Solo Paddle choice

Yes, I’ve heard those arguments before,
but on this forum and others, CE Wilson has offered an analysis of kneeling versus sitting, showing clearly that the sitting position benefits from a larger bent shaft angle, like the 10 to 12 seen in marathon racing. A straight shaft, used sitting, legs out and braced, means having to stop the stroke very early, or be pulling water upward to an excessive degree while completing the stroke.

CE Wilson argues, on the same geometrical analysis, that a kneeling paddler is best off with a straight shaft. I may note here that ww downriver racers, who paddle kneeling, could use as much of a bent shaft as they want to , but they don’t. Their paddles are straight or nearly straight.

I don’t fully agree with CE Wilson about the kneeling position and bent shafts. I made and often use a 5 degree bent shaft when cruising, kneeling, and it has a wonderful feel. Of course, I’m often cruising in a whitewater boat, and when I start using complex strokes, that 5 degree bent shaft begins to be a liability. Silver Creek of NC offered a 3 degree bent shaft at one time, for kneeling ww paddlers. A friend bought one and really liked it.

On shaft length, if one specifies hip to shoulder height, kneeling/sitting height, and blade dimensions (8 X 21 would do), then shaft length will pop out of the equation. But change blade from my 7.75 X 21 Mitchell to my old longer Clement, to someone’s longer, narrower ottertail, and trying to keep shaft length constant will not work. It sure does not work for me at all, but I will not offer examples now.

Are you sure you disagreed with what I said, or was I unclear?

Where would my legs come in when
I’m kneeling?

I recently pointed out that with the short stroke you recommend, and which I use, rotation of the torso from shoulder girdle on down to hip joints is going to be rather limited. Powerful, but limited in range.

One sees the Bob Foote videos where he twists to an extreme to get great forward reach. But Bob also says to end the stroke early, to cut down the pull as the paddle passes the knee. And when I watch him, Kent Ford, and Wayne Dickert on Drill Time, I don’t see them showing such exaggerated torso rotation.

My torso is almost certainly longer from shoulder to hip than anyone else’s on this board. If I were to twist my torso visibly so that you, the ACA instructor, could see it from the shore, I would completely destroy my stroke.

What I see on the river is not arm paddling, not untwisted torsos, but maybe not enough reach, too much pull-through, and energy-sapping trailing J strokes. Not a pretty sight.

I believe in moderation in use of all parts of my paddling body. Modest lean forward (Davey Hearn), neat blade entry, firm catch, prompt torso engagement, early stroke end, and out to the side with no J. Seems many of us c-1 and OC-1 paddlers use the J stroke only when needed. Otherwise, magically, the bow of the boat comes back on its own, even before my torso twists forward for the next stroke.

Make sure your ACA lore is reconciled with what the slalom paddlers are doing. They can do it all day, just by softening the effort at and after the catch.

Cab forward.

Not sure if I agree or not …
… or that it matters.

It doesn’t matter whether you sit or kneel - if you use a proper forward stroke using torso rotation you can execute a vertical-paddle stroke without lifting water. I’m a kneeler and I use a bent for open-water paddling. I’ll pass on discussions with Mr. Wilson because he gets technical and dogmatic, and I don’t have room for that.

A straight shaft paddle is best for maneuvering, and I’ll leave it at that.

There is no mathematical formula to determine proper shaft length unless you take into account ALL of these factors: your size, the boat you’re paddling, the height of the seat, the amount of the load, whether you paddle flat or leaned, and how high you like to lift your grip hand. After you come up with a number, you’ll still find that paddles with different shaft lengths can be correct for the same paddler under different conditions.

Power strokes?

– Last Updated: Apr-28-14 12:55 AM EST –

If you're doing a proper forward stroke with torso rotation, your deltoid and trapezius muscles will get tired after a long day, but your rotator cuffs will not.

If you're using a lot of power strokes to stay out of trouble, you need to learn proper whitewater technique. Go slow, learn to backferry, and most of all, learn to pace yourself.

Rotation is noticeable
My torso rotation covers about 90 degrees, sometimes more. I’ll leave it at that.

We can be a team. After Mark Twain
spent a day with Rudyard Kipling, Twain effused,

“Between us, we encompass all knowledge!

He knows all there is to know, and I know all the rest!”

So you can know all the rules, and I’ll keep track of the exceptions.

The shoulder, the elbow can move actively or passively through their ranges with little resistance. But twist the torso 45 degrees left or right, and there will be resistance, some of which will not be recovered. In a 1000 meter sprint kayak race, “frictional” losses are of no consequence because, for a short distance, torso twist along with pelvis and legs, is needed for maximizing output.

But for the everyday kneeling ww paddler, extreme torso twist is too costly to keep up. A more modest amount of torso twist can deliver all the “oomph” that is needed in the course of a cab forward stroke. There isn’t a way to take the arms out of the linkage, but in a proper stroke, some torso and shoulder girdle action means that the arms are used in the most favorable way.

I have such a long torso that it reduces the amount of torso twist I need for my cab forward stroke. If I were to try to crank in more, the blade would go back past my hip, lift water, and force me to add J correction.

And I mentioned most of those
factors. I’m not sure that a final answer to paddle length has been found. It may have partly to do with what one gets used to. I came to like 61.5" slalom paddles, and they feel right whether I am on a 10" pedestal in my OC-1, or on a 5.75" pedestal in my slalom c-1. The same paddles feel just right. If you were to see me in my slalom boat with my supposedly long paddle, it would not strike you visually as long, because I’m longer.

There’s still a lot of “I would suggest” and “it’s just what I’m used to” in this area. I have no personal opinion about paddle length for those who are in a hurry, who sit with legs braced out, and who use a bent shaft, but I note that most use a shortish paddle and I leave it at that. They go long distances, they know what they are doing.

For whitewater paddling, it has seemed to me that many OC-1 paddlers use a shorter paddle than might work best for them, but they’re mostly runty little guys, and I’m a big dufus, so what do I know?

Those who mostly kneel and who use a “typical” bent shaft angle of 10 degrees or more, are a very small minority. Zaveral might offer a 7 degree paddle. Based on my own experience, I have suggested 5 degrees max.

You mentioned taking the catch near your knee? Without trying, my catch is near a foot beyond that. But I think a long, straight shaft paddle kind of makes one tend toward that. A markedly bent shaft paddle would just kind of be landing flat-blade on the water surface if reached as far forward as is the case with me. It isn’t that I strain forward at all. That’s just where the paddle wants to plunk in the water.

I second Bill’s comments
Jack L

Solo rivers
It may sound like blasphemy to some, but I like a straight shaft with a flat blade for fast water, and a double bladed kayak paddle a lot of the rest of the time. I made the straight one from walnut, ash, and mahogany. The kayak paddle is ppine from the Sawyer factory in Oregon.

Think a straight shaft short blade is

– Last Updated: Aug-25-14 6:54 AM EST –

your moving water paddle and an ottertail(straight shaft) or carbon/wood bentshaft is your flatwater paddle. 8/25 EDIT: ...but what I find the biggest improvement is a paddle with the Tenney & Shaw "Guide Paddle" grip....a J-stroke is so much easier when a more relaxed diagonal grip on the grip is possible...fwiw.

Not a big deal. Choose a paddle and go with it.

get a regular paddle, not a bent shaft. Bent shaft helps move faster, but a generic straight paddle gives you more oomp.