How crucial is silent blade entry?

2 months 2 weeks ago #34585 by d0uglass
I've been paddling surfski a little over a year. I've watched videos and I do my best to emulate a proper stroke, but I know I'm still quite inefficient. I'm looking for things to focus on improving, especially things where I can evaluate my success myself, since I'm most often paddling alone without access to coaching. 

One thing I can tell pretty easily is how much noise / splash I make on the blade entry / catch phase of the stroke. There's often a noticeable, percussive "shbloop" with each blade entry as water slaps into the concavity of the wing blade. But sometimes if I'm really careful and twist the paddle a little more in the air and "spear" a little more deliberately I can sneak the blade in without hearing and feeling the "shbloop". 

I guess my question is, how bad is "shblooping" and is it worth forcing myself to do shbloopless paddling? 

Stellar SEI 1g

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2 months 2 weeks ago #34591 by zachhandler
I am a self taught paddler without formal training but I have been paddling with a wing blade about 15 years. In my experience a silent catch is pretty important. The stroke will never be efficient if it doesnt start with a solid catch. Noise on entry (for me at least) means the catch is not as solid as it could be. Slowing the stroke at the front so the catch is clean,  and being paient yet firm throughout the powerphase,  is worth practicing to the point where it is habitual. 
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2 months 2 weeks ago #34595 by SurfskiEstonia
Good question! I think for an intermediate paddler aspiring to become advanced, this is very important.

Can You describe Your forward stroke technique as rules that You'd like to follow.

Mine are here (high elbow technique):1. sit up leaning slightly forward;2. the upper hand is on the level between nose and chin and it doesn't cross the spine line to the other side;3. the upper hand doesn't squeeze the paddle shaft (hand grip almost open), neither does the lower hand, which gives the opportunity for the blade to find it's optimal (designed) way in the water;4. the stroke should be short - entry as far as possible without the splash with a straight arm/ fixed elbow, then exit already before reaching the hip level;5. the paddle shaft should be as vertical as the boat width allows.I think it will be much easier to comment on the reasons knowing Yours, at least of me:)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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2 months 2 weeks ago #34606 by David Grainger
I think noise at the catch is a symptom of beginning to pull on the paddle/rotate before the blade is fully submerged. This injects air around the blade, which causes cavitation during the power phase of the stroke.  You may also hear gurgling during the stroke - a sure sign that power is being wasted!
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2 months 2 weeks ago #34616 by RedBack
^ What David said...
Cavitation causes the blade to lose its "lock" on the water, so you end up pulling the blade past the ski, rather than the ski past the blade.

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2 months 1 week ago #34618 by David Grainger
I never really got the idea of pulling the boat past the paddle blade vs pulling the blade past the boat.  Always thought it was BS - until one day I was practicing pause paddling on flat water, and started forcing myself to enter silently.  This was very slow boat speed, maybe 5mph, very slow cadence.  I finally got so I could do the silent entry reliably, and thought it would be fun to see if I could go faster while maintaining the slow pause paddle cadence with silent entry.  This forced me to power the stroke more with rotation, because I couldn't just flail away.  So I started putting more leg and lower body rotation force into it.  I was doing short intervals, stopping as soon as I started to hear splashing at the catch or gurgling during the stroke.  Next interval I looked down and I was going 8.1mph!  And, I really felt like I was pulling the boat past the paddle.  It was a completely different feeling from usual, using different muscles, and the paddle really did not feel like it was moving past the boat.  So, to answer the original question, I'd say it's definitely worth it to work on a silent catch!
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2 months 1 week ago - 2 months 1 week ago #34620 by Henning DK
You can discuss what is most important: silent entry, leg drive and rotation, early exit,... 
But the catch is: With correct silent entry, the others come naturally - without it, they don't.

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2 months 1 week ago #34624 by David Grainger

Henning DK wrote: You can discuss what is most important: silent entry, leg drive and rotation, early exit,... 
But the catch is: With correct silent entry, the others come naturally - without it, they don't.


It took me 206 words to say what you said more clearly in 31!
So, for advice in practicing, I'd recommend
1. Develop silent catch on mirror flat water, at slow cadence
2. Fix it into muscle memory so it happens automatically without thinking about it
3. Gradually increase cadence until you can sprint without losing it

Then take it into waves, and repeat all 3 steps
I still have to think about it when I'm sprinting to catch waves.
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2 months 1 week ago #34638 by SurfskiEstonia



(it's easy to say silent catch is important and very difficult to achieve it in the correct form)


My suggestion would be to try to keep the upper hand with open fingers and the lower hand as loose as possible. Never squeezing the paddle shaft with either hand will set the stroke to its most natural way.

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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2 months 3 days ago #34685 by manta
I usually paddle with ear buds.

Due to this thread I went sans the ear buds the other day to "listen" to my stroke. I realised very quickly there was a lot of sloshing when the blade entered the water.

It took me a while to get it to quiet down. What I noticed was I needed to lower my cadence but my speed did not really drop. I spent the next hour really focussing on a silent or quiet catch. It is not easy and clearly I have some bad habits that are ingrained in my stroke.

I think for the next while I will need to paddle without my ear buds and listen to my stroke and see if I am able to improve my stroke mechanics.

Thanks for brining this up. 

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1 month 3 weeks ago #34743 by d0uglass
Thank you all for your replies on this. Seems to be agreement that the silent catch is worth working on, but varying opinions on how easy it is to achieve in practice. (I love the Lord of the Rings meme as applied to this, btw.)

My experience as I continue to work on it, is that it's incredibly, frustratingly difficult to do consistently. It's much easier on my standup paddleboard with its flat, single-bladed paddle- I just remember to spear forward and down before pulling and it's perfectly quiet and it all makes sense and feels right.

I think part of my difficulty is getting the shaft twist / side-to-side angle of the blade correct during the entry. With a sup paddle, the flat face of the blade is always perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the board, at least until the exit. But with the wing blade kayak paddle (I have a Braca XI 705) I wouldn't know perpendicular even if I was looking straight at it because of how curved the blade is. And while I am trying to get the shaft as vertical as the width of the boat will allow, there is some angle... and there's kind of a dilemma of if I should be purely spearing in with no change in shaft angle at the entry, or if I there can be a bit of slicing in from the outside at the entry (knifing towards the boat with trailing edge of the wing as the leading edge of the knife) or a bit of slicing out from the inside (knifing away from the boat with the fat leading edge of the wing as the front of the knife). Obviously during the main phase of the stroke the leading edge of the wing knifes away from the boat.

It's also complicated by the fact that the boat is moving. Like, there has to be some pull as the blade goes in just to keep up with the water. So I feel like I not only have to get the general silent catch right, but I have to be able to change gears and timing to stay silent as the boat speed and cadence pick up, contributing to my "this is impossible!" feeling. 

I'd like to see a video (with audio) of someone getting the silent catch down right. 

Stellar SEI 1g
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1 month 3 weeks ago #34745 by waverider
Once you get the catch right the whole process seems smoother and I compare the motion to a monkey swinging smoothly from vine to vine with seemingly little effort, just feels more elegant

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1 month 3 weeks ago #34746 by SurfskiEstonia
D0uglass, glad You appreciated the meme. I just had to make it :)

I already repeated this twice, but gonna say it again in a form of a question:

Have You tried paddling with a really loose grip? Meaning that You literally open the upper hand (fingers don't touch the paddle shaft) and the lower (blade-in-water) hand has maybe 2-3 fingers max on the blade shaft (for me: definitely the middle finger and index/weddingring fingers lightly). With the lower hand the blade shaft is being kept there for the pull to be possible - the fingers are not gripping the paddle shaft into the palm, just holding enough to pull.

Why I stress this so much is I feel that is the easiest way for a self-taught paddler to understand the correct technique. I have had many lessons with several K1 coaches. Also discussed technique with young K1 athletes, which actually gave me more insight into the forward stroke technique than those lessons. On really stormy days I have to grip pretty hard on the paddle shaft, but when the conditions are milder and especially on longer paddling outings (15-25km) the loose grip is the key for speed and energy conservation.

So, D0uglass, how would You comment on this - have You tried this and what are Your thoughts? :)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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1 month 3 weeks ago - 1 month 3 weeks ago #34749 by Henning DK
I think we all have different issues, so some advice that makes sense to me may not be helfpul for others.
To me, it makes a lot of sense to pay attention, that the entry phase (catch) and the power phase are SEPARATE phases. The entry must be completed before any power is applied to the stroke, and the moment you apply power to your stroke, the entry is finished. So finish the catch properly, and then you can apply full power straight away.
If you apply power before finishing the entry, both phases wiill be disturbed.
One way to practise this it to first paddle without power (free-wheeling) and getting the entry in place, and then gradually apply more force to the power phase taking care that this does not disturb the entry.

 - And remember, power does not come from your arms, they only deliver. You must feel the power coming from your body rotation, all the way down to "standing" on your foot
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1 month 2 weeks ago #34812 by waverider
I had this "plopping" issue on one side only, my control hand. Turned out that I simply wasn't rotating as much on that side resulting in lower hand "stabbing" the catch rather than upper hand "spearing". Deliberately exaggerating the the rotation and loosing the grip fixed it instantly, 

Practice Oscars one handed catch drill, that will prevent you doing all the work with the same hand

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1 month 1 week ago #34819 by SpaceSputnik
My catch is much worse when I use my larger paddle, the Epic med mid wing. I do better the small mid (720cm2 Epic style blade). The larger blade and a heavier green shaft on the Epic make everything kinda clumsy which is annoying. Better for bracing but I find that's not enough reason to use it even in waves.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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