# Position for a Single Paddler in a Tandem

I’ve got a tandem built by Perception and labelled LL Bean Manatee. So far, every time we’ve used it, there have been two paddlers. I’ve read around a bit and have determined that “conventional wisdom” would be to paddle from the rear seat if only a single since its a binary choice of front or rear with no in-between.
Given a theoretical infinite choice of paddler position, where would one paddle? In other words, what determines the ideal fore to aft positioning of the paddler?

The ideal position for a solo paddler is to have the paddler’s center of gravity just (like a few inches) behind the canoe’s center of buoyancy. If the paddler’s center of gravity is exactly on top of the boats’ center of buoyancy then the boat will be level in the water…but it’s best for it to be slightly lighter in the bow because that makes the handling more predictable and also helps make sure the boat stays level when you carry something (like a pack or a dog or whatever). For symmetric boats the center of buoyancy is right in the middle and for an asymmetric boat it’s a little behind the middle. Check out the center seat position in the asymmetric Swift Keewaydin 16 Combi which is meant to be paddled either tandem or solo. With tandems that are symmetric front to rear many paddlers will solo by sitting backwards on the front seat and paddling the boat “backwards” because that puts them closer to the ideal position but a kneeling thwart or center seat puts you into an even more ideal position.

You’re balancing a few things. As TomL pointed out, center of buoyancy. Then, you can think about a weather vane in terms of one side catching more wind than the other, and the boat spinning to leave that side downwind. Then, you can add to that that the balance in the wind changes as your paddling speed changes. For example, you could sit in the stern of a motionless tandem where the bow would readily blow downwind, and with a solid forward pace, it would become neutral with that wind abeam.
Next you add waves which at any quartering angle will act unevenly along the length of your hull.
All factors together, given the need to sit far off the center of buoyancy, sitting in front with the stern blowing down wind sitting still, or weather cocking, can be less manageable than sitting still in back with the bow blowing downwind, or lee cocking, because forward speed can neutralize the lee cocking. Forward speed worsens the weather cocking. Add to this that in calm, a stern will want to move around an overweighted bow in motion, and a bow will want to stay in front of an overweighted stern in motion.
And the ideal forward to aft positioning will likely vary somewhat depending upon the weight and weight distribution, the hull shape and volume distribution, the wind, waves, and current, and paddling speed. If the hull shape and volume are given with a particular boat, this variable becomes fixed. But since conventional wisdom was mentioned, I figured the boat remains variable.

Where the keel of the boat sits flat in the water. That will give you the best control.

Is this a canoe or kayak?

Thanks for the replies.
As noted in the original post, this is a theoretical since the physical configuration of this particular kayak allows for only two positions, fore or aft seats.
IIRC, on the rare occasions when I paddled a canoe as a teen (numerous decades ago), I sat amidships or in the aft half when paddling alone.

Thanks for clarifying skyview