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Stand Up Paddle => Technique => Topic started by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 09:44:04 AM

Title: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 09:44:04 AM
I have been of course shortening my paddle length over time like everybody else. I was at a reasonable length of 76" to my 72" height for some time.
Three weeks ago, as a result of discussing with Norman John Hann (kind of my mentor for everything SUP) about his own move in paddle length and the feedback in terms of stroke dynamics on balance board training during the week, I took the unreasonable step of lowering further my main paddle, the Salish 500, to 74.5". I was expecting some cringing in the lower back with a "I told you so" message from my erector spinae.
Low and behold, the first week-end of use resulted in less lower back strain than ever and a better start of my week seating at a desk. No strain in the shoulders either, but that you would expect.
Fluke, pure fluke......must be.....but I also cut the Viento 520 to 75" to have  a broader test over two blades.
Now this long week-end, after three good paddle sessions, it is the same......
Whoa....something is wrong, it seems like there is a "magic" paddle range where the lower back - and - the shoulders are taking less beating than otherwise. And 2.5"~3" over my head is quite outside where common wisdom would have put it until now.
Now crossing fingers that it does not all go away one day soon

disclaimer:
my back is not like everybody with a heavy thoracic Scoliosis so that could also influence the results in weird ways
I am using the shorter length on my low volume boards (Javelin and Maliko) but keep a little bit longer shafts for my bigger winter board
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Dusk Patrol on May 20, 2020, 12:44:51 PM
Interesting!  Iíll do some experimenting (but with an adjustable paddle).
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: burchas on May 20, 2020, 02:10:08 PM
Now crossing fingers that it does not all go away one day soon

What are you going to do if it does?

For my 68" I'm constantly ranging between 74-77 for flat water 73-75 for surf/DW regardless of boards though 6 different blades.

Funny? Maybe. Strange for sure :)
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: TallDude on May 20, 2020, 02:29:47 PM
For my distance on my unlimiteds I like 10" over. I like more reach as I'm going a lot faster. On my 14' I'll go down to 6" over. Surfing.. I'm 4" over. I dropped to head high or maybe 1" over for surfing, and that just about did my back in. I was a wreck for about a week.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 03:07:45 PM
Double post...
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 03:08:41 PM
What are you going to do if it does?

Hot glue a longer shaft :-)

OR

Tell my physio and she will make me work more  :P
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 03:11:47 PM
that just about did my back in. I was a wreck for about a week.

That is what I was expecting hence my surprise and delight that post week-end aches were really reduced both for shoulders AND back.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 03:13:56 PM
I also did not notice a marked slow-down or at all with having a shorter reach due to a shorter paddle. If anything it improves the catch and the start of the pull.
That said it is not an absolute unless you can check in a protected pool, back to back :-)
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: burchas on May 20, 2020, 03:27:14 PM
What are you going to do if it does?

Hot glue a longer shaft :-)


That's sounds better. So you didn't physically cut the paddle, just cut the length?
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 04:08:12 PM
What are you going to do if it does?

Hot glue a longer shaft :-)


That's sounds better. So you didn't physically cut the paddle, just cut the length?

I have several shafts of different lengths that I can swap to make my paddles of various length overall.
If suddenly 74.5" becomes intolerable instead of being beneficial like for now, I can bring the paddle back to 75.5" or other length.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: burchas on May 20, 2020, 05:22:13 PM
You are possibly giving up some flex on the shorter shafts, any accounting for that? Any style adjustment to compensate?
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 05:38:40 PM
You are possibly giving up some flex on the shorter shafts, any accounting for that? Any style adjustment to compensate?

I am using the new Blackfish Paddles shaft which are really soft. The only alternative I have found to Kenalu Xtuff.
I did not notice any problem going from 75.5 to 74.5 and I am peculiar with shaft softness...
As a beginner, my style is in constant flux so... :-)
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: jondrums on May 20, 2020, 06:08:41 PM
I hate the idea of height+X" as a formula.   You're talking about plus or minus an inch or two, and I would say the formula shouldn't be viewed as accurate enough to resolve that kind of difference. 

Shouldn't we take into account deck height above waterline?  The difference you are seeing versus other people could be entirely due to this.  On my foil board with a scooped deck, my feet are nominally under waterline.  On my bigger surfing board I'm probably 1.5 inches above water.  I use the same paddle for both, but I can tell the difference
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: PonoBill on May 20, 2020, 07:30:02 PM
I played around with this some time ago, did a lengthy experiment with different length shafts over a short measured distance. I shot video of each paddler with a floating piece of PVC next to them with one foot increments marked. The original idea was to show that an ideal length delivered the best speed and distance per stroke. It didn't.

Then I tried timed runs over longer distance ( a mile) using different lengths on different days (trying to eliminate preference and test order biases). I spent two weeks that I'm not going to get back collecting data. Rubbish.

What I basically determined is that different is better. Take an inch off, add an inch, either might feel better. Six months later do the opposite and it will feel better.

I also tried setting people up very carefully with a paddle length suited to their stroke and the thickness of the board they were using. Shot video of their stroke and measured how much shaft they'd need to bury the blade to the ferrule at their full reach on their board. Everyone I tried it with felt the paddle was too long.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on May 20, 2020, 07:53:21 PM
What I basically determined is that different is better. Take an inch off, add an inch, either might feel better. Six months later do the opposite and it will feel better.

I am expecting a little bit of that so I have a couple of longer shafts handy to go back one inch if the body calls for it.

I also tried setting people up very carefully with a paddle length suited to their stroke and the thickness of the board they were using. Shot video of their stroke and measured how much shaft they'd need to bury the blade to the ferrule at their full reach on their board. Everyone I tried it with felt the paddle was too long.

Yes this is reading your posts that I had started keeping track of the shaft lenght instead of the paddle lenght - specially at the time of the Konihi.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: burchas on May 20, 2020, 08:10:38 PM
...I spent two weeks that I'm not going to get back collecting data...

I was about to say "oh poor baby" and then I realized I spent 2 years on that and never even collected the data ??? But judging by my dozens of paddle parts I feel somewhat confident saying I got to the same conclusion, different is better, or it could mean that I'm just hard on equipment. Otherwise, why am I looking at dozens of paddle parts :D
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Night Wing on May 20, 2020, 08:16:33 PM
I'm 5'8" (68") and 140 lbs. I've had my left and right shoulders surgically repaired. I also have a cranky lower back that "talks to me sometimes".

When I flat water paddle, I raise my paddle handle "mouth high". This saves wear and tear on my shoulders. My paddle blade is 75 square inches. For the reasons given above, my total paddle length is 72".

This works well for my 11'1" One World sup and my two 10'5" Duke sups.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: supmmmm on May 20, 2020, 08:27:19 PM
For surf paddles, the smaller the board the shorter I like the paddle. In relation to my height I have; one paddle that come up to my chin, another thatís tip of nose length (gets used most often for surf) and one head height.
For my race boards the longest that I have is about 10Ē overhead.
And I use surf wax on all my paddles to keep the grip tension down.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: singingdog on May 22, 2020, 04:36:50 AM
What I basically determined is that different is better. Take an inch off, add an inch, either might feel better. Six months later do the opposite and it will feel better.
Yep. I come to SUP from a 6 day/week nordic skiing habit. I have several sets of skate poles, all in 1 cms increments. Sore? Switch it up. Doesn't seem to matter if it's longer or shorter, the full-body adjustment to the different length helps alleviate soreness and injury from the high repetition. I have noticed a similar thing with paddles. I have a couple of different lengths and will switch anytime I feel that I am starting to get sore or creaky (OK, more creaky).
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Night Wing on June 15, 2020, 11:30:20 AM
Since I've been staying home and doing flat water paddling for two hour sessions on our largest private freshwater lake with 2, ten minute breaks to rest, I started to notice there was a few sore spots on my right hand where my fingers meet at the palm of my hand. I surmised "maybe" my paddle length was "too short". So yesterday, Sunday morning, I started to do some in depth experimentation.

Now for some background. I'm 5'8" and weigh (right now) 140 pounds. I chose for my experiment, one of my two Dukes. It's specifications are: 10'5" in length, 32" in width, 4.5" at it's thickest at 190 liters.

I chose a 4 fin quad setup (2, 5") (2, 4"). I can paddle my Duke in a straight line just by paddling on my right side without switching over to my left side. I only use my left arm and left hand when I want to turn right with a 90 degree angle.

My paddle is considered a woman's paddle since it has a small diameter shaft and I have a small skeletal frame. The paddle is a Naish Alana 75 Vario, two piece adjustable paddle with an adjustment range between 65"-84". I've been flat water paddling with this paddle at 72" in length. The 75 square inch paddle blade is very easy on my two surgically repaired left and right shoulders.

The sore spots were where my right little pinky (and the finger next to it) met at the palm of my right hand. I really don't grip the entire shaft of the paddle by wrapping my entire hand around it. I just rest the paddle shaft were my fingers on my right hand meet the palm of my right hand. The sore spots come when I bury the paddle blade and push against the water towards me when I'm going forward.

I decided to "go long" and started to increase the length of the paddle by 1" increments. To make a long story short, I found at the 77" length, the sore spots on my right hand were not feeling sore at this length. I guessed the pressure was evenly distributed on all of my right fingers so no more sore spots.

Normally for flat water paddling, I paddle for 2 hours with two, 10 minute rest breaks (one rest break per hour) with the paddle length at 72". But at the 77" length, I could paddle an extra hour with a third 10 minute break. And no more sore spots on my right hand.

So for flat water paddling from now on, instead of my previous 72" length in my first post in this topic thread, I'm going with the 77" length from now on.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on June 29, 2020, 04:32:11 PM
I'm so glad I purchased an adjustable for my first paddle. Lots of trial-and-error. I'm 192 cm (75.5 inches) and have been playing with lengths between 203-210 cm (80-83 inches). funny thing - I like different lengths depending on which side I'm stroking...is this normal or should I schedule a spine alignment (lol).
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Quickbeam on June 29, 2020, 07:33:43 PM
I'm so glad I purchased an adjustable for my first paddle. Lots of trial-and-error. I'm 192 cm (75.5 inches) and have been playing with lengths between 203-210 cm (80-83 inches). funny thing - I like different lengths depending on which side I'm stroking...is this normal or should I schedule a spine alignment (lol).

Absolutely agree with you re an adjustable paddle. I always advise those new to the sport to start with an adjustable. It took me a long time to get the right paddle length dialed in. For reference, Iím 5í 8Ē and use a paddle length of 72 1/2Ē.

As for spine alignment, sorry, canít help you with that one!
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: stoneaxe on June 29, 2020, 11:03:41 PM
I played around all over the place, longer, shorter, real short. Came back almost full circle....shaka overhead for flatwater, 3" overhead for surf.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on June 30, 2020, 06:30:03 AM
I'm so new that I'm not sure if the shoulder fatigue is due to poor conditioning or paddle length? I dropped down one inch and it felt much better. I'm only 4.5 inches longer than my height - is that unusual?
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Quickbeam on June 30, 2020, 08:18:24 AM
I'm so new that I'm not sure if the shoulder fatigue is due to poor conditioning or paddle length? I dropped down one inch and it felt much better. I'm only 4.5 inches longer than my height - is that unusual?

Shoulder fatigue can absolutely be caused by paddle length. My paddle length is also 4 1/2Ē over my height. I donít know how ďnormalĒ this is, but itís what works for me. And yes, shoulder fatigue was one of the things that went into finding the right length. My shoulder still gets sore at times, but not near as much as it did with a longer shaft. I tried to find a balance between the paddle length that gave me the best stroke and didnít hurt my shoulders. After a very long time of trial and error, I came up with 4 1/2Ē above my height.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on June 30, 2020, 11:43:22 AM
I would say that having two exemplary of your favorite paddle with one inch difference and switch from time to time seems like a good idea now.
(or swapping hot glued shafts of course).
When you have several favorite paddles, it is a little bit more challenging :-)
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: sflinux on July 01, 2020, 02:00:27 PM
I hate the idea of height+X" as a formula.   You're talking about plus or minus an inch or two, and I would say the formula shouldn't be viewed as accurate enough to resolve that kind of difference. 

Shouldn't we take into account deck height above waterline?  The difference you are seeing versus other people could be entirely due to this.  On my foil board with a scooped deck, my feet are nominally under waterline.  On my bigger surfing board I'm probably 1.5 inches above water.  I use the same paddle for both, but I can tell the difference
Good point.  In windy and choppy conditions I find I like a lower center of gravity.  I wonder if an ideal equation would have the guild factor built into it.
Erik Antonson polled surfers and noticed that paddles fell in the chin, nose, & eyebrow realm with some +/-.  He noticed a trend that taller riders seemed to be on the shorter paddle length of the bell curve, and shorter riders on the longer paddle length end of the bell curve.  I presume it has to do with a taller person have longer reach, so can use a shorter paddle and vice versa.
That being said I am 6'2" and my paddle is still a couple inches taller than me.  I have been cutting it down about 2" every 6 months.  My shoulder loves the shorter paddle length.  I noticed a shorter paddle is more stable in the surf.  A shorter paddle will give you a higher cadence, which is good for acceleration.  I thought I was going to cut again, but just tried that paddle with my 12' board  (guild factor 1.80) and the paddle length felt pretty good.  I will keep this paddle length for now, and go shorter for my next paddle for my lower volume boards (guild factor 1.2+).  Colin Mcphillips says he liked to go shorter with every new paddle (-0.5") during his progression.
My first paddles had no handles.  When I am contemplating going shorter, I try not using the handle to get an idea if that paddle length is comfortable.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on July 03, 2020, 03:36:24 PM
Today I went even shorter - down to 79 inches (just a tad over 200cm). BTW, I started at 84 inches. My shoulders are thankful but now I worry that I'm not getting much positive blade angle at the catch. Still tons of tinkering to do!
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: supthecreek on July 04, 2020, 04:57:30 AM
I am surprised.... I don't think it's been mentioned here:

Ke Nalu "Extended Ergo T handle"
It's 10" long , so it will allow for a vast range of paddle length options with a single paddle.

I used one to determine what height I liked best.
Simply cut the shaft to a length that will suit a reasonable height  (you can always cut shorter)
Using hot glue, insert the handle to a length you want to try, let it set and off you go.......

want to go shorter?
Carefully heat the shaft with a heat gun, and reset the length.

Once you find a happy place, be happy till you want to adjust again... then reheat and change length.

The longer hosel on the Extended Ergo T weighs next to nothing... I can't even tell which paddle it is in anymore.

My length?
2" OH for every board, Surf or flat-water because I flatwater on low railed surf style SUPs like the Search or Point Break

My shoulders never bother me because I paddle for enjoyment, not speed. 10 years later and still love exploring the estuaries and marshes.
Many of my "speed obsessed" friends gave up paddling when they stopped getting faster.... just a thought  ;)

Don't misunderstand, I love the race crew and attend many races to mix with them and soak up the positive energy....
But I like to offer the option to new  paddlers..... plenty to love about enjoying the glide, at pace less harmful to body parts.

Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on July 04, 2020, 08:23:51 AM

My shoulders never bother me because I paddle for enjoyment, not speed. 10 years later and still love exploring the estuaries and marshes.
Many of my "speed obsessed" friends gave up paddling when they stopped getting faster.... just a thought  ;)

Don't misunderstand, I love the race crew and attend many races to mix with them and soak up the positive energy....
But I like to offer the option to new  paddlers..... plenty to love about enjoying the glide, at pace less harmful to body parts.

Many thanks supthecreek! I think you have a good outlook that many can benefit from (including me!). Right now I'm enjoying being back on the water again after an 18-year hiatus. I enjoy moving the boat (err board) - the entire process - but most especially the quiet times alone gliding along a flat lake.

As for handle types, I'm trying to find the best match between T-Curved, T-Curved Ergo and Oval. I'm thinking perhaps the oval will be good for my small(ish) hands?
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on July 14, 2020, 05:47:25 PM
I have an adjustable length SIC Tao. I'm thinking about ordering a fixed length paddle so out of curiosity, I measured the true length of my adjustable paddle which is currently set at "200 cm"...and it measured 198 cm. Is there some voodoo science behind measuring paddle length or is the SIC adjustable scale not meant to be taken literally (more of just a loose guideline)?
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on July 15, 2020, 10:43:51 AM
Today, I added 8cm to my paddle length. I believe I wasn't burying my paddle deep enough and my releases were loud and splashy. Now, with the blade deeper during the drive phase I'm noticing that my releases are much cleaner. The killer is the added paddle length during the catch (shoulders hate me) - there's really no way around that.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Night Wing on July 15, 2020, 12:03:58 PM
Today, I added 8cm to my paddle length. I believe I wasn't burying my paddle deep enough and my releases were loud and splashy. Now, with the blade deeper during the drive phase I'm noticing that my releases are much cleaner. The killer is the added paddle length during the catch (shoulders hate me) - there's really no way around that.

My orthopedic surgeon repaired my left shoulder in 2002 and my right shoulder (rotator cuff tear and bone spur) in 2017. After my right shoulder was repaired, he told me to "ditch my 85 blade size and go with a 75 blade size and both of my shoulders would thank me for it". And he was right.

You might want to consider reducing your paddle blade size.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Luc Benac on July 15, 2020, 12:20:23 PM
80 sqi for me is now a huge paddle. Most of the time using 77 sqi or 71 sqi.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: JBMaine on July 16, 2020, 05:12:14 AM
I second the reduction of blade size. This year I went from 90 square inches to 79. This resulted in a change of constant shoulder pain to none.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Badger on July 16, 2020, 06:09:43 AM
When I started back in 2013, 95 square inches was considered small. Few if any companies were making smaller blades at the time.

Now I can't imagine using anything over 80.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on July 18, 2020, 05:13:55 PM
I've come full circle with my paddle length. My "suggested" length is 82-83" per QuickBlade's table. I've been all over the map in length and while 78-79 feels better on my shoulders, I wasn't getting any positive blade angle and I noticed my blade depth during the drive was shallow, creating splashy releases. My low back appreciates the added length but one unexpected benefit has been with leg fatigue...my legs feels stronger with the longer shaft. Perhaps its because I'm transferring more body weight onto the longer paddle?

About the shoulder pain with a longer paddle...there's no getting around the extra shoulder height required at the catch; however, I've noticed that I'll get some relief if I keep the handle low as I'm recovering for the next stroke. In my mind, I keep repeating "low carry, bury"...as in carry the paddle low during the recovery and make sure to bury the blade during the catch...seems to help.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Badger on July 18, 2020, 07:51:10 PM
I'm six feet tall and my surf paddle length has been at 73 inches for about four years now. Lately, I've been feeling like an inch longer might be more comfortable. It might be because I'm getting older and don't paddle as aggressively as I used to.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: OkiWild on July 19, 2020, 02:40:57 AM
Largest factor in joint problems in sea kayaking is blade size being too big. With SUP, I was having shoulder and wrist problems, but I was using an 88" blade. Without changing anything else, I went down to an 82" blade (same shape), and problems pretty much went away. All of my surf paddles now have a 78" blade, and I can't recall the last time I had a shoulder or wrist strain.

5'10" and I use a 75"-76" long paddle. Most of the breaks I surf are a 1km+ paddle to get to. Watching the surfers with their eye-height paddles make that trek doesn't look like much fun :-(   
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: Area 10 on July 19, 2020, 07:45:47 AM
Yeah I agree - as your stroke technique improves you can reduce the size of your blade.

I think the more experienced paddlers in the community are ahead of the brands here. Many brands are only making small blades with weak shafts, expecting that sub-80 blades will only be used by light women and kids. But this is not the case. I have about 25 paddles for SUP but use the 71 vdrive most often. I'd buy a 61 if they made one but they don't.. The 71 never slips for me. Recently I got a 80 SIC Maliko. Quite a decsnt paddle for surf or downwind, but it would be much better as 72-75 sq inches. Please brands: see the writing on the wall and start making smaller blade sizes in combination with slim but strong shafts. (Another bugbear of mine is shafts that have too big a diameter: paddles like the RRD Race Pro show the huge advantage for blade control of narrower shafts.)
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on August 05, 2020, 03:35:18 AM
Thinking more about my paddle length and its relationship with paddling straight. Perhaps one of my issues/barriers is my parallel stance? I've played around with a staggered stance and cannot find a comfortable position. However, after watching a tutorial from Connor Baxter, perhaps I should press the issue? In the video below starting at the 4:00 minute mark, Connor discusses how a staggered stance promotes straight paddling. Is this something I should pursue at all costs early in my SUP development?

Video (skip to 4:00): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3uPH0Hr0wQ
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: PonoBill on August 05, 2020, 08:20:45 AM
I've had many surgeries on my shoulders, ranging back to my early twenties when I encountered a ditch someone had cut across a dirt oval while I was riding a friend's Norton Atlas. Later, playing rollerblade hockey added more injuries and surgeries.

When I was involved with KeNalu paddles I got very interested in shaft flex for obvious reasons. The original xTuf shaft was good for my touchy shoulders, especially at the catch. But I was also interested in getting as good a stroke as I could, and I didn't feel the xTuf was helpful. When we came out with the xTuf(S) shaft it was a huge breakthrough for me. A shaft that cushioned the catch and then locked up for the stroke. At the time the Wiki was the smallest blade we made (84) and with the Elite (full carbon) shaft and a mediocre catch, it felt much too small for me. The xTuf(s) didn't just cushion the catch, it also added a tiny hesitation at the catch that helped the blade settle and plant. With a steadily improving stroke and the hesitation of the shaft, the wiki was plenty big. I could be wrong, but I think that shaft is still the only one with those particular characteristics. Other manufacturers offer varying flex levels but combining biased unidirectional carbon fiber with a fiberglass core to provide initial flex with ultimate stiffness is something I haven't seen elsewhere.

I still switch to xTuf(S) when my shoulders ache. I'm halfway convinced it not only eliminates the shock of a catch but actually is therapeutic. I offered that opinion to my shoulder doc, and he looked at me like I was nuts. It's a cynical world.

If you want a good stroke you need to bury the paddle at least to the ferrule and push down as you stroke. Whatever length shaft it takes to do that is what you need. Your stance, of course, will affect that length. Connor in a staggered stance is considerably lower than he would be in a paralell stance.

There is no one single element that creates a great stroke, you need every element, and that's a lot of moving parts. Over the years I've watched every elite paddler change their stroke almost yearly as they refine what works. I've taken paddling lessons from Dave Kalama on three widely separated occasions, and he's emphasized different elements each time. Same with Johnny Puakea. If Dave and Johnny are still learning and refining then I think we can safely assume this isn't a simple thing.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: LoudounSUP on August 05, 2020, 06:21:41 PM
Thanks Bill for all your thoughts on the topic. During this journey, I noticed my blade was washing out at the end of my stroke - clearly a sign that I wasn't burying my blade deep enough. I am progressing but need to figure out this whole stance/paddle length thing so I can paddle straight. Its frustrating to need to switch - I'd rather switch only when I want to.
Title: Re: Funny thing with paddle length...
Post by: PonoBill on August 05, 2020, 07:30:43 PM
If you bury the blade and stack your shoulders so the shaft is as vertical as possible you will minimize turning as you stroke. Reaching well, burying the blade and pushing down as you pull allows the blade to be under the edge of the board. It also delivers the highest amount of thrust--if your blade is off to the side then some of the thrust is wasted pushing against the side of the board, and turning it. The ideal stroke would be down the center of the board--not feasible, but that would deliver all the force to just pushing you forward. Any distance from the centerline creates a vector angle that decreases the power sending you forward and increases turning.

The stance is a small part of a good stroke. You'd learn a lot about paddling from outrigger canoe paddling--especially OC6--where you are seated all the time. No, you can't stroke very hard with your feet parallel, you need to brace a bit.

I don't know what you mean by washing out at the end of your stroke. Pulling your blade past your feet is generally ineffective. My preference is to shorten the time while my blade is in the air as much as possible, so I don't let the paddle drift back when the power of the stroke ends just before my feet. I pull the blade out like pulling a sword from a scabbard, feather it to decrease wind resistance and snap it forward for the next stroke. I try to push the blade into the water at the end of my reach like sticking an envelope into a mail slot--sliding it in as smoothly as I can to reduce the amount of air that stays on the blade, hesitate for a barely discernable moment, then press down as hard as I pull.

Larry Cain has some excellent videos on drills to practice these moves. It's almost impossible to learn good paddling without drills. Repeating flaws in your stroke as part of just paddling will only make you good at doing it wrong.

Understand that I am not particularly fast now, I'm 73, the inevitable loss of muscle and geezer balance doesn't lend itself to optimal speed. But I learned paddling from some of the best people early on, and because of that head start I won my age group in a lot of races even though I was heavier and not nearly as well-conditioned as many of the people I competed with. My advice could well be out of date, but I don't really think so.
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