Tandem Kayak Skills- Strokes, Edges

-- Last Updated: Dec-02-06 8:54 AM EST --

Tandem owners--- I am considering a tandem. I would like a higher performance boat that I could use with fellow Pnetters, but also with my 12 yo (a budding paddler when I can pull him away from the Xbox360) and perhaps even with my 72 yo, athletic father.

I do not have much of an opportunity to test paddle a tandem due to my location.

A narrower "performance" tandem versus a wider "Cadillac" tandem (eg CD Libra), can they both be acceptable for all these purposes?

Hw important in a 17-18 foot tandem is paddle stroke coordination to prevent paddle strike? Can this length be paddled asynchronously, or no? Is a 21 foot tandem more comfortable to paddle with regards to stroke asynchrony, or does stroke synchrony depend on the rear paddler and is quickly learned?

How about edging one of these behemoths? Turning (even with rudder) must be challenging, esp in wind. A narrower design better, but only if both paddlers are proficient edgers, right? Or is this basically a non-issue.

Ank other tandem skils of importance in training, matching of paddlers, or equipment would be appreciated.

My experience
Synchronization of the strokes is mainly controlled by the rear paddler and yes it will become natural. You can get away with out-of-sync strokes without paddle banging by front paddler not reaching back too far and rear paddler not reaching forward too far in their forward strokes. If you are looking for a performance boat, Prijon Excursion will not cut it. Average 4 MPH is what I get with two adults. The thing weighs 87 lb, a monster to load by one person, even with a Hullavator. I would build a Pygmy Osprey Double – 60 lb. Prijon does have kevlar or fiber glass tandems (Yukon KII Sport) on special orders ($4,999 or $2,999, respectively)

Edging works if both paddlers communicate, but not as effective in turning as using the rudder. Rudder should have a wide blade to track straight longer. Prijon’s “balance wing rudder” is a crap (for a tandem). Pygmy’s double uses a larger Seaward rudder made for a tandem.

on the boat and length of paddle.

many boats have ‘close’ cockpits and many do not. the use of 230-240 cm paddles will require more sync. especially for the young-un, get him a short paddle and look at narrow designs.

The CD Libra is a tank. VERY wide.

turning a tandem is a function of rudder blade size and boat design. If the designer did his job the boat should be rather loose in the stern and have a big (enough) blade. while outside edging is FUN and produces a faster turn it is impossible to properly execute with a rudder blade trailing behind. The ‘edge’ cancels out the rudder’s effeciency and the rudder cancels out the edge. Inside edge works OK. either can be initiated by the either paddler. It’s like a motorcycle BOTH have to feel it and go with it.

especially in a narrow design, with stretch cockpits, paddling w/o a rudder and using edge is a hoot. an experienced paddler can teach a novice how to edge.

for a real trat try a NDK Triton. Basically 2 Explorers glued together. I’d LOVE to make a Tempest tandem but for now the Northstar does fine. Not alot of demand for SOTA tandems these dayz. :frowning:


Tandem Skills

You’ve nailed the beauty of a tandem in the ability to share the paddling experience with others of differing ages and skill levels. As noted in a prior post, it’s wonderful to be able to set out on excursions with my eleven year old daughter, and then turn around and race the thing in a premier long distance event with an athletic partner.

When paddling with twelve year olds, synchronizing strokes might be difficult, so a tandem that has a wider span between the cockpits goes a long way toward fostering a ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ attitude, as they can flail away to their heart’s content at whatever cadence strikes them at the moment, and it won’t affect you. Tongue in cheek here, but my daughter has all the predictability of a squirrel crossing the road in regard to her cadence and stroke. Ever watch a kid ride down a bike path? Even racing the Tango, there were times when I just didn’t bother staying in sync with my partner due to conditions, or just plain laziness (There, I admitted it.). I’ve paddled 18 foot tandems where paddle strike has been an issue. I suppose it might encourage the team to syncronize more quickly so this doesn’t occur, but I hate the ‘Clack!’ of carbon fiber wearing away. $ounds kind of like ‘Cha-ching!’ at times…smile.

As to turning, a wide and deep tandem blade is frankly amazing. The deeper the better. With it deployed, my Tango spins around pretty quickly for its size. Without it, it’s a whole nother ball of wax… When tossed about in the East River, there was one time when we were tossed up and sideways by the CG cutter’s wake through a gap between concrete bridge abuttments. Came down almost on top of another competitor in a folding kayak, missing crushing him like a bug literally by inches. Close, very close. The rudder had ventilated clear of the water and durn near 500 lbs. of boat and paddler were very difficult to control without it, indeed.

I think you’ll have fun in just about any tandem, even those floating party barge Ocean Kayak tandems. If you’ve worked at developing a proper forward stroke, the wider the beam, the more frustrating it will be for you. I paddle strike frequently on the Tango, and affixed heavy plastic film to the deck where this occurs. An-noy-ing. I personally would love to try a Triton or an Aleut II, and am secretly planning how I might convince Doug Bushnell to loan me his Westside Bullitt for next year’s Mayor’s Cup. :wink:

Seda Tango
Got a chance to paddle one down in Baja this past week. It handles really nice and is pretty nimble for a double. fairly narrow so you don’t ger that bathtub feel

If you don’t want to spend big money
but don’t want to paddle a barge of a tandem try a Riot Polarity. Its 16.6 ft. long and 26in. wide. You definitely are sitting closer than in a longer tandem but it really isn’t that hard to stay in sync. I have paddled it with my girl friend, 4yr. old grand daughter and a friends 10 yr. old son and each time I came away amazed at how fun it is. With my son paddling my Sirocco and me and my grand daughter in the Polarity my son couldn’t keep up. It comes with a navigator rudder which I am finding out is one of the best. But another bonus is that it can be edge turned as easily as a single. Last but not least is that Riot has some of the most comfortable seats around. So all day paddles are no problem. The only problem will be finding one. It might be worth looking for.

not to be dissin’ the competition but…the Tango cockpit/combing was pretty uncomfortable. The deck is high meaning you feel a bit like you are sitting in a bathtub and that backrest??? In this day and age I would imagine an updated cockpit would get a RATHER NICE paddling boat some mileage.

I really does handle well. turnable and good tracking and nice blend!

steve (and Cindy)

The CD Kestrel 170T may merit
some consideration. I don’t own one, but I was gawking at a new one in at a dealer’s today. Fine workmanship in an attractive 17’ kayak with ample spacing to permit non-sync paddling, as claimed. It is probably the shortest of the models in the tandem performance ball park, and with its composite construciton, also the lightest. That is, unless you build your own from a kit, and then you are looking at a different composite.

The 170T is a relatively new model, so not a lot of info on it can be found about it yet. What exists is positive, and I can see some positive attributes about it - weight, performance, cost(relative), ease of hauling, all around usage. May take another look tomorrow…

Have owned a few doubles
and have had less relationship problems with the less performance oriented ones. Don’t really use any different techniques, but I am expirementing with single bladed paddles in the Klepper

jaws, thanks!
thanks for making me aware of the Riot Polarity…several times a tandem would have been nice and this is one to consider.

Riot Polarity.

– Last Updated: Dec-03-06 8:47 AM EST –

Nice weight for roto, 26 inch width is good, and the rocker seems helpful for maneuvering (I see tandems without rocker, one would think it'd be sine que non for tandems to assist with turning). But those cockpits sure look close together, esp in 16.5 foot boat. Anyone paddle one?


Seaward Passat
I’m not a highly experienced tandem paddler but I like the Passat. Feel very comfortable in it on flat water with my DB who hardly ever paddles. Not a tub and quite fast. The G-3 version has a center hatch which puts the paddlers very far apart but I haven’t tried one.

Would like to try the Triton sometime.

I think the key is not to get too hung up on paddles touching. So what? A bit of noise, a little break in cadence, no big deal. Go out have fun and dont sweat the little stuff. After all it’s your kid not some marathon race.

Check this out

53 lb for a tandem is unheard of. Wonder what is wrong with it. Anyone has experience with this boat?

sweet the Ruahine is
quite a beautiful boat and the stated weight is incredible…not quite what i have in mind for the kids, the neighbors, etc. :slight_smile:

hmm…maybe, the program i am with just picked up some brand new ones so maybe they changed it. different opinions for different people i guess, stresses the importance o factually trying things out for yourself…

i liked the seat backs, a little high but when adjusted it was nice. i am pretty small and didn’t feel like the deck was that high

And…it’s 22.9 feet long!

Maybe consider a Phoenix Vagabond
http://www.pokeboat.com/Vagabond.htm if you’re considering boats with seats that close together. Get with foot braces front and back and get the spray cover.

At 30" wide, a 230cm paddle works best.

I bought mine used and it doesn’t have a front foot brace, but I’m considering bolting a plastic Harmony adjustable foot brace into it, those bolts would be the only ones in the hull of the boat. The factory foot braces are glassed in.

It works very well as a solo and that’s how I’ve used it the most.

As a tandem, the front seat back is just in front of the rear seat foot braces, so there’s not much leg room for some back seat padders.

Synchronizing with shorter tandems:

  1. I believe that synchronizing is the responsibility of the stern paddler to sync with the front paddler because the stern paddler can see what the front paddler is doing.

  2. The front paddler should try to maintain a predictable cadence to make it easier for the stern paddler to sync with.

  3. When skipping a power stroke on one side while implementing a turn, the paddlers should maintain the same cadence and stroke pattern with the exception of not dipping the blade in the water on the side you’re turning towards.

  4. When the front paddler only is taking a break, they should rest the paddle as far forward as possible so that it doesn’t interfere with the rear paddler’s continuing stroke.

  5. When the rear paddler only is taking a break, they should rest their paddle all the way back on their lap so that it doesn’t interfere with the front paddler’s continuing stroke.

    The Vagabond is VERY stable and as efficient, or more efficient as most tandem canoes, but much more stable. With that large cockpit, paddle drips in the boat are likely.

    There are no bulkheads or hatches, but you can bag it out if you want, but it’s unlikely to be swamped in most conditions.

    It tracks well while paddling, but will turn on you when you stop paddling. They don’t offer a rudder as a standard accessory, but may add one if you request it. It turns pretty easlily as a tandem and surprisingly well as a solo.

    The biggest challenge most paddlers have with the Vagabond is seat comfort. You probably would’t have much of a problem padding it out, since you have some experience with that. We usually just put one of those square three inch thick boat seat cusions on the seat. When paddling solo, I sometimes put two or three cusions under me and use a bent shaft canoe paddle.

    It’s not a plastic boat, but the Phoenix hulls are pretty durable. The decks are very thin except near the cockpit. No standard deck rigging, but you can add some if you like.

    If you wanted custom seats, Patrick Onno would probably fix you up with a couple of his.

    You’re welcome to try mine out with me. I’d be willing to take is out in temperatures above 35 degrees.

    Enjoy your search.

Can you say fast?

Realistically you should look at SOTs
If you are planning on taking kids, neighbors, etc. etc. are you planning on teaching them to wet exit in the tandem? How far and how fast are you going to paddle with them? I had a Hobie Oddysey, a 14’ SOT that I used for that purpose for about 5 years, worked fine for informal paddles with others in SINKS too. It’s taken many a friend on a coastal whale watch paddle, so I image it can handle conditions on inland lakes and slow rivers. The Heritage SOT tandem if you can find a used one is probably a faster boat and is really nice, I don’t think they make them anymore. Paddle clunking was never an issue in the 14’ Hobbie, I believe that has more to do with the paddlers than the boat.

Folders and Inflatables too
The Helios 380 by Innova is a pretty versatile little boat. Not fast but handles well. Paddles solo or double. Can be stowed in the overhead bin on airplanes and goes from bag to boat in about 10 minutes. The folding kayaks are more complex to assemble and bulkier to tote around.