process in biking a few years back. Now that I’m solidly in the middle of the pack, I slow down often enough to wait for the rest of the group and stop at every watering holes. I’m looking forward to similar result in paddling.