Questions for sit and switch paddlers

Got out for the first time today in the J200 that I got from TommyC1 earlier this week:

The boat was a lot more stable than I thought it would be, but its a workout. I can skip the gym the days that I take this boat out. Couple of questions for you sit and switch paddlers:

How important is a vertical stroke? I know the stroke needs to be parallel to the keel line, but getting my grip hand out over the gunwale far enough to keep the paddle vertical and avoid hitting the flare in the middle is tough.

I noticed that I tend to heal the boat over slightly away from my paddle side as I paddle. Is that OK, or should I be trying to keep the boat level during the stroke?

How do you turn this boat? With a big sweep I can get it into a gradual arc, but it takes a long time to turn. Any tricks to getting a boat like this to turn.


I am not sure why you are having a …
problem keeping the paddle vertical.

I am only 5’-9" and don’t seem to have that problem.

On the turning; I was told: “lean and pray” !

If you ever figure it out I’ll gladly pay you for lessons.

Like yourself, I can make a very large turn with no problems, but on a bouy U turn I am impossible.

My wife and I did several hours of practice a few weeks ago, and I finally gave up in disgust.

She did a couple of decent ones at a very low speed.




– Last Updated: May-24-09 7:04 AM EST –

You should be exiting your paddle stroke just before the flare on your boat, you will also want to "be on top of" your paddle to get the power into your stroke.
Keeping the boat flat and smooth is key, you won't want to bob back and forth and also your type of boat won't turn on a dime, make sure you try to " set up" for the next bend in the river as you approach it. Make sure you switch sides before you need to, once the boat starts turning you're forced to try and keep her straight. Ideally you'll want to keep the boat flat but you may find in tighter spots it helps to "lean" the boat just a bit.
It will take years to master a marathon paddle stroke but stick with it, it's fun and a good work out while enjoying the outdoors.

Skipped the gym this morning
and took the J boat out instead. Did 8 miles in about 2 hours. Didn’t push myself particularly hard, but if felt like a good work out. Tried to focus on technique - vertical paddle, good torso rotation, keeping the boat flat. Now I can add a shorter stroke to the list – good tip. There sure is a lot to remember. As I got tired my stoke got really sloppy.

By the way, why is that that no matter which way you paddle, the wind is always in your face.

Straight keel hulls turn
better when heeled away from the direction of the turn. For that matter all hulls will with the possible exception of banana boats…but they mostly spin, not turn.

turning straight keeled craft
Sweeps works for a wide gentle turn &, as stated, leaning helps. You’ll become more comfortable leaning it as you accumultae time in the boat

Although it trades lots of forward momentum for directional change I’m forced to use a cross bow rudder when really tight turns are required. Leaning fwd a bit gets blade close to bow where it’s most effective

Sorry but…
this picture just raises questions for me! This is one of those hulls of tortured design to meet specs for racing. If you are planning to race, then I suggest a real coach. You’re not going to learn what you need to know in a e-mail forum. If not, what are you planning to do with this hull? If you are looking for recreation, maybe another type would be better.


Ecks got all types
and has fun in all types. No need to go pro, fun is fun!

I disagree.
that is what these forums are for.

There are many paddlers like myself who have learned a lot from these forums and have also passed a lot along that we have learned.

That boat is a great boat for a work out.

Most recreational paddlers and racers are not interested in becoming pros and are just looking for little tid bits from others who are willing to pass along what they might have learned.



besides that
I know paddling with Erik, at least ww, he subscribes to the belief “last one off the river wins!”

Yup, couple tips, he’ll be all set. Erik, if ya’ don’t master that sliver, we’re putting ya’ in Karma next time we see ya’.:wink:

Racing - maybe…
there’s a race right here on my home river in a couple of weeks. Actually, I’m just looking to try a different style of paddling. Matt’s right – to me its all recreation.

Not the squirt boat
at least not any of the underwater stuff.

try em all
IMHO, you really can’t go wrong trying everything. AND, you can’t really know if you like it unless you put some time into learning it. Now somethings I know I don’t like right off the bat, but most things, given some time, you at least come to appreciate and learn about them.

I think I’ve taken a good whack at most types of paddling, though the standup paddling hasn’t caught on around here yet. I’d like to try that. Go and enjoy that marathon boat. Heck, learnings half the fun. They are fun to paddle and so what if you fall in a couple times. Just lean to the outside a little more and I bet you’ll get that thing to turn :slight_smile:

If you’re asking about graceful, momentum-conserving turns, the answer is as mentioned above - lean outside. If you can lean far enough without risking capsize, this causes the portion of the hull in the water to resemble a capital-D, with the curved portion of the D tracing the turn you want to make.

If you’re running out of room and need to make a turn quick, you can lean back and do a pry behind your body on the side you are trying to turn toward. For example, for a quick left turn, lean back (which lifts the bow out of the water so a smaller surface area is resisting your turn) and put the paddle straight down in the water as far back as is comfortable for you to reach on the left side, still keeping both hands on the paddle, and pull it to where it’s touching the boat. Then, with one hand on the very top of the paddle grip, pull straight in with the top hand, allowing the middle of the paddle to rest on the boat. Using the boat as leverage, this produces a very strong push to the right on the rear of the boat, which hopefully spins the front sharply left. It’s also easy to pull the paddle out of the water and quickly repeat the stroke, as long as you don’t mind banging the paddle against the boat a few times.

No “D” in a J boat
The J-boat might look more like a “}” with that stupid wing poking out. But I did not notice much gained by leaning it when I was paddling it. Seemed more like leaning a cylinder than a canoe.


It looks like a normal buldge in the middle, only with extra long ends, in the photo. Is it kind of elongated diamond-shaped?

Here’s a better picture

I did notice that you could use subtle leans in this boat to keep it on course. If I was veering off to the right, a slight lean left would push the stern back around and get me back on course. That was cool - that effect isn’t anywhere near as noticeable in the boats I usually paddle.

As for more dramatic turns, I’m going to try Jackl’s “lean and pray” approach, but this doesn’t look like a boat with much secondary stability, and those wings remind me of Daggermat’s squirt boat. I wonder how hard it is to push this boat to shore when its full of water. (No self-rescue for me)

Awesome !
many thanks for that tip.

I’m going to print it and practice it the next time out.

I was told before to lean back on the turns, but I was doing a sweep on the opposite side, and all the boat did was keep going straight.

Thanks again,


What is your paddle length?
If it’s too short, it may make it harder to stack your hands as verticle as you’d like.

Interesting, I see the wings now. Is that a proven racing design? What is the wing supposed to do? What is its bottom like, flat?

That thing puts me in mind of the concorde.

I see what Tommy means about it not making a D when it leans. So, I guess if you lean so far that a wing comes out of the water, does it capsize?

Here’s a suggestion. Is that seat moveable? I wonder what would happen if you were to purposely move the seat aft of your center of gravity? If I had that boat to play with, I’d try several positions, ranging from slightly back to way back, so far back that the very front of the boat rides a couple inches out of the water. That should increase your turning ability, but what it will do to your speed and stability I can’t guess, with that wing there. It might kill them both, or it might leave them unchanged. (A normal canoe is still fairly stable when ridden like that but it becomes “squirrelly”, able to turn on a dime but slow and no tracking.)

I don’t think the “way back” position is what you will want to use for your regular position, but how it acts like that might give a clue as to what the wing is doing for you. But if it behaves okay in the slightly back position, that might prove to be a good position for river running where you have to turn a lot.