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

Paddle grabbing enough?

1 year 5 months ago - 1 year 5 months ago #32552 by firtree
I am a pretty new paddler with an S18S and an Epic Small Mid wing paddle. I keep reading about feeling like your paddle is in cement or rock-solid, but I just don't get that feeling and wonder if I am doing something wrong. If I am pushing hard to get up to speed I quickly overpower the paddle and cavitate, but even when I am just cruising along, I don't feel a lot of pressure on the paddle. The paddle just feels like it is pulling nice and smooth through the water. To be clear, I am not unhappy with my speed over water (I am doing an unimpressive 5mph average over an hour), but something seems off. If it matters, I am 6' 220lbs and reasonably strong, though without the best endurance. I am working on getting and keeping my stroke rate up higher to keep me moving along at speed.

Thanks!
firtree

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1 year 5 months ago #32553 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
Hi Firtree,
If you're getting cavitation behind the paddle, that sounds like your plant is incomplete before you begin to pull, which would lead to air being pulled in behind the paddle and cavitation.

If your blade is properly buried in the water before the power phase begins, it should be nearly impossible to cavitate the water. Just look at Olympic K1 paddlers as a peak-of-performance example.

I have a small-mid paddle and generally cannot overpower it as a fairly fit and strong mid-30's paddler. My guess is that your stroke mechanics are the culprit, not the paddle. As a new paddler, we all have problems with our stroke, so I'd recommend investing in a coaching session if you can swing it, or if not just watch a bunch of Olympic paddlers and try to think about what you are doing differently and how to emulate their stroke.

Here's my favorite stroke mechanics video


And this is extremely useful as well:


And the great O talking paddling and stroke:

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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1 year 5 months ago #32556 by firtree
Replied by firtree on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
This is good feedback. Thanks. I suspect that my form has a number of rough spots since I am self-taught. When I go out this weekend I will try focusing on burying the paddle fully and see how that feels.

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1 year 5 months ago #32571 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
These suggestions may be obvious, apologies in advance:
- for practice take a very short pause at the end of the stroke just before starting the next (planting the blade into the water), use that to focus on the movement ahead of you
- try delaying the pull more and more so you get a feel for when is too early vs when is too late
- change the feather angle, a few months ago I had the best blade entry at 30 degrees (better than at 15 or 45). I wanted to get to 45 and it took some practice. One side was better than the other also...
- use your ears (in flatwater) to hear the entry and learn to recognize the clicking sound that entraining air makes, this way you can correct yourself without looking

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1 year 5 months ago #32576 by ErikE
Replied by ErikE on topic Paddle grabbing enough?

firtree wrote: I am a pretty new paddler with an S18S and an Epic Small Mid wing paddle. I keep reading about feeling like your paddle is in cement or rock-solid, but I just don't get that feeling and wonder if I am doing something wrong. If I am pushing hard to get up to speed I quickly overpower the paddle and cavitate, but even when I am just cruising along, I don't feel a lot of pressure on the paddle. The paddle just feels like it is pulling nice and smooth through the water. To be clear, I am not unhappy with my speed over water (I am doing an unimpressive 5mph average over an hour), but something seems off. If it matters, I am 6' 220lbs and reasonably strong, though without the best endurance. I am working on getting and keeping my stroke rate up higher to keep me moving along at speed


If your paddle blade is stalling i.e. sliding backwards considerably (not just compared to the forwards moving boat, but compared to the water), with turbulence forming on its forwards facing side, when you are paddling a constant speed, that would be a reason to worry - either bad technique or too small paddle blades. However, this happening during strong acceleration, esp. acceleration from very slow speeds, is, I would say, perfectly normal. Also, I wouldn't worry too much if the blade doesn't quite feel like it's planted in cement as long as it doesn't stall. In fact, my experience is that if the blade feels like planted in cement, it might indicate the blades are too big.

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1 year 5 months ago #32701 by firtree
Replied by firtree on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
Thanks everyone for the feedback and suggestions. I think that I need some coaching because everything isn’t quite gelling. I need help transferring power from my legs through to the paddle properly.


Can anyone in the PNW recommend someone in the Seattle area I could reach out to?

Thanks!
Firtree

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1 year 4 months ago - 1 year 4 months ago #32778 by PeteCress
Replied by PeteCress on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
One potential pitfall (which Bob Twogood pointed out to me) is beginning your pull before the paddle is fully inserted.

Bob describes insertion as like "Spearing Fish": you slip it into the water, but do not pull... once it is fully planted, then you pull.

Tangentially, when I took a several-day-long swimming course from some guys working for Total Immersion, the emphasis was on perfecting one's stroke and not speed. The idea was to totally master the stroke and, only then, work on how many time per minute you can turn it over.... seems to me like this would apply to paddling too.

FWIW, here are the notes I took from Bob Twogood, and from Greg Barton.

Reviewing them now, I find myself gravitation to Barton's.

Twogood’s Wing Paddle Technique
Bob likes to listen to catch & finish and try to keep them quiet even with power on when doing sustained speed work.
The faster you go the shorter the stroke. Olympic sprinters: stroke starts ahead of feet, power done by ankle, blade leaving water by knee! In fact, there is talk about no power stroke at all: just the catch. The blade acts as if it were thrust into the water and bounced back. No pull, just power in and release.
Be sure to use a lot of power from the top hand. Use top hand to snap the blade in. Then, when the blade is buried, continue to drive across with the top hand. More pressure with the top hand gives more leverage with the trunk and gets more power to the water.

You can only concentrate on one aspect of technique at a time.
Training Techniques
• Straight-arm paddling.
• Pause & do "form check"
Windup
• Cock rear shoulder back
• Continue rotation after paddle exits - setting up for next stroke
• Elbow leads
• Elbow up - head height
• Extend & relax fingers
• Twist hips
Catch
• Drive blade into water (Note: "Spearing fish" - motion of blade creates lift forward)
• Push w/leg
• Top hand pushes @same rate as rotation (Note: Too fast gives 'futile' feeling)
Power
• Drive w/leg
• Lower elbow stays straight
• Power from stomach (Note not arms or shoulders. This gives added benefit of lowering one’s center of gravity.)
• Top hand pushes straight - but across boat; this prevents generating side force.
Exit
• Dump water from blade by starting shaft twist.
• Exit MUCH earlier
• Lead out w/elbow higher than hand


Greg Barton
Tendonitis is the big one that many newer paddlers have trouble with. The prevention is:

1. Loose grip (push with the base of the thumb and pull with a 'hook' in the hand, not a death grip)

2. Clean technique. Work on a quick, quiet catch without any noticeable 'pounding' of the paddle into the water, and smooth pull on the paddle. I like to tell beginners to 'sneak up on ducks'. The stroke should be that quiet and smooth.

Work on smooth and build the power - don't start out by doing nothing but sprinting and hammering.

A wear and tear region that flatwater kayakers seem to agree on is in the tailbone region if the seat is improperly padded. Don't sit directly on glass or plastic, and cut out for the tailbone if needed.

I like to listen to my catch and finish and try to keep them quiet even with power on when doing sustained speed work.

One thing to note, the faster you go, the shorter the stroke. If you check on the true Olympic sprinters, the stroke starts ahead of the feet, the power is done by the ankle, and the blade is leaving the water by the knee! Now, that takes real power.

In fact, there is some talk of there being no power stroke at all, just the catch. The blade acts as if it is thrust into the water and bounces back out. No pull, just power in and release.

Be sure to use a lot of power from the top hand. Greg Barton describes the catch as 'stabbing fish'. Use the top hand to
snap the blade in. Then, when the blade is buried, continue to drive across with the top hand. More pressure with the top hand gives more leverage from the trunk and gets more power to the water.



The Basics: (per www.sfdj.com/fall/freedive/technique.html )
Your top hand stays high --neck to eye level, and forward. Both arms stay nearly straight at all times, particularly the top arm.
1. You reach forward, your top hand inserts the paddle blade completely into the water, and you gain propulsion by rotating your torso, the paddle actually heading away from the centerline of the boat by about 30 degrees---it heads out laterally, actually providing a significant brace with each stroke.

You do NOT use your arms to pull the paddle backwards along the centerline of the boat.

You end your torso rotation (the power source of your paddle stroke) by the time the blade reaches the area perpendicular to your body….it does not go further back.
2. You raise the paddle out of the water at the end of its stroke, and rapidly move it upwards to take on top hand position for the other side. This is the (SIC – rest of sentence missing from web page too…)
3. Normal paddling for good kayakers/surfski paddlers will involve turning over the stroke 90 to 120 times per minute----this is a cadence nearly identical in speed to the pedalling action of a road cyclist.

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1 year 4 months ago #32955 by eh.haole
Replied by eh.haole on topic Paddle grabbing enough?
One thing I played with today was attack angle of the paddle wing edge. Surely there's an ideal angle for the leading edge of the paddle (the top) to be, relative to its movement through water. I opened mine up a bit and felt more catch. I wasn't measuring my speed or anything though, just trying to get that wing edge to engage like a wing should

Haolewaiian kook & part-time stability tester

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