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More Efficient Paddling

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Mike efficient paddling is mindless paddling. After you have some techniques down and practice for a while, there is no need to think about physics. Just do.

I have to say that I feel I need to defend the usefulness of lessons. Prior I was always cramped up and tight and not loose. Worried about tipping.. Exhausted after 15 km solo( now 40 is not usually a big deal unless there are lots of ports and wind..wind)

I teach the ACA techniques for a reason. Not to be canoe police.. For the reason I like to finish up an outing with others with everyone smiling.. I cannot count how many people I have helped out of J stroke cramp hell, or plain exhaustion, or to help them feel secure in any condition in a boat.

It seems there are those who box up components into spiritual moment box and scientific box.. The boxes are not separate. They nest.

There are those self taught that do well and others that throw away the canoe paddle entirely because "its too hard". It need not be.
I know the hallmark of canoe physics is FreeStyle. Well it lets me paddle in circles for miles each day.. feel the air....feel my body stretch and relax. and it has the side effect of not scaring wildlife. on trips I make the most out of each paddle stroke to conserve energy. I have yet to meet a FS canoer that was not a tripper at heart. I have met many canoe trippers with closed minds, who have not even tried anything new and are determined never to in the future either. I love the opportunity to always discover a new way of paddling that can make it easier and prolong my paddling life.

Meet my loon. I was practicing. You really think I was analyzing stroke angle? LOL!!

A few years ago at an instructors update on FreeStyle we were reminded that the most efficient way to go up wind was hit and switch.. So one of our tests was to use that technique on rockered boats and keep a straight line. We learned cab forward did mean less work and not having to correct was less work.. Having eschewed light bent shaft paddles before that I now love mine. And that Zaveral has proved to be a real energy saver in my Monarch in the Everglades. Ask Joe Wildlife.. Hit and switch is the most efficient in a wicked Florida Bay headwind.

Less and less am I using my double but there is an efficient way to use those too. Or use them badly and waste energy.

True your trip is not my trip but all trips should be the least work as possible
 

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Mike efficient paddling is mindless paddling. After you have some techniques down and practice for a while, there is no need to think about physics. Just do.

I have to say that I feel I need to defend the usefulness of lessons. Prior I was always cramped up and tight and not loose. Worried about tipping.. Exhausted after 15 km solo( now 40 is not usually a big deal unless there are lots of ports and wind..wind)

I was not demeaning the value of lessons, or the application of freestyle techniques to tripping or paddling in general. And I do recognize a personal tendency to fall into a zoned-out state of inefficiency, carrying my blade further back than I should or using more sweep than vertical blade. I am aware of my own imperfections, which go far beyond just my paddle stroke.

It isn’t that I lack practice or muscle memory, it’s that I seek to fall into that wonderful empty mindedness. Again, the zone.


I am not cramped or concerned about capsize, or exhausted after 20 mile days. In the zone I don’t notice the passage of time or miles. Or much else.


Meet my loon. I was practicing. You really think I was analyzing stroke angle? LOL!!

While falling into “the zone” has deleterious effect on my stroke efficiency it has a worse effect on my awareness of the immediacy my surroundings. The first trip down the Green my companions asked something about the “Launch Marguerite” inscription on the canyon wall. It is, as you know, damn near the size of a billboard.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Gre...=2NDuVqWQBcLZmwHVhIawAg#imgrc=rzlE4ae9z9mCvM:

I had not even noticed it. I was in the zone, immersed with an empty mind in the fullness of the time and place. That mindlessness is a state of grace that I achieve only while paddling. It is in fact one of the reasons I love paddling. It is also why I love tripping, for those moments in camp all by myself, no people, no voices, no engine noise or artificial lights, sitting empty headed quietly and letting the place come to me.

We have never paddled together, but I don’t doubt that your stroke is efficient without conscious thought. That is your trip. I have on occasion paddled with people whose every stroke was executed to perfection, but it was apparent that their focus and attention was there, on efficiencies of paddle and boat control, and not there, in the moment. That is their trip and their happy place.



True your trip is not my trip but all trips should be the least work as possible

Perhaps. I am resistant to absolutes and alls. No doubt some trips would be less work if I were paddling a narrower dedicated solo instead of a beamy Penobscot. No doubt camp would be more efficient if I embraced a more minimalist lightweight packing style. No doubt I would carry less trash if I burned everything possible in the fire, went without beer and didn’t pick up random detritus along the way.

But that is not my trip.

If all trips should be the least work possible we would all be using small sails.
 
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Well said Mike :- )

IMO there aren't any advanced techniques, only the basics applied well and at the right time.

I can surely say all the lake paddling I've done between river trips since moving to AZ has upped my over all fast water boat control. When I'm doing my lake paddles I usually focus on a couple paddle strokes to practice that day and have a few different tree trunks to do figure '8's and maneuvering strokes. It keeps my interest up and me on the water. I'm enjoying it so much I would like to try the 'Free Style' thing.

But at the end of the day I canoe for fun and as a diversion from the zero defect tedium of my work. While I strive to ply my paddle well and manage my gear eficentlly on trips, I'm not going to grind it to the nub till I'm fretting over it :- )

I have backpacked and boated with folks that fret over things till they don't seem like they are having fun anymore. Good Grief!
 
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Mike, although I prefer going solo, I think I would enjoy paddling a bit with you. The unknown variable in that paddling equation = brand of beer?
 
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Oh well for me a Penobscot would be too wide. I'd be fighting my sweeps with Js all day with a single blade. Cross strokes would be impossible. And in any case my arms aren't long enough..
Ray H has mojo.. he and Marc have trained their dropped paddles to follow them My paddle rebels. I need a spare.

Where did the fret come from? I just paddle and paddle and only Florida Bay wind makes me wild. No beer. It takes too much space.

Ok .. you guys all go out and battle. I love static strokes and not doing anything for change of direction. Also knee steering sometimes.Zen....my idea of canoe tripping is not to work. And working more isn't the same as working smart for the circumstances. I am glad I paid attention to canoe physics and body ergonomics. I will be 70 in a few weeks and still solo tripping!

People are stuck.. I am flabbergasted at the lack of exploration.
 
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I have backpacked and boated with folks that fret over things till they don't seem like they are having fun anymore. Good Grief!

The classic example I have experienced was a couple of backpacking trips in the Wind River Range with a photographer friend. Titcomb Basin, Cirque of the Towers, etc.

The light was never perfect for the photograph he wanted to take. He would bitch and moan about it, never actually seeming to see the awesome vistas around him. His photos turned out fine, but my memories turned out better.

The unknown variable in that paddling equation = brand of beer?

If I had my druthers it would be India Pale Ale in warm weather or stouts and porters in cold, but there is no such thing as canned IPA or stout at a reasonable price. I’ll treat myself to Guinness or Dale’s pale ale on occasion, but my stand by is canned Yuengling Chesterfield Ale, Yuengling Porter or Black & Tan.

Oh well for me a Penobscot would be too wide.
People are stuck.. I am flabbergasted at the lack of exploration.

The Penobscot is wide for me, but it works so well as a big load tripper and sailer that it’s the hull I often choose.

On a trip last week I found myself at Bear Creek Lake with the Wenonah Wilderness. “Lake” is a bit of a stretch; it is all of 40 acres. What the hell am I going to do on a 40 acre lake? On the first circumnavigation of the perimeter I found myself carving gentle turns solely by leaning the hull, quite without thinking about it.

When what I was doing dawned on me I decided to play with my paddle stroke. It made for a fun afternoon.
 
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Canoeing, SUP paddling, and, I suppose, kayaking, are skill intensive outdoor sports. Good equipment and honed technique make them more fun, just like golf and beach volleyball. That said, if someone doesn't care about improved performance there is only the personal penalty of enjoying the sport a little less, as very few of us will every be paid to paddle, and paid more to do it better.

Immediate benefit suggests shorter forward strokes within John Winters Window for SUP Boards, Canoes and Kayaks. Cadence destroying Corrective Maneuvers especially the J Stroke, should be minimized. The J corrects for yaw generated by solo or stern paddlers carrying the blade aft of the body or paddling along the curving rail. Switching sides, or cross forward strokes for kneeling solo paddlers, are preferred methods of course correction, with the knowledge that the need for correction indicates Forward Stroke problems. Wind, Waves? Pick up cadence and speed to pin the bow on course.

In-water recoveries slow cadence and forward progress. The feathered blade sliced forward to the catch, increases drag, further slowing the hull. A fourteen foot solo may have 2000 sq inches of skin surface in the water, A smallish paddleblade, 125 sq in, adds 250 sq in, about 12 %, to surface area. The blade is also moving faster than the boat further spiking drag. That drag also torques the boat, requiring additional drag inducing corrections. In water recoveries are useful on short Draws, Pushaways, and Cross Forward strokes, but compromise forward travel.

Attention to the Paddleblade Physics, Bio-Mechanics and the Boat in the water allow us to paddle more efficiently; farther and faster with less effort.
 
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I would like to bring up the aspect of cadence in efficient paddling. As in other "glide", human-powered sports (flat water canoeing and kayaking, Nordic skiing, cycling, etc.) I feel that cadence is critical to efficient forward movement. In my mind, proper cadence maintains the glide better between each propulsive action by minimizing the lag time.
Also, proper cadence can help maintain better technique. The affect of cadence on good technique probably varies from sport to sport. For instance, cadence is much more critical for efficient Nordic skiing at speed, canoeing and kayaking less so, cycling even more forgiving. That being said, and others have said it, whatever you do is fine as long as you enjoy and have fun. Maybe beer helps one feel like any cadence is JUST FINE!
Happy Easter!
 
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Cadence varies inversely with blade size. I personally feel that canoeing and beer do not mix till the canoe is off the river . Cadence is important for tandem teams.. synchrony might be a better word. Keeping an even pace is better than constantly slowing and accelerating.

The little Zav blades are excellent at high cadence. the wider longer Freestyle blades are low cadence paddles and shine at acceleration over cruising.
 
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Stroke rate or cadence, directly effects forward speed; force increasing geometrically with increases in rate. Smaller blades, shorter shafts and double blades all allow increased cadence. Olympic kayakers sprint at ~150 strokes per minute but slow to 110 spm for 1000 meter races. Marathon canoeists sprint at 90 spm when jumping their bow wake in shallow water but average 65 strokes per minute over multi mile races. SUP paddlers are restricted to velocities under calculated “Hull Speed” by the cadence slowing shaft length of their paddles.
 
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