Accelerating Stroke

One important component of a forward stroke is having the blade run right along the side of the boat, pulling you efficiently forward. This paddle position minimizes the boats inherent desire to turn. Too much wag reduces your efficiency dramatically!

...Then Traveling Stroke

One important component of a forward stroke is having the blade run right along the side of the boat, pulling you efficiently forward. This paddle position minimizes the boats inherent desire to turn. Too much wag reduces your efficiency dramatically!

kayak stroke vertical

To eliminate wag, the optimum is a vertical stroke with the top hand quite high so the blade is closer to the boat. The vertical stroke label refers to the view from the front of the boat.

This vertical shaft position is ideal for acceleration. However, this position reduces the ease of harnessing power from torso rotation, and takes longer to transition to steering strokes. Once under way, you won't need so much verticality, but you will want your paddle blade in close to the boat.

kayak photo

The practical solution is a low, more horizontal stroke with top hand at shoulder to forehead level. This is more nimble and transitions easily into steering strokes.

Food for thought:

Experiment with a more vertical acceleration stroke and compare with the lower traveling stroke.

1. Which would you want making an attainment, climbing up a jet of current?
2. Which would you want in a real short boat?
3. Which do slalom racers use?
4. Which does a wildwater racer use?
5. What are other benefits of verticality?







Answers
1. Vertical
2. Vertical to accelerate, lower once underway.
3. Typically paddle in more vertical style because they are often accelerating and avoiding slalom poles with their top blade. Once underway they relax to lower style.
4. Wildwater racers typically use a lower stroke because the boat tracks easily and is not predisposed to turning like slalom or recreational boats.
5. Vertical strokes are also used to carve and maintain speed through a turn. Also, vertical strokes such as draws help avoid excessive and unplanned sliding and skidding on the water.