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Wenonah and paddling technique

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Sometimes while tripping I enjoy slow subtle quite one sided paddling. Sometimes while tripping you want to make miles/kilometers and sit and switch with balance is precise, efficient, and fast. As has been said Sit and Switch or any stroke is just one of the repertoire of paddle strokes and when mastered they are mindless and come naturally.
 
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Agree that Westwood didn't develop this stroke technique.

I don't know when Foster started teaching this for whitewater, but John Berry showed me how to control his ME, a real banana canoe, with a carve balancing stroke in 1983, and I'm sure he'd been using it for decades in his open and closed canoes. He called it something like "generating a bow sidewash."

Charlie Wilson taught courses on the inside circle (carve balancing) forward stroke at flat water freestyle symposia in the 2000's. Don't know about his instructionals before that, but I'm sure he knew the stroke much earlier. It naturally comes to many paddlers who experiment with heeling and bow stroking dedicated solo canoes from a central seating position, which allows the most efficient use of on-side and off-side bow quarter strokes.

In a flat water touring canoe, you will not have the dramatic turning effects you see from the highly rockered whitewater canoes in the video, which is quite good except for the confusing (to me) terminology. In all four of my solo flat water canoes, I get a better carve by heeling to the outside of the turn, rather than the inside as with a highly rockered whitewater hull—although I can get a decent inside carve in my composite Wildfire.
I was a member of a small whitewater clinic Tom Foster taught at his Outdoor Center of New England on the Miller's Falls river in the early 1990s. At that time circle carving was the central tenet of his instructional curriculum. Well before thatI had purchased a VHS video Tom had produced years before titled "Whitewater Bound" in which he described the technique at length. I recall an article that Tom wrote in "Canoe" magazine (yes it used to be called that) titled something like "The shortest distance between two points is a circle". I am guessing that was around 1990, perhaps earlier. I am quite certain that Tom Foster was teaching this concept no later than the late 1980s.

I suspect that circle carving is a technique that individuals had employed for a very long time here and there. It was one of those techniques along with the Canadian stroke that I felt I had "discovered" by accident well before I had ever heard about them in a video or read about them in an article.
 
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I had a Wenonah Odyssey that loved to go straight. It was turning that was a challenge.
I ordered a Wenonah Spirit II once from the factory. It arrived by freight and looked terrible so I sent it back.
Mike C has some interesting ideas about canoe design. I have talked with him a few times.
 
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I do that…just never knew there was a term for it.
 
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I had a Wenonah Odyssey that loved to go straight. It was turning that was a challenge.
I ordered a Wenonah Spirit II once from the factory. It arrived by freight and looked terrible so I sent it back.
Mike C has some interesting ideas about canoe design. I have talked with him a few times.
Actually heeled over the thing will spin like a top. It wasn't our first choice but we had nothing else available to teach FreeStyle at an event. I can't remember why we had the Odyssey with us but we did. We were teaching tandem . We managed to do 180s with it heeled over a bit and actually aside from its large surface area exposed to any wind it does wonderful Canadian Style.
The Odyssey had considerable "side rocker" and did not have that darned widest at the waterline feature so it was a friendly boat to heel.. Not so much at all the Argosy.. try to heel that puppy to the rail and a swim was a second away.
 
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The Odyssey was advertised as a "down river boat." But there was always a caution that "you must know your strokes."
The keel is straight. I will never run rivers with a boat like that again.
 
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The Odyssey was advertised as a "down river boat." But there was always a caution that "you must know your strokes."
The keel is straight. I will never run rivers with a boat like that again.
It's designed to go fast downriver, and hopefully there's not a rock in the way. I've paddled parts of the Payette River in Idaho, a rocky, technical CII-III, in my solo Wenonah WWC-1 (their downriver racing solo). It's a very similar design to the Odyssey--long, straight, no rocker. It goes from Point A to Point B very quickly, unless you have to maneuver. I learned my lesson, but on less technical rivers it is great, and introduces a completely different way of paddling moving water (forget bow eddy turns).
 
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So none of you guys use a J stroke with bent shafts?
Depends on where you are. If you need acceleration you don't want to have any braking action. Some bent shafts are meant to be used at a very high stroke rate per minute. The blade area may be smaller. Why J and lost the opportunity to keep up the pace. Some bents have larger blades and people may not be able to keep up 60 bpm but 20is fine. 20-30 is j stroke territory.. Usually you don't have to j each stroke if you have good paddle mechanics underway.
Sure I and probably others too use a J stroke. Hand S does not work well in all situations like mangrove tunnels for me recently. A double blade in a tunnel means you will be using half and hoping the ferrule doesn't stick. I use my short bent shaft FoxWorx..and a j stroke.. I don't need to pull spiders down.
 
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So none of you guys use a J stroke with bent shafts?
Yes, of course you can do the J with a bent. Can't transition it into the Canadian stoke, but the J itself works well, as does the "pre-J" pitch stroke. Any stroke that depends on reversing the blade with a palm roll, or using the back face for any portion of power ( such as the box or Indian stroke ) is not really possible with a bent.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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So none of you guys use a J stroke with bent shafts?
On flat water and smooth water, I paddle bent shaft with mild J correction the majority of the time, almost always from my knees. To avoid a wrist- and forearm-tiring aggressive J, I usually precede the mild J with a slightly pitched C stroke on the pull and have no difficulty transitioning into a Canadian stroke on the return to complete the corrective action. What you can't do with a bent shaft is a palm rolled stroke.

I go to switch paddling, which is boring to me, only when I need a high stroke rate to paddle fast, as when paddling into the wind or up a river current.
 
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So none of you guys use a J stroke with bent shafts?
If I am paddling solo with a bent shaft I switch about 80 percent of the time but the rest of the time, or when paddling stern in a tandem with a bent shaft I use J strokes routinely. Also have done Canadian strokes with a bent shaft without any trouble.
 
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I go to switch paddling, which is boring to me, only when I need a high stroke rate to paddle fast, as when paddling into the wind or up a river current.
Sometime I uses switch paddling to make it fun and challenging. I paddle a lot of narrow creeks and rivers and love to increase the speed while attempting to stay in the small channel or make the narrow opening under the over hanging trees. It is not all switch paddling obviously but doing it slow and graceful is easy. Doing it fast and graceful is more challenging and fun.
 
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Sometime I uses switch paddling to make it fun and challenging. I paddle a lot of narrow creeks and rivers and love to increase the speed while attempting to stay in the small channel or make the narrow opening under the over hanging trees. It is not all switch paddling obviously but doing it slow and graceful is easy. Doing it fast and graceful is more challenging and fun.

There is a lot of fun to be gained from such things. I used to paddle straight keeled 18' solo canoes upstream all the time which, obviously, aren't real fast turners. And since this was race training the goal was as many pure forward strokes as possible without correction. It was fun, and satisfying, to view the river ahead and mentally plan your course and then try to carry it out without breaking rhythm.

For example you normally stay close to shore where the current is less but there's a downed tree up ahead you'll need to go out and around. So in advance you kind of pick out when you'll need to start angling out so that the whole thing is done seamlessly with no break in rhythm and no correction strokes. You're also watching for the eddy line caused by the tree so that you can cross it at the right angle with the paddle on the correct side (usually the same side as the eddy line).

Same process for ferrying to inside corners, avoiding rocks, and exiting eddies.

Or sometimes, like Foxytrotter mentioned, there will just be a narrow gap in a snag the canoe can be squeezed through. It gets kind of exciting doing this at full speed when you're not sure until the last possible second if you're even going to fit for sure or not.

Alan
 
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Another good sit and switch game is to hug the shoreline of a complex lake without correction strokes, just by twitching your butt for the proper lean for turning. Making the turns tight enough to have to lean on an outside low brace (very useful for coming to shore sideways) is fun and impresses the shore people.
As I solo almost exclusively in fast boats (Wenonah), I don't know how effective this is for boats with rocker. But it sure opens up opportunities for straight keeled boats which don't respond well to flat turns.
 
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A good exercise to demonstrate your skill & ability with same side paddle control is to find a rectangular or square shaped dock or raft. bring your canoe perpendicular to the dock, holding your bow to within a constant 2 inches without ever bumping or touching it. Stay paddlling on one side only, while traveling sideways around each corner, maintaining the 2 inch bow distance and perpendicular orientation from each side of the dock as you travel around it. Not only for when sitting centered solo, but also try when sitting in the stern of well trimmed C2. Then do it with a passive non paddling bow partner in a C2 blocking your view. Most fun to do when windy.
 
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A good exercise to demonstrate your skill & ability with same side paddle control is to find a rectangular or square shaped dock or raft. bring your canoe perpendicular to the dock, holding your bow to within a constant 2 inches without ever bumping or touching it. Stay paddlling on one side only, while traveling sideways around each corner, maintaining the 2 inch bow distance and perpendicular orientation from each side of the dock as you travel around it. Not only for when sitting centered solo, but also try when sitting in the stern of well trimmed C2. Then do it with a passive non paddling bow partner in a C2 blocking your view. Most fun to do when windy.
Why in the world would you have a non-paddling bow partner in your C2 to begin with ? 😜
 
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Why in the world would you have a non-paddling bow partner in your C2 to begin with ? 😜
It is someone to block your view, to test your depth perception on approaching and maneuvering to a dock or obstacle when they stop paddling. It's a skils test, maybe for when you have an unskilled bow paddler who stops paddling early with no skill on how to land and you need to continue maneuvering blind. Not an unuaual circumstance. I have seen that many times when I am training a new paddler during their guide training. Or when my unskilled wife is in the bow.
 
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