Aug 30, 2007

Understanding fast optimal forward stroke - Part 2

The Part 1 was sent around for comments. Here is what I got;

Marcus Demuth recently circled Ireland among other kayak exploits. He is known for long journeys. He uses Werner paddle.
something I did not see mentioned, which is for me the #1 paddling/forward stroke think to know about an efficient forward stroke is the leg work. Push damn hard with your right leg against the footrest while making a stroke on your right, and same on the left side. In my world, the forward stroke happens to 60% inside the boat, and under the spray skirt (the leg work), and 40% is positioning of blade, body rotation, etc.

Marcus pointed out Eric Stiller's article from Mayor's Cup site.

Eric's points are;

The one thing I have done primarily right is to establish a fully body (foot to fingertip), torso rotating forward stroke. A stroke that continually evolves but is about 90% now. While I was aware of leg drive and torso rotation for about 20 + years, I was very happy to find the book "The Baron Mold” written by his coach and filled with excellent information and decent photos. I highly recommend you get a copy of it and EPIC kayaks DVD called "The Forward Stroke".

I have described high level sprint or marathon kayaking as hitting a T-shot with every stroke whereas the face of the paddle has a particular angle , connecting to the water at a particular speed , with a smooth delivery and follow through that is nearly as precise as hitting a golf ball with the face of driving club when done optimally.

Greg Barton has one of, if not the most efficient stroke among Olympic paddlers in paddling history. Once you establish this "high" gear you will be able to apply the basic mechanics to many different paddle angles for different distances, speeds, and conditions (like changing gears on a bicycle but the crankshaft stays the same.

Technique is 70% of the paddling performance equation and all the strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility, speed, and power training only fills in the 30%. (Good Equipment fit is given in this equation). A person with exceptional technique and moderate "fitness" will generally out perform and person with mediocre technique and high fitness.

Race speed, its cadence and the higher blade pressures put very specific demands on the body’s architecture. My torso could turn forever but the Triceps could keep up, hence a 5-10% loss of boat speed for the last 12 miles.

I had compounded this discrepancy by taking out my 212cm Epic Wing Sprint Blade for the event and joked to Greg Barton and Joe Glickman as they passed me (could I trade you for a "mid wing") a paddle with a smaller blade face. The added pressure per blade connection was not conducive to a race of this distance.

Bonnie of Frogma mentioned her blog entry "Of Paddles and Planes"

In this funny article, she loses you in airplane analogy but has some pithy points;
and if this whole aeronautical side trip is weirding you out, don't worry, my next post will be (er, at least if I don't get distracted) about my first lesson (taught by Turner Wilson) on how to actually PADDLE with a Greenland paddle!

a really good intro to the wing paddle, with excellent diagrams, by Olympic gold medalist Greg Barton, can be found here - found it while looking for images

Joe Glickman says in his article;

  • Your hands are an extension of your body," says Oscar Chalupsky. "If your body is stiff your balance is compromised. The key is to relax your body; move with the water, not against it. When in Hawaii, make like a hula dancer and roll your hips with the bumps."
  • Says Gardiner: "Experience is the best teacher of all. When the wind is blowing, force yourself to go out and get used to chop. Make sure you go with a partner, tether your paddle to your boat and paddle along the coast in case you flip.
  • "At the end of the day," says Chalupsky, "your technique will see you through the difficult conditions. The rougher the sea, the more you must concentrate on your style. Make sure you sit up straight. While you still want to concentrate on proper shoulder rotation, dropping your hands will lower your center of gravity and improve your balance. In addition, make sure you use to legs to keep yourself firmly in the kayak and to transfer your power into the boat. The key is to not let your speed drop off. The slower you go the less stable you are."
  • "Too many beginners," says Gardiner, "try and surf across a wave. The key is to take off perpendicular to a wave and drop straight down the face. Once you have the speed you can track across the wave and look for another run. Always try and keep your bow pointed down. To do that, scan the sea for holes in front of you and paddle towards them."
  • "There's a tendency," says Chalupsky, to go way off course when you're chasing the runs. Beware at all times of your final destination. This doesn't mean you have to track a straight line. You don't. But you need to keep your speed up and turn towards your destination while you're using the speed of the wave. That sounds simple but it's easy to lose sight of where you're going."

Greg Barton says in his article about wing paddle;
A wing paddle must be moving sideways, away from the boat in order to function properly. This is the main difference between a wing paddle stroke and a traditional stroke. With a traditional stroke (dashed line below), the paddle is pulled relatively straight back during the stroke. With a wing paddle (solid line) the stroke begins with the paddle next to the side of the kayak, but then the paddle moves steadily away from the boat during the stroke. The stroke generally finishes 12"-18" further away from the boat than it started.
Because the wing paddle is an open wing section (concave on the bottom side), water pressure builds up on the 'lip' at the leading edge of the blade and helps to push the paddle away from the kayak during the stroke. Therefore a wing paddle naturally wants to take the correct path in the water. It is best to pull straight on the paddle without forcing it into or away from the boat, letting the paddle move out on its' own. It will take a while to get used to the feel of the paddle and stroke; but once you find it, the stroke will feel very stable and comfortable. When switching back to a standard paddle, most wing users encounter a lot of flutter, as the traditional paddles do not track nearly as solidly as a wing blade in the water.

The paddle moves outward during the stroke and then exits out to the side. To begin your push for the stroke on the opposite side, do not move your hand close to your head (this would require bending your arm significantly). Instead, start your top hand push wide (away from the body where your previous stroke ended), and slowly come across with your top hand as you push forward. Towards the end of the stroke, your top hand will cross the center of the boat. This is desirable - as your blade and bottom hand move away from the kayak, your top hand should cross over this same amount. The angle of the paddle shaft when viewed from the front should remain nearly constant during the power phase of the stroke.

No comments: