Paddle Like a Pro

Anyone who follows this blog knows that we have a few issues with paddling our canoe.  There aren’t many instructions that I have found online about how to get 3 people to paddle a canoe well.  But, I did run across a few videos that I wanted to share.  These are slow motion videos of some of the best kayak racers.  Since we typically use kayak paddles when racing, the technique should do well for us.

If you check around 3:13 you can see some tandem kayak action and around 3:40 there is some 4-person kayak action.  I’m definitely no expert in paddling technique so I can’t offer any “real” commentary on the video but I think that just by watching it, you can pick up a few key techniques.

You can definitely see how torso rotation plays a key part in developing power.  I also noticed how for most paddlers, the returning arm (the one that just finished the stroke) comes to a return point straight out in front, perpendicular to the body and then it crosses the body as the other arm finishes the stroke.  Yeah, you like my technical jargon there?  Basically, my advice is check out the videos, see how the pros do it then go try to mimic the same movements.  If you’re half as good as us, you’ll probably dump your canoe within 30 seconds.

Here’s one more video from a pro…


Good grief, we suck!

We went out on Saturday for a long training day and I really only had 2 goals, ride for 32 miles on hard pack trails and canoe with all 3 of us in a canoe for 1-2 hours.  The bike ride went fine, but when it comes to canoeing, we suck.


I really don’t understand it.  It seems that no matter how hard we try, or how smooth we try to paddle, we can’t go in a straight line to save our lives.  I will say that after about an hour, we did get slightly better.  I would say we improved to the level of, “We almost don’t suck.”  But then we’d get excited, lose concentration and zig zag or do circles for the next 15 minutes.  In the end, we could only maintain a track if I was steering from the rear using the paddle as a brake.

Ana and I have gone out a number of times before and everything seemed to go fine, we could maintain a track, we could even put in corrective strokes when we got slightly off course.  But once we get 3 people in the boat, it all falls apart.  And no, I’m not blaming Stu.  I think having 3 people really changes the dynamics of the boat and we haven’t figured out how to deal with this yet.  It definitely makes the boat more tippy.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any helpful information on the internet about paddling 3 people in a canoe using kayak paddles.  Pangea has some info on paddling for adventure races and here is a video clip from Ron Eaglin.

Locally, we are having a canoe paddling clinic that I think I’ll sign up for.  But I doubt it will be applicable to 3-person kayak style paddling.  So, if any of my 4 readers find any good information or videos on paddling, please send me a link.  Until then, we’ll keep providing the comic relief at our races.  Have the camera ready, because someone’s probably going to get wet.