Go Big or Go Home......V8 to V14

3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #27459 by Aurelius
I was fortunate enough to find a bicycle shop that had some left over strips of handlebar tape that they were willing to give me for free. This tape is a bit thinner and doesn't absorb water like the tape I'd used previously. It proved to be a big success on my 7 mile paddle this morning: no finger pain or muscle fatigue at all, and the thinner tape resulted in a paddle shaft which fit my XL hands perfectly. B)

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3 years 9 months ago #27460 by Kocho
Good info and nice video!

On a separate note, and it is hard to say for sure from the video, but it seems you could relax your grip on the paddle shaft a bit. Especially at that pace (not sprinting) and flat water (no need for extra stability/support from the paddle) I would think you might want to be opening your fingers a bit rather than clutching the shaft firmly. Again, hard to tell from the video - you might already be relaxed, just wrapping your finger around, or you might be clutching hard... When I catch myself having a "death grip" syndrome, I experience the same symptoms you describe - pain in the bones, more fatigue. When I relax, or all goes away.

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3 years 9 months ago #27461 by Aurelius

Kocho wrote: Good info and nice video!

On a separate note, and it is hard to say for sure from the video, but it seems you could relax your grip on the paddle shaft a bit. Especially at that pace (not sprinting) and flat water (no need for extra stability/support from the paddle) I would think you might want to be opening your fingers a bit rather than clutching the shaft firmly. Again, hard to tell from the video - you might already be relaxed, just wrapping your finger around, or you might be clutching hard... When I catch myself having a "death grip" syndrome, I experience the same symptoms you describe - pain in the bones, more fatigue. When I relax, or all goes away.


I typically maintain a loose grip on the paddle shaft. The only time I squeeze it is during the power phase, and even then only with the low hand. I try to maintain what could be described as a "hook grip", meaning that I'm just pulling with my fingers, rather than applying equal pressure all around the shaft, as if I were trying to crush it. When sprinting, things are different; then I'm applying continuous pressure, and I don't let up until the end of the sprint.

One minor thing that might be worth adding about the bar tape is that it began to rub the inside of my left thumb. It didn't cause a blister, but it became uncomfortable after an hour. The abrasion is no doubt due to the fact that the tape has a rougher surface than the smooth paddle shaft. So to solve that problem, I changed my feather angle from 50 degrees to about 30 degrees, so that the shaft would no longer need to rotate in my left hand. All I needed to do is turn my wrist a bit. This solved the problem, though the change in feather angle took a while to get accustomed to. I know some people are using a feather angle of zero these days, so I may eventually want to give that a try.

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3 years 9 months ago #27462 by red_pepper
I generally use 30 degrees these days; I went to zero for awhile, but 30 seemed to be a good compromise that remains comfortable.

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3 years 9 months ago #27463 by downwinda
I had my paddle at 60 degrees and, usually after about 20 minutes of paddling, my right (control) hand would go numb due to carpal tunnel. When I changed it to 30 degrees, voila, no more numbness issues.

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3 years 9 months ago #27466 by Aurelius
I've been studying my most recent video (above), trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong. The first thing I noticed is that at times my paddle isn't fully submerged, which results in a loss in efficiency. I'll be paying much closer attention to that next time.

The second thing I'm not sure about. At first I thought I saw a problem in not fully extending my top arm, but after reviewing some instructional videos, I noticed that not everyone straightens the arm out completely; some paddlers punch their top hand forward like a boxer, while others maintain a slight bend at the elbow.

The blade seems to be too far out from the hull during the catch. Strange, because while I was paddling, it looked like the blade was close enough to scrape the boat. Maybe the fish-eye effect of the camera lens is exaggerating things.

The good news is that I finally seem to have gotten the leg drive figured out. In previous attempts, there was some variation when comparing the amount of pelvic twist from one side to the other; the worst example being where one leg would push while the other hardly moved at all. The timing now also seems to be right, with the leg drive starting just when the blade hits the water, not before.

I'm also extracting the blade just after my low hand passes my knee. Prior to this I had been keeping the blade in the water well past my hip.

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3 years 9 months ago #27468 by kwolfe
Your stroke seems to be flatter than mine. I think we talked about it once. The one plus about having a more vertical stroke is that it definitely aids in burying the blade better/easier.
My shoulders are used to the motion these days, and with the blade more vertical, I also find that I can engage my lats more which are far stronger than my rear deltoids for locking the blade in the water.

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3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #27471 by RedBack
Hi Aurelius,

You're certainly improving with every passing week!

If I may make some observations...

As Kwolfe has noted, you are perhaps a little low with your arm position.

A wing blade works best when it is closest to vertical. Low hands do not allow for a vertical catch and consequently, you lose the hydrodynamic lift that the wing should be generating.

To get the catch vertical, I'd recommend lifting your hands such that the path of your top hand is in-line with your eyes. Ideally the top hand should track across in front of your face parallel with the water and not drop too far toward the end of the stroke.

I've done a quick diagram.

The red line indicates the preferred height of (both) your hands at the end of the stroke (when your shaft is parallel with the water). The green line is the lateral finishing position of your top hand at the end of the stroke. The arrows indicate where your hands need to move to.



For that to work, your torso will need to rotate more.

The other thing (which is related to the first) is that your blade is dropping in quite short and as you've noted, it's not always fully submerged.

The blade should enter the water in front of your feet and be fully submerged by the time it reaches your ankle.

Seriously though, - paddling is one of the most complex bio-mechanical patterns to get right and it typically takes years to achieve a high level of proficiency.

You're doing pretty darn well!

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3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #27473 by Aurelius
Thanks again, Redback! Comparing my video to the instructional videos I've seen, I knew something was fundamentally wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it until I read your explanation.

When I paddle, I try to keep my top hand at eye level, but as you note, it drops down quite a bit during the power phase. I did notice that some elite paddlers (eg: Knut Hollmann) keep their top hand at roughly the same level all the way to the end of the power phase. Others don't do that, so I wasn't sure whether this mattered.

Now as far as the green line in your diagram is concerned, the reason I stop my top hand just after it crosses the center line of the ski is because that helps me keep my stroke short enough to extract the blade just after my low hand passes my knee. If I rotate further than what you're seeing, it results in lengthening my stroke, with my low hand traveling all the way to my hip. Stopping my top hand at the center line is just a temporary measure another forum member recommended to me. Once I get the basics right, I can work on increasing the amount of torso rotation, as you suggested.

The technique I'm trying to emulate is demonstrated by the Australian racing coach Jimmy Walker, in the video below (start at 1:35). Notice how little torso rotation Walker uses compared to other elite paddlers. I don't know whether his technique is the "best", but it's certainly the easiest for me to copy at this stage of my development.

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3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #27475 by Kocho
This guy is padding in "rough" water and is probably not the best example for full rotation as he is trying to balance stability and speed and maneuverability...

That competitor has a much more vertical stroke vs. yours, earlier and deeper catch, and a higher elbow on the pushing hand at the rear, when it lifts the paddle out of the water at the end of the stroke and prepares to orient it for the next stroke's catch (yours kind of hangs down a bit too long; I'm guilty of the same by the way, so I notice it - looses power). Also, I notice his fingers have a loose grip, yours seem to be constantly clutched over the paddle.

Your left hand in particular tends to dive down towards the end of the stroke. Look at the competitor's video - his front hand seems to "freeze" for a second at the end of the stroke as the pulling hand is completing the exit for the stroke. At the same moment, yours is diving down, which delays the exit of the paddle in the rear and tends to increase lifting water up instead of sliding the paddle out. That would tend to become more of a problem if you increase your cadence - you are paddling slowly, so that masks some of the negative effects, I think.

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3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #27476 by photofr
The last video shows a paddler on a surfski, but it's lifesaving, not "standard" surfski. Basically, that means POWER for 1.2 km. On a surfski (flat water or ocean paddling), you should be seeking: Power, endurance, and balance for 30+ km.

Using lifesaving paddling technique isn't feasible for us older people, or for people seeking "real" open ocean situations.

Added: goes along with what I just saw posted above.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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3 years 9 months ago #27477 by Aurelius

Kocho wrote: This guy is padding in "rough" water and is probably not the best example for full rotation as he is trying to balance stability and speed and maneuverability...


This business about trunk rotation is a tricky subject that I've been going back and forth on, trying to figure out just which muscles should be doing most of the work. In one of my experiments, I discovered that I'm capable of performing the entire power phase of the stroke using only leg drive, without twisting my trunk at all. As a cyclist for many years, my leg muscles at this moment are far stronger than my back muscles, so as a consequence I've been relying primarily on my quadriceps to pull the blade back; that's why you don't see my trunk twisting very much. That's also why Walker's technique interests me, as he seems to be doing the same thing I am.

Also, I notice his fingers have a loose grip, yours seem to be constantly clutched over the paddle.


No, my grip is actually pretty loose. I haven't developed the habit of flexing my fingers while paddling, so that's probably why it looks to you as if I'm continually squeezing the paddle shaft.

Your left hand in particular tends to dive down towards the end of the stroke. Look at the competitor's video - his front hand seems to "freeze" for a second at the end of the stroke as the pulling hand is completing the exit for the stroke. At the same moment, yours is diving down, which delays the exit of the paddle in the rear and tends to increase lifting water up instead of sliding the paddle out. That would tend to become more of a problem if you increase your cadence - you are paddling slowly, so that masks some of the negative effects, I think.


Yes, the diving down of my hand was noticeable to me even before reviewing the video; it's something I've been aware of for quite some time. I've tried to keep my hands level throughout the stroke as RedBack mentioned, but that feels very awkward, and I lose power doing it. To get a better idea of what's going on, what I really need is a video taken from the side rather than just from the front.

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3 years 9 months ago #27478 by Aurelius

photofr wrote: The last video shows a paddler on a surfski, but it's lifesaving, not "standard" surfski. Basically, that means POWER for 1.2 km. On a surfski (flat water or ocean paddling), you should be seeking: Power, endurance, and balance for 30+ km.


30+ km?? That's over 18 miles! There's no way I'd ever paddle that great a distance. 5 miles is more my style. And sprints are my favorite thing to do when paddling, so the faster I can go the better, even if it's only for 100 meters.

Using lifesaving paddling technique isn't feasible for us older people


Older people?! Speak for yourself Lodovic! LOL

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3 years 9 months ago #27479 by Kocho
Yup, "rotation" vs. "twisting". As someone with lower back issues, that is really important to me too and I too try to do that. Too much twisting as opposed to rotation usually results in lower back pain for me and I really miss the slippery surfski seat and ergonomics when I get in a regular seat on a sea or whitewater kayak...

When I run into stability issues on the ski I tend to revert to more twist than rotation. Plus I am not as flexible as the folks we see rotating sideways in sprint paddling - I can't physically do nearly as much leg drive as they can.

Thanks for posting the video - watching others be critiqued is quite helpful ;)

Aurelius wrote: This business about trunk rotation is a tricky subject that I've been going back and forth on, trying to figure out just which muscles should be doing most of the work. In one of my experiments, I discovered that I'm capable of performing the entire power phase of the stroke using only leg drive, without twisting my trunk at all. As a cyclist for many years, my leg muscles at this moment are far stronger than my back muscles, so as a consequence I've been relying primarily on my quadriceps to pull the blade back; that's why you don't see my trunk twisting very much. That's also why Walker's technique interests me, as he seems to be doing the same thing I am.

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3 years 9 months ago #27481 by Aurelius

Kocho wrote: Yup, "rotation" vs. "twisting". As someone with lower back issues, that is really important to me too and I too try to do that. Too much twisting as opposed to rotation usually results in lower back pain for me and I really miss the slippery surfski seat and ergonomics when I get in a regular seat on a sea or whitewater kayak...

When I run into stability issues on the ski I tend to revert to more twist than rotation. Plus I am not as flexible as the folks we see rotating sideways in sprint paddling - I can't physically do nearly as much leg drive as they can.


I'd asked about this before, and I think it was Ludovic who informed me that one of the reasons for the extreme angle of twist you see in K1 racing is because the hull is much narrower than it is on a surf ski, which allows a greater degree of twist to set up for the catch. In Hollman's videos, for example, I've noticed that he twists his torso so far around that his elbow actually lines up with his chin!

I can rotate that far if I really try, but it would be quite useless because that extreme angle of twist would take my paddle blade far beyond where it needs to be for the catch. In the typical case, what I've observed is that paddlers on surf skis rotate to the point where their wrist lines up with their chin, but no further than that. That's pretty much what I'm aiming for.

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3 years 9 months ago #27482 by photofr
It's time... it's time for you to pad your skis. Glue couple of Velcro strips (soft side) on the ski, and place couple of pads on there. I say it's time, because:
1. It will improve and promote a your rotation (feet will seem lower and bums will be higher)
2. It will set you up for success later (where you won't have to undo bad habits)
3. It will go a long way in preventing injuries (you'll be able to use your legs even more, without hurting your back... when you get old)

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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3 years 9 months ago #27483 by Aurelius

photofr wrote: It's time... it's time for you to pad your skis. Glue couple of Velcro strips (soft side) on the ski, and place couple of pads on there. I say it's time, because:
1. It will improve and promote a your rotation (feet will seem lower and bums will be higher)
2. It will set you up for success later (where you won't have to undo bad habits)
3. It will go a long way in preventing injuries (you'll be able to use your legs even more, without hurting your back... when you get old)


How will I know where to apply the padding?

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3 years 9 months ago #27484 by photofr
You'll know!
In the meantime, a general guide to position your seat pad:
1. Get an epic pad-set (it will match your ski)
2. Place 1/3 of the pad on the rise of the ski, and 2/3 of the pad on the flat part of your ski.
3. You'll be able to move it around a bit, since it's velcro that you will be placing on there.
4. Be sure to use a little bit of acetone to really clean the area of your ski (making sure there's no oil residue)

While I don't feel that their website explains it correctly, the pad set comes in a set of 3 pads. They are ALL different thickness, so there are 9 possibilities - and pretty much every one of them will have you thinking you are on a different ski.

CHEAP ideas are sometimes the best. Hope this helps you in your surfski ventures.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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3 years 9 months ago #27485 by kwolfe
Ever since I got my V14, I have been wanting to put a seat pad on my V8 to raise the seat slightly and alter the body position. On my V14, I feel like I can rotate better because my feet are slight lower and it sits me a bit more forward.

I'm so stable on the ski that I'm not at all worried about the affect. As far as leg drive goes, I think people need to make sure that they are not rotating for the sake of rotating. I know this may go against the grain a bit, but I have noticed that the most crucial part of the leg drive is right at the time when the blade is pretty anchored in the water. That explosive moment is what really generates speed.

Besides that, the rotation then more serves the purpose of ensure you have good reach for the next catch.

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3 years 9 months ago #27486 by photofr
Another way of looking at it is:
You can walk all day on two legs, using (mainly) leg muscles to carry your weight.
You can't do push ups all day using just your arms.
If you want to paddle more efficiently, using less arms and more legs, to paddle greater distances at higher speeds, you WILL have to use your legs, and therefore will have to work on proper rotation.

Rotation may give you a little more reach, but I feel that it's more important to note that it gives you tons more power when done properly.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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