× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

Paddle Faster

3 years 12 hours ago #26985 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster

MAS wrote: Thinking what you saying here: I'm unconsciously worried about stability of my Viper 48 even if actually has pretty solid secondary stability while initial is very different to what I'm used to. So I try to keep it stable. BUT it means that I do not dare to paddle it at full effort. Rather that swimming I simply stop applying power when I'm (about) to rock the boat. Thus I'm not close to swimming, not even in a need of bracing, but I just constantly lose my rhytm because stopping or lessening application of power. Is this what others are experiencing too when learning to paddle an unstable boat or some simply paddle hard and brace / swim as needed?


Absolutely. My top speed isn't limited by my strength, but by my ability to deliver that power without overturning the ski.

Agree that slowing down paddling cadence is key to good technique if not for the fitness development. My trouble is how to then work the fitness. I have relatively high level of aerobic fitness from running and cycling and thus need high effort paddling to get heart rate up at all.


I have the same problem. I've been cycling hard for the past six years, so I'm not getting much of a workout at all when out paddling. I don't see how that's going to change until my paddling technique improves to the point where I can put out some serious effort without risk of rolling over.

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3 years 10 hours ago #26986 by MAS
Replied by MAS on topic Paddle Faster
Photofr, thanks for giving some ideas for the training. My bracing has been instinctive whenever I have needed it with my Viper, but since I have not been ever training it perhaps my subconscious mind is not "trusting" it. I paddle mostly in a relatively small lake, so mostly flat or small 1 - 1,5 foot chop, however what ups the stakes is that Viper is sprint K1 style kayak NOT ski. Thus if I swim there is no remounting but swimming to shore. Even if I paddle close to shoreline there are many places around the lake where swimming to shore does not help since I cannot get back to Viper easily without a dock or solid sandy bottom. Winter is coming and water temp is going down, about 14C now soon closer to 4C so swimming is not much fun anymore.

I'm 45 so not learning the balance skills is not as easy as for juniors. My paddles are Epic SM and M which I use rather short 207-210 so getting the cadence up is not an issue.

Aurelius wrote: I have the same problem. I've been cycling hard for the past six years, so I'm not getting much of a workout at all when out paddling. I don't see how that's going to change until my paddling technique improves to the point where I can put out some serious effort without risk of rolling over.

That's where it helps to have my stable Epic 18XS. It took a while after I started paddling to get my upper body muscular endurance up and learn technique but now I can easily get my heart rate up to the anaerobic threshold and keep it there for an hour without technique collapsing. Reason for losing my fitness has been simply fully focusing on Viper rather than keeping paddling also the Epic. With Viper I can get my heart rate only close to aerobic threshold on a good day which isn't really helping with endurance unless I keep it there for +1,5 hours minimum.

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3 years 7 hours ago #26987 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
I am sure that many possibilities exist. Perhaps you can cut the par in half:
Paddle the 18x to get your workout - something like 10k, pushing yourself at about 80-90%.
Then drink some water, relax for couple of minutes, and get into the Viper: focusing on:
- short paddle strokes (everything up front)
- Shorter yet
- Low wattage (think of it as if you were caressing the water)
- Bracing (for no reason at all)
- Looking far ahead

Obviously, you'll want to choose the calmer days.

Again, not certain that this is THE solution, but perhaps it's one worth trying.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: ShaneS

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3 years 6 hours ago #26988 by Midlifecrisis
Replied by Midlifecrisis on topic Paddle Faster
photofr thanks for your insights. I think everyone appreciates your input.

A quick question, if you are slowing down your stroke to improve technique would you change your paddle length? It seems natural to me to move to a slightly longer paddle length (much like a bigger gear) when you slow down your stroke rate, but maybe that isn't right.

What are your thoughts?

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2 years 11 months ago #26998 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
That's a tough question, that I cannot really answer.
There are so many variables, so many reasons why you would want to reduce the length of your paddle, and just as many reasons as to why you would want to increase paddle length. It will depend on distance paddling, wind, swells, your fitness at the time, working on skills to emphasize something, ... and the list goes on.

Perhaps someone else can give you better feedback there. I have been playing with paddle length of a while, and while it's been fun, and USEFUL, I am going to now go with a fixed paddle length to favor super light weight. For this, I am paddling a shorter paddle, and still debating... but it seems to be working well (for me). I am almost ready to dish out 300 euros for the fixed one. :)

Perhaps, the only answer I can give you: it's not necessary to change your paddle length, but may be useful.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 11 months ago #27002 by MAS
Replied by MAS on topic Paddle Faster
My 5 cents on paddle length (from a novice): In my search for speed with my Epic 18XS I had upped the cadence and shortened the Epic SM wing all the way to 205 (for a 177 paddler) to facilitate higher cadence. It worked for speed because I was able to shift need for muscular strength to aerobic conditioning. I was then also asked to slow down by a more experienced paddler, he saying that I was sacrificing technique for the cadence.

When I slowed down I noticed that keeping a decent speed and "feeling" for the water I needed to lengthen the paddle. Now 208-211 depending on the boat I paddle.

Perhaps one way to see this is that you should have paddle length and blade size that allows for a a cadence of about 30-32 double strokes for a relaxed / low effort cruising?

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2 years 11 months ago #27003 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
Higher cadence is good, great even: I know that I can paddle very fast with a super high stroke rate per minute, however, my technique becomes TOTAL CRAP, it looks horrible, and my stroke isn't even efficient. I literally move water instead of anchoring my paddle.

In my ever-going search for better efficiency, I am looking for technique: more glide per stroke instead of simply high RPM (rounds per minute ahahahah). A world champ paddler will have all 3 (high cadence, power, and technique), but the average Joe may be lucky if he or she has good technique past 80 strokes per minute.

I now use high stroke rate in two situations:
1- To see at what point my technique goes to [email protected]^#%T.
2. To get onto a run (that I otherwise wasn't going to catch)

I am not proud of my high cadence. It's horrible, but it generates speed in a hurry. I call it the "poor man's way".

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 11 months ago #27006 by Midlifecrisis
Replied by Midlifecrisis on topic Paddle Faster
Separating the two issues (cadence versus paddle length), when would you decrease or increase paddle length?

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2 years 11 months ago #27012 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
I am not sure if I understand your question, but here’s some info on paddle length. Perhaps you can pick and choose what you like or need.

• A longer paddle is usually needed for larger crafts.
• Fast stroke rate is a LOT easier with a shorter paddle.
• A shorter paddle is preferred for preserving your joints, or preventing injuries.
• A longer paddle generally will feel like a great muscle workout, while a shorter paddle will promote more blood flow (higher heart rate) – or at least, that’s how I see it.
• Strong winds affect a longer paddle more. It’s also much easier to use a “very short” paddle up wind.
• Rough seas can make a longer paddle feel cumbersome.
• Everything being equal, a longer paddle will be heavier, and you’ll feel the weight after say 10k strokes.

Keep in mind that having said all that, you don’t need a paddle to move your surfski or kayak on water: using your hands will work just fine, and I guarantee that you will even be able to move forward if you are using nothing but a broom stick.

I guess the point is that we look for a well-designed paddle only because we are seeking more efficiency for a given effort. We might as well try our best to seek an appropriate paddle size and length for our size, needs and conditions.

How important is paddle length?
It’s important, but not as important as proper technique. I will recommend that you set your paddle to an approximate correct length, and leave the fine tuning of your paddle length alone. Instead, work on technique first. In time, you’ll go back to this post and seek others so that you can get a little more efficiency out of each stroke, in varying conditions.

As mentioned a little while back, I am actually opting for a fixed paddle length for next season. Frankly, my deciding factor was a compromise, but I got tired of fiddling with paddle length based on the day’s conditions. I have been paddling for about 2 months using (once again) a fixed length on a vario shaft, and I feel really good: speed, lack of muscle and joint pain, yet always feeling satisfied about the workout. I went shorter.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: seajak, Aurelius

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #27013 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster
I just wanted to express my gratitude for your participation on this forum, Lodovic. I've probably learned more from reading your postings over the past two weeks than I have in five years of paddling. :-)

I think yesterday's effort was my best yet in terms of technique. Leg drive has now become so natural for me that I don't even need to think about it any longer. That left me free to focus on other things like stretching my arms out for a more forward catch, and keeping them as straight as possible when pulling back. My balance has also improved, so now there's less rocking of the boat as I twist my torso. One my balance gets good enough, I'll go back to practicing in the less stable SR.

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2 years 11 months ago #27015 by kwolfe
Replied by kwolfe on topic Paddle Faster
You are really making good progress quickly. From the first video until now is far better in terms of not only your leg drive, but the catch is much further out, and stronger. Great job. Funny but the one thing I found that helps with the hip rotation is a little water in the bucket to help make it a bit slick. That and some lycra shorts. I know they display the twigs and berries but the are very comfy when rotating.

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2 years 11 months ago #27017 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster

kwolfe wrote: You are really making good progress quickly. From the first video until now is far better in terms of not only your leg drive, but the catch is much further out, and stronger. Great job. Funny but the one thing I found that helps with the hip rotation is a little water in the bucket to help make it a bit slick. That and some lycra shorts. I know they display the twigs and berries but the are very comfy when rotating.


In previous videos, I was wearing my Lycra cycling shorts for that very reason. What I discovered though is that the material of my swim suit actually slides better on the seat. I've been doing a lot of experiments trying to increase my hip rotation, including practicing in a swivel stool and changing the position of the foot boards, but I can't get my hip joints to rotate any further. It's a shame because I have very strong thighs from cycling which I could put to better advantage with more hip rotation, but my joints will only go so far.

I just ordered a Swiss ball, as someone else suggested, so I can practice balancing on it when I'm not paddling. If I can learn to balance a ski like I can a bicycle, I'll be that much closer to my ultimate goal of being able to paddle a K1. :woohoo:

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2 years 11 months ago #27018 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
@Aurelius:
I may have a good drill for you, coming up on Facebook.
Stay tuned to the page www.facebook.com/nelosurfskifrance and keep an eye out Monday or Tuesday for Hints #104.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 11 months ago #27021 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster

Aurelius wrote:

kwolfe wrote: You are really making good progress quickly. From the first video until now is far better in terms of not only your leg drive, but the catch is much further out, and stronger. Great job. Funny but the one thing I found that helps with the hip rotation is a little water in the bucket to help make it a bit slick. That and some lycra shorts. I know they display the twigs and berries but the are very comfy when rotating.


In previous videos, I was wearing my Lycra cycling shorts for that very reason. What I discovered though is that the material of my swim suit actually slides better on the seat. I've been doing a lot of experiments trying to increase my hip rotation, including practicing in a swivel stool and changing the position of the foot boards, but I can't get my hip joints to rotate any further. It's a shame because I have very strong thighs from cycling which I could put to better advantage with more hip rotation, but my joints will only go so far.

I just ordered a Swiss ball, as someone else suggested, so I can practice balancing on it when I'm not paddling. If I can learn to balance a ski like I can a bicycle, I'll be that much closer to my ultimate goal of being able to paddle a K1. :woohoo:


Keep in mind that on a wider ski, you can only twist "so much". Past a point, it's counter-productive since your blade must enter the water12 to 16 inches away from the center of your ski. On K1 flat water racing kayak, you can rotate with more ease, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that your blade will enter the water something like 6 to 8 inches away from the center of your kayak.

There are a lot of great improvements in this last video. Before introducing new things to work on, you should just keep at it for another 3 or 4 sessions. Perhaps your next step is "form" - where you want to bring those knees in closer together. This will do two things:
a) add stability
b) add power

ENJOY!

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #27026 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster

photofr wrote: Keep in mind that on a wider ski, you can only twist "so much". Past a point, it's counter-productive since your blade must enter the water12 to 16 inches away from the center of your ski. On K1 flat water racing kayak, you can rotate with more ease, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that your blade will enter the water something like 6 to 8 inches away from the center of your kayak.


Good point! I've never seen a K1 in person, and wasn't aware that they were so skinny.

There are a lot of great improvements in this last video. Before introducing new things to work on, you should just keep at it for another 3 or 4 sessions. Perhaps your next step is "form" - where you want to bring those knees in closer together. This will do two things:
a) add stability
b) add power

ENJOY!


I tried bringing my knees together, but it only caused the ski to roll with every stroke. The only way I can see to prevent that is to put pads on the insides of the gunwales so that I can pull my knees in while maintaining contact with the hull.

Oh, one other question I had. If you watch elite paddlers in the various videos posted here, you'll see that they start to pull the blade out of the water at roughly the point when their hand passes their knee joint. That feels wrong to me, so I keep my stroke going until my hand reaches my hip joint. There must be some reason not to do this, but I can't see what it is.

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2 years 11 months ago #27029 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster
I wanted to try something a little different this morning to see whether my technique would fall apart under full power. It certainly didn't feel good while I was paddling, but it doesn't look as horrible in the video as I expected.

I can't believe how limited the V7 is in terms of efficiency. It's OK at speeds up to about 6 mph, but anything significantly over that feels like you're paddling a barge! I'm surprised I didn't tear a muscle doing this. :ohmy:

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2 years 11 months ago #27034 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic Paddle Faster
Get someone taking a video of you from the side: you'll notice that your blade does two things:
- It's going past your waist, in full power
- It's actually slowing you down

When ever your blade goes past your waist, the angle of the blade changes, and lifts water. Lifting water causes your bow to sink in, thus creating even more resistance. In simple terms, a paddle behind you feels powerful, but slows you down.

I agree, the V7 feels great at slower speeds, but really feels like it's pushing water at higher speeds. However, with proper technique, and with your leg strength, you should be able to realistically get your V7 at between 14 and 16 km/h. This won't happen over night, and I advice you not to try: it could harm your technique, and worst: it could tear-up your shoulders.

If you have this "need for speed", then at least try this:
Literally lift your blade out of the water before it gets to your waist.
Your current paddle stroke in the last video was somewhere around 60 strokes per minute. You should be going at 90: in other words, use very short strokes and be "quick on your feet".

I'll say it again though: you could be demonstrating good technique, but the second you sprint, everything goes out the door - and that's not what you want when you are looking for muscle memory.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: ShaneS

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2 years 11 months ago #27038 by Flowmaster
Replied by Flowmaster on topic Paddle Faster
Spot on Ludivic and again very helpfull.

...ooooO...................
...(.......)......Ooooo....
....\.....(.......(.......).....
.....\.__)........)...../.....
...................(__./......
JUST LEAVE FOOTPRINTS

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2 years 11 months ago #27039 by Aurelius
Replied by Aurelius on topic Paddle Faster

photofr wrote: Get someone taking a video of you from the side: you'll notice that your blade does two things:
- It's going past your waist, in full power
- It's actually slowing you down

When ever your blade goes past your waist, the angle of the blade changes, and lifts water. Lifting water causes your bow to sink in, thus creating even more resistance. In simple terms, a paddle behind you feels powerful, but slows you down.

I agree, the V7 feels great at slower speeds, but really feels like it's pushing water at higher speeds. However, with proper technique, and with your leg strength, you should be able to realistically get your V7 at between 14 and 16 km/h. This won't happen over night, and I advice you not to try: it could harm your technique, and worst: it could tear-up your shoulders.

If you have this "need for speed", then at least try this:
Literally lift your blade out of the water before it gets to your waist.
Your current paddle stroke in the last video was somewhere around 60 strokes per minute. You should be going at 90: in other words, use very short strokes and be "quick on your feet".

I'll say it again though: you could be demonstrating good technique, but the second you sprint, everything goes out the door - and that's not what you want when you are looking for muscle memory.


All good points, Ludovic. As I may have mentioned, the whole idea behind that short sprint was to see if I can now do the things I've been practicing without having to think my way through the movement. It turned out much better than I expected, although the ski was rocking so much that it screwed up my leg drive in a couple of places. I definitely won't be trying that on the SR!

From now on my task will be practicing the short stroke at a modest speed until it becomes natural; then I'll increase the cadence and see what happens.

It's very hard to believe at this point that I could ever reach 14 to 16 kph in a slug like the V7, but I recall thinking the same thing when I first started cycling and was the slowest rider out there. Two years later, I was breaking records. B)

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2 years 11 months ago #27041 by LaPerouseBay
Replied by LaPerouseBay on topic Paddle Faster
^ Well, if you are a record holder in cycling, then you will understand this analogy. I think of skis and I think of smooth, effortless spinning, with a calm upper body. Not only on a road bike, but on a track bike. Not only a track bike, but a pursuit bike, in full aero position, spinning 90 rpm, not deviating from the black line, all power right thru the sit bones, balancing the upper body on the elbows and hands. Very tough to do. Pros make that look easy. They do it by drilling their form for years and years. It looks effortless because they are using the bones, ligaments and tough connective tissue to carry as much load as possible. That's why they don't wobble. That's how they balance. It's all about balance first, first, first. If you can't balance, you can't make power. THEN, the speed comes. That's how skis work. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I got in my first elite boat. "Man this thing has serious speed potential, but it's just like on the track. Absolutely useless if you break form..."

I've had lessons from 4 pros, including Oscar and Zsolt. I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet about Aurelius's vids, but his top hand is dropping. All the pros told me that this is a fundamental error.

Aurelius, stop staring at your garmin. You should be looking up at the horizon. Your posture is suffering because of it. Think of a string holding up your skull, straight up. Posture is just as important on a ski as it is on a bike. As in, it's EVERYTHING.

Ok, now that you are looking up, your head is on top of your spine (not craning forward), watch your top hand. It should go horizontal. As in - across the horizon. Not drop down like yours does. Very common error. Don't worry too much about the elevation, Oscar usually has low hands on long races. Sprinters have high hands. Do whatever feels most comfortable. But keep that top hand level, use the bottom hand to lift the blade out.

Sit up tall like Ludo in his avatar. See how his shaft is parallel with his chest? He just lifted the blade out with his lower hand. His top hand was at that elevation the entire stroke after submerging the blade. Try to do that before pulling hard on the blade. Paddling hard slouched is like running, leaning backwards...

downwind dilettante

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