Chalupsky´s paddling technique

8 months 2 weeks ago #30914 by malvina
Hello,

I recently watched on youtube Oscar´s surfski clinic in Mauritius (link below). In it, he strongly suggest a couple of changes to what I understand is the current technique being used as standard by most paddlers today. Specifically:

1- He advocates for 0 feathering of the paddle (as opposed to the 50 to 60 feather recommended by other experts and pros).
2- He recommends keeping elbows very low throughout the stroke (as apposed to the "chicken wing" or "ball under the armpit" approaches).

He provides very convincing arguments and I have started to gradually incorporate these changes into my stroke. They both feel quite weird at the beginning, thought I am sure with time they will become natural.

Anyway, his approach seem so different to other experts´recommendations and to what many paddlers have been doing for decades that I wanted to see if anybody has any comments on the benefits (or demerits) of these changes or any advice on transitioning to them.

Best

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8 months 2 weeks ago #30915 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Chalupsky´s paddling technique
I looked at a couple of vid's of Oscar paddling and when he's going at it his upper hand is at about ear level and his elbow at shoulder level or perhaps slightly below. When more relaxed his elbow drops a little below the shoulder. How different is that from the "standard" you mention?
For example,
or

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8 months 2 weeks ago #30916 by malvina
Hi Tve

I also find it difficult to see a huge difference when watching his paddling videos. However, in this clinic he seems to be making a clear point of keeping the elbow much lower than that (watch the vid starting at 29:45). He is actually the one making the point that his elbow is kept much lower than what most people have been doing. Interestingly, he mention that some athletes have started tying his forearm to his arm (in what seems like a very closed angle) to force the elbow to remain very low.

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8 months 1 week ago #30924 by LaPerouseBay

malvina wrote: Hello,

I recently watched on youtube Oscar´s surfski clinic in Mauritius (link below). In it, he strongly suggest a couple of changes to what I understand is the current technique being used as standard by most paddlers today. Specifically:

1- He advocates for 0 feathering of the paddle (as opposed to the 50 to 60 feather recommended by other experts and pros).
/


Oscar is a great coach. His classes are spendy and he has a ton of students. As for zero feather, you may want to re watch the video. I've not seen it in ages, and I'm not going to re watch it to find that section, but I seriously doubt he recommends all paddlers use zero feather.

As I recall, he says zero is ok - it won't hurt you - and it may work best for some people. But he does not say we should all work down to zero. As I recall, he's pretty high himself, 75 or so, something like that.

There are blazing fast people at zero. But it's wide open, highly individual. Get some coaching. Best money you will ever spend.

downwind dilettante

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8 months 1 week ago #30925 by malvina
Hello LaPerouseBay

Thank you for your comment, thought to be honest I am not quite sure what to make of it. You clearly don´t know what Oscar says in the video, but that doesn't stop you from thinking that I got it all wrong and that what I should do is to watch it again and to get more coaching. So, I will try to make it more clear. In the video, starting at 12:45, Oscar makes several unambiguous points about the use of feather:

- With wing paddles, it has become unnecessary to feather the paddle
- It is actually wrong to feather the paddle because it complicates our bracing stroke and forces unnecessary movements in our wrists
- He believes that we all use feather simply because somebody told us to do so and we are behaving like sheep (his words)
- He teaches all newcomers to use 0 feather on their paddles
- Changing the feather after many years is difficult because the moves are ingrained in our brain, so he advises to gradually lower it.
- He is gradually lowering the feather of his paddle with the objective of eliminating it completely.

I hope that refreshes you mind about what Oscar´s opinion on feather is.

I posted this topic to see if any expert paddlers have any insightful comments on why one of the most respected authorities in the sport of paddling has a view on an important technique issue that is radically different from what most paddlers are doing (and being advised) today.

Therefore, I am not asking for "of the top of your head" interpretations of what Oscar would have to say about this topic. He has made very clear what he thinks. It would be useful now to hear some intelligent comments as to whether other experts agree or disagree with this approach, why or why not, and may be some advice on making the transition. If you can do that, without patronising comments on my level of couching and without doubting my ability to understand a video lesson, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Best

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8 months 1 week ago #30927 by manta
Hi

I am new here and new to paddling in general so not an expert but here is my experience.

I have been paddling for around 6 months. I went for initial training in a Kayak and the first paddle I was given was highly feathered 60 degrees, possibly more. I hated it. I watched this very video and then as I had only paddled 2 or 3 times went to 0 feather. It was a night and day difference. I was able to paddle immediately better because the brace to me was now completely natural and I was able to stay in the boat.

I bought a surfski as I hate paddling on flat water and have been doing the things advocated in the Oscar video. I do the drills as he explained them and I still paddle with 0 feather. I don't know any different\better so I have no idea what I am missing.

I currently can only paddle at around 8km an hour and seem stuck there. Most likely something with my technique which I need someone to look at. My experience with trying to do it the Oscar way has been very positive. I have also started downwinding. I have not noticed a problem with an unfeathered paddle downwind although upwind it seems to be quite tough. I usually just shorten the paddle as short as it will go and then I can paddle upwind easier.

Please take my comments from whence they come, I am a complete newbie only paddling 6 months so I may be breaking every "rule" but so far it is going well and I am enjoying my paddling.

As an aside i started paddling due to having a shoulder injury and the lower elbows method caused me no pain and I was able to keep paddling.

M

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8 months 1 week ago #30928 by robin.mousley
I just checked with Oscar himself.

He is currently on 25 degrees and is working towards zero.

He confirmed that he teaches all newcomers to use zero.

"Just difficult for me to change back to zero after 45 years paddling".

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: owenw

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8 months 1 week ago #30932 by davgdavg
RE: feather angle- I think its important to keep in mind

1) According to him, he only paddles downwinds.

If the wind is at your back, feather angle won't make any difference and catching wind might even help.
For those of us that don't have the luxury of only paddling downwind, the difference is huge. Side-on wind it seems like a draw between the two.

2) If I am understanding what he is saying, he is completely wrong about the aerodynamics of a wing paddle. Regardless of what he says, the curve pushing through perpendicular to the wind causes a huge amount of drag. The slight curve is only slightly better than a flat object, and the negative space behind does also not help things. I'm not sure of the exact drag coefficients (someone here probably is), but I would guestimate the difference between a wing paddle flat on and slicing through the wind is something like 85-90% more efficient.

You need to get it cutting through the wind, which is why you feather it. Of course, he is probably only talking about downwind, in which case there is no forward drag like I said above.

3) Just because it is more difficult, doesn't mean it isn't more efficient. You can peddle a bike without clipless pedals just fine, but at some point the difficulty in learning to use them outweighs the ease of platform pedals. This is the same.

4) Again, to reference cycling, a tiny reduction in drag can make a big difference in time, especially over longer courses. It seems silly to do something relatively difficult like paddle an elite level ski or kayak, but not use a feather. Of course if you just want to paddle around for leisure and not go fast, that's another thing.

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8 months 1 week ago #30933 by insalt
My take on it is Oscar is promoting/ coaching surf ski paddling and more specifically downwind surf ski paddling. A flat water sprint or marathon coach would not coach this technique and if you did a sea kayak course you would get another perspective again. (You wouldn't teach a cross country runner to run with high knees and huge strides like a sprinter) He is proposing low arms to lower c of g and zero feather to facilitate bracing should you need it. If you watch his Millars run above he is not paddling (surfing) just as much as he is paddling hence a technically perfect flat water type technique is not required and a technique to facilitate better balance and ease of bracing may be more appropriate. Down wind is his thing and he freely admits he's not fond of flat conditions. Also Oscar's boat skills are at a level where he can adjust paddle length/ feather on the go to adapt to changing conditions, and to use the water to gain speed rather than paddling yourself to a stand still. Another good surf ski specific skill. A bit of a presumption here but I doubt he would punch into a 20 kt head wind for very long with zero feather (try it, it's not fun) he would probably adjust the feather up and then adjust back to zero again when turned back down wind. So horses for courses really. If you predominantly paddle downwind surf ski one of the masters would be worth listening to. It's only the elite that can beat him on a good down winder.

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #30935 by manta
All very interesting responses from people with a LOT more experience that me.

What I have also noticed is Oscar speaks in the video about changing paddle length. I have been doing that almost since I started paddling. So when I downwind the paddle is long and when I upwind I shorten it quite a lot. Also when I get tired I shorten it as it feels easier to paddle.

I will experiment with a slight feather the next time I upwind and see if that is also something you can change on the fly. As I don't really have entrenched muscle memory it may be something I can experiment with.

Clearly though guys with years and years of experience are really fast and stable so I don't think they should be changing anything. Why change a working system? For newbies like me perhaps there is merit in some of what Oscar is saying.

M

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8 months 1 week ago #30936 by Impala
Zero feather was systematically tested a couple of years ago already with German race paddlers. The issue was then discussed in the periodical of the German Canoeing Association, with the conclusion that actually nothing really important speaks against zero angle even for flatwater. It is just, as Oscar says, a tradition problem; all trainers are used to it and so never any beginner is put into a boat with a zero feather angle. Then the paddling of really tippy boats starts, and people have enough to do with these boats and thus do not want to start another headache.

There seems to be an ergonomic advantage of say a 30 degree feather. I do actually paddle zero, which leads to me overstretching my wrist if I paddle a steep style. If I change to 35 degrees, this changes, but then I have to change to 'one hand fast, one hand looses grip' at every stroke cycle, which is not nice for my seriously damages right wrist (I broke it some 25 years ago, and it had not healed well at the time). This bad wrist is actually the reason why I changed to zero. Zero with a flatter style is thus a bit easier, but that's about it, and surfski paddlers definitely use a flatter angle of entry.

I do not feel zero makes a noticeable difference upwind. The general handling advantages of zero are huge, to my feeling.

The kayaking community is not coherent on this, by the way. Sea kayakers using flat blades paddle with feather and defend this with the usual arguments, but when they switch to greenland paddles (that have profiled cross-sections, btw), they accept zero angle without much discussion (some claim that zero with greenland does not hurt much because greenland blades are allegedly used in a very flat paddling style, something I do not deem necessary).

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8 months 1 week ago #30937 by Ole
Replied by Ole on topic Chalupsky´s paddling technique
at the end, there is no golden rule - there are so many factors adding to the game - we are all different in size, strength, arm length, favorite conditions, boat width, etc...

I used to paddle at 60 degrees - always had wrist problems. Now I am down at about 15 degrees which works best for me (I was at zero already) unless it is very windy (side winds). Hence, I still paddle once a week with 30 degrees and 60 degrees for about 1 hour to not lose the skills completely for side/head wind conditions.

Ozean OSS3 SL, OSS4 SL, OSS1

Previously: Fenn Elite Glide, DD3 Albatross (2x), Vajda Hawx 43, Think Uno Max, Think Evo II, Epic V8, Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 sports

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8 months 1 week ago #30938 by feeny
I was fortunate enough to be at that very clinic in Mauritius although I didn't adjust my feather at that time. Then, again lucky as Oscar came past our club and spent a session on the water with our squad, emphasising the move to 0 feather.

I thought about it further (as Oscar himself encourages people to think about what they're being taught - a reason he quotes for why the majority of paddlers are at 60 feather to start with) -- and 0 feather does get rid of a movement (wrist) entirely. One less movement in an already complicated stroke is a good thing, it's had to argue against that alone. The second is no need to adjust the paddle face at 0 feather for a brace, so that's another movement (at a critical time!) entirely eliminated.

So, I decided to go for it. Over the past few months I've moved a few degrees or so at a time, went immediately from 60 to 45, then approximately 5 degree reductions every 1-2 weeks. Now at 0, I've been here a few weeks and will stay with it for a while.

No issues experienced paddling into the wind or downwind on 0.

The biggest issue has been adjusting the stroke to get a clean catch in all conditions. Was easy enough in flat, harder in rougher water.

Still haven't quite got the speed I had at 60, but I am sure it will come quickly - and am looking forward to a period of constant feather angle now, after so many weeks of change.

I've found every ocean ski coach I've had has encouraged a form of low elbow. That seems to be pretty constant, although how low does vary. Certainly all have suggested some form of top-hand elbow below the wrist/shoulder.

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8 months 1 week ago #30940 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Chalupsky´s paddling technique
Interesting thread!

WRT keeping elbows low, can anyone think of some videos that show that in action? Not someone showing it for demo purposes but a good paddler in full action with good strokes keeping a low elbow.

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #30941 by Impala
Look here for low elbows:



Michael Dobler at 2016 Ostseecup, at 7:20. He's among the top three in Germany.

Very efficient, relaxed and safe way of downwind paddling.

Edit: Uhm, maybe he just had heavy arms ... ??? :)

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8 months 1 week ago #30942 by Scode


Have a look at DG and Herman, very low elbows. No one is saying their flat water technique is great but they are two of the best all time down wind.

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #30943 by feeny
Clint Robinson at the Doctor is also a good example. His elbow height varies, but his top-arm elbow is never above either shoulder or wrist - at least to my vision.

And, his flat-water technique wasn't too shabby!

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8 months 1 week ago #30945 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Chalupsky´s paddling technique
Nice examples, thanks much!

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8 months 1 week ago #30953 by davgdavg

Impala wrote: Zero feather was systematically tested a couple of years ago already with German race paddlers. The issue was then discussed in the periodical of the German Canoeing Association, with the conclusion that actually nothing really important speaks against zero angle even for flatwater.

I do not feel zero makes a noticeable difference upwind.


Drag may be a complex thing, but what is not complex is multiplying the surface area into the wind by +-10x creates a huge difference in the drag generated by the paddle.

This is easily perceptible. If you can't feel the difference going upwind, maybe you aren't really going upwind? I honestly can't believe that it is not perceptible. Go swing a paddle perpendicular and then to it at 90 degrees.

Now, it might not make a difference in speed in a downwind, but in less than ideal conditions over more than a few meters, especially flat water, it has to make a difference. Its simple science that is easily observed.

Lastly, modern sports pretty much never rely on tradition anymore. Even in sports which have relatively low or non-existent participation (surfski being one of those. There are probably less than 5,000 paddlers worldwide I would guess), the competition is too much and people are always looking for whatever edge they can get. You had better believe that in the Olympics if a K1 paddler could go faster at 0 feather, they would. Or look at rowers- Do you think they tilt their paddles when in the upwind part of their stroke just for tradition? Of course not. Lets not be silly. Sorry to be the one to point out that the emperor is not wearing clothes.

Whether or not the difference is important personally is another matter.

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #30954 by Impala
Davdavg, I suggest you cool down a bit.

You say the emperor has no clothes. How brave of you to point that out! Your problem is that you see an emperor, and no one else.

No one claimed that you are faster with 0 feather.

And yes, I paddle almost no downwind and at least 50 upwind, because I always have to go back the same way as I went out. Also in most competitions where the upwind section sometimes was grueling 30 km.

Wind is no longer the major point, as otherwise feather would still be at 90° as in the good old times. But even most race paddlers use something around 45°. So that is ideal for headwind from half left or right, and otherwise sucks ...

An advantage of non-zero for a sprint paddler is ergonomics, as I tried to explain in a previous post.

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