The worst paddling advice I've heard

in a long time was delivered by one of the reps at a demo day today. It was something like “Try to put your paddle in the water further from the boat. You don’t want the paddle too vertical. If you put the blade in right next to the boat you’re putting it in water that’s already moving. If you put it in the water that’s further away from the boat you get a better grip on the water.”


if you REALLY want to stay dry
wear two sprayskirts

thats even better than
Them"You know your stroke is really poor, you shouldnt rotate your torso, you should push with your upper hand" Me-“no thats not right” Them “well thats what I was told” Me"who told you that" Them “people from maine”

And this is while I’m paddling my surfski with a wing, and while I am not greg barton, I have a decent forward stroke. lol, gets me everytime.

Course working at a kayak shop gives me the distinct privlige of hearing it all.

Customer “how stable is this boat upside down?”

or “Can I put a motor on this, I dont really want to paddle all the time”

one of my favorites “Is this paint (gelcoat) waterproof?”

in the words of bill engvall “here’s your sign”

Reminds me of something way off-topic
At the Oshkosh Air Show many years ago, a guy was giving a presentation about how a jet engine works. He did just fine explaining compression of the air, injection of fuel and the resulting combustion. He lost it when he went on to say that the resulting jet blast which rushes out the back of the engine “has nothing to do with the propulsion of the airplane”, and that in actual fact, “100 percent of the propulsive force is the result of air being sucked into the intake on the front of the engine”. Of course, this begs the question of why huge airliners can use reverse thrust for braking right after touchdown on the runway (by diverting the jet blast in a forward direction by means of a big two-piece scoop), or how the Harrier jet fighter can hover and pivot and slide this way and that by altering which way the exhaust nozzles are pointed. Sure, velocity of air entering the front of the engine is very high, but any kid who’s had high-school physics should know that if intake suction were the ONLY thing that propels the aircraft, total thrust could not exceed the force exerted by atmospheric pressure on the cross-sectional area of the engine, which might not even be enough to make the thing creep along on its wheels. How a guy who “didn’t get it” to such a degree was asked to give this demonstration is something to ponder.

To those who don’t care, sorry for the off-topic story. I just started snickering when Angstrom’s story reminded me of this incident which I hadn’t thought about in ages, and maybe someone else thinks it’s funny too.

um, I was told to push the top hand
and it actually helps me not tire out so fast (I have fairly lousy upper body strength). Is that not the right thing to do? The advice was to put roughly 60% of the effort into pushing the top hand, and about 40% pulling the lower. (And yes, it was a Maine kayak instructor who told me that.)

I was out paddling with a friend several years ago who was trying a kayak for the first time after years of canoeing.

He asked me, “Cal, am I doing this right?”

I answered, “You’re dry, aren’t you?”

No more questions from him the rest of the day and he takes pleasure in telling the story time and time again.

Any day on the water is a great day.



– Last Updated: May-21-07 6:12 AM EST –

I have heard that with the newer high-bypass-ratio turbofans, a substantial portion of the thrust is produced by the inlet fan section. But you're right -- to say that the jet exhaust has "nothing" to do with it is dead wrong.

Paddling is a push-pull affair…
…but trying to put ratios on it is ridiculous, as the amount of pulling vs. pushing varies through the stroke. Just do what feels right and don’t worry about it.

wasnt to clear
the person I was with said that you shouldnt rotate at all, that you should only push the paddle with your top hand, and just use the lower hand to guide the paddle. Sorry, should have just written that out, remembering the whole conversation just made me laugh so hard I just typed fast.

depends on paddle length does it not?
Those with wider boats and longer paddles will definitly have trouble going vertical and will benefit from a lower angle stroke in my experience.

Which will put the paddle farther out from the boat. the blade should still be under water and not half in/half out during the forward stroke. And pushing with the top hand is the only way I get any torso rotation and use the pedals so I think that’s good advice too. But in the end I agree that if you are having fun and are still dry why argue? Just try different ways of doing the strokes and see what works for you. Some paddlers are so dogmatic on this post!

I would have laughed out loud. I can just see this person reaching as far away from the boat as they can with the paddle and wondering why there back hurts and they can’t seem to hold a straight line.

It’s the physics
It was the part about “The water next to the boat is already moving” that really got me.

Worst Advice
When your boat is broached in the surf “show your butt to the WAVES”… right and you’ll have a beautiful view of the ocean from down below rather that on top. Although that is a pretty cool view to have from time to time.

I see what you are saying.
No, he wasn’t talking about direct thrust by blowing some air through a bypass way around the combustion chamber. He actually said that “the plane is sucked forward”. Pretty amazing.

Chinese Whispers
I can see a grain of truth/value in the majority of the humorus quotes above but taken out of context and worthless except as light entertainment on a notice board.

I’m guessing that most of it is a classic example of someone latching on to one piece of information and missing the real point. (We teach instructors how to teach but not students how to learn.)

I’m sure none of us would sleep at night if I knew or worried about all the times we get miss-understood or miss-quoted.

Add to that the problem of psudo experts and wannabe instructors taking classes and trying to regurgitate what they have learnt to their friends without taking the time to “own it”(I’ve seen results varying from amusing through pointless to dangerous).

Bottom line is dont take anyones word for it, make sure it makes sense and works for you. Get a broad cross section of advice and maybe see what agrees. If you dont understand ask questions, keep notes. Be aware who you are taking advice from as this may effect the value of that advice.

Bad Advice / Good Advice
Sometimes people don’t understand the context and apply incorrectly. Bad Advice for Beginner -Good Advice for someone with boat control and experience in the surf.

IN a smaller boata if a medium sized foam pile is moving towards you if you aim the boat at a 45 degree angle, tip up and show the wave your butt and do a powerful sweep on the shoreward side you will pop up over the wave, do this wrong and you are toast.

oh good…
the pushing the top hand advice works for me! And yes, of course the percentages change all the time, that was just offered as a suggestion as to emphasis of where your effort goes in general. Beginners tend to just pull on the lower hand and wear themselves out very quickly, especially if their arm strength is not great (like mine) and they don’t have the torso rotation down yet. So I tend to listen carefully to any piece of advice that may help mitigate my lack of strenght, and try it to put it all together and see if it works for me. I have learned through swimming, dance training etc., that good technique can overcome many physical shortcomings. Paddling is a lot more fun when you can keep up with your partners and your arms are not screaming at you!

Who was talking about going out on
a wave? If you are sideways to a breaking wave and you brace or edge away from it (and its large enough) you are probably going over.

Good point
I’m learning to do stern pivot turns in my WW boat, which involves edging outside and leaning back as you sweep to slice the stern underwater. That’s not at all what we teach beginners for a “normal” turn.

When you hear advice that sounds odd, it never hurts to ask “why?”. The person giving it may be assuming a completely different context than you are.

It’s hard to explain in a few words about push/pull, and “just do what feels right” may keep you paddling wrong for the rest of your life.

A reasonably good test" A poor stroke will tire you out, so that you feel it the next day.

A good stroke can be done for a 10 hour paddle and leave you ready to do it again tomorrow.

I know of one paddler with 10 year’s experience who never paddles two days in a row because his arms are too tired.