How do you perfect your kayak paddling? I think all of you have this question. You might be wondering if what you’re doing or how you’re doing it is correct. So I am writing this article so that you don’t have this doubt anymore.
Paddling a kayak is a relatively simple skill to acquire, which is one of the best things about kayaking. Have you ever paddled your kayak for an hour or two and wondered why water was seeping into your sleeves, through your garments, and into the cockpit? There are, however, simple steps you can take to limit the amount of water you get into while kayaking. Some of the water can be avoided by preventing it from running down the paddle’s shaft, but there are other ways to stay dry as well.
How to paddle a kayak perfectly?
The fundamentals are easy to pick up for the vast majority of people. To get where you’re going in the water as quickly and efficiently as possible, though, you’ll need to master precise paddling methods and sitting posture. It is possible to take a class for novice kayakers or work one-on-one with an expert to master the art of kayaking. If you’re determined to learn the basics without leaving your house, we’ve put together a primer on kayaking form, grip, and strokes.
HOW SHOULD YOU SIT IN A KAYAK?
Good kayaking posture improves paddling and movement. When you sit correctly, you can move quicker and further with less effort and damage. Kayak posture requires sitting up straight. Your knees should be bent, and your feet should be on V-shaped footpegs. head, sit-in kayaks should support your thighs. Thigh braces can help you paddle and control the kayak. Don’t slouch. Imagine an invisible line from your belly button to your slouched shoulders. Leaning back in the kayak seat like a sofa is a common error. Leaning back while paddling can cause lower back pain and balance issues, especially when turning sharply. As you fatigue, you may lean back. That’s a good sign to stop. Lean forward instead of backward if you can’t get out of your kayak. Rest your back by holding onto the cockpit or deck lines. Basic core muscle training at home can help you kayak properly. A kayak with a comfortable seat and back support might also help on extended trips.
HOW TO HOLD A PADDLE ON A KAYAK WITHOUT HURTING
The secret to kayaking without growing weary, sore, or hurting while doing so while also Changing where your hands and arms are can make a big difference in how well you paddle. dramatically increased with a few minor hand and arm position changes. Of course, you’ll also need to pick the right size paddle for your height and your kayak’s width.
1. Know Your Paddle
Take some time to become familiar with the paddle before you start learning how to paddle a kayak. Your paddle should have blades that are either symmetrical or not, concave or flat, and feathered or not feathered. These are the three most important characteristics to consider. Asymmetrical paddles have blades that are shorter on one side than the other. The difference, though, might be incredibly minute. Asymmetrical blades are more common because they make paddling easier and more efficient. Similar to this, paddle blades can be either straight or concave. However, the angle can differ from paddle to paddle. The majority of paddles have concave blades, which are better at catching and pulling against the water. Last but not least, are the blades feathered or not? Since feathered blades are at an angle to each other and unfeathered blades are straight, you have to turn the paddle shaft for each stroke. When you paddle with feathered blades, air resistance is lower because one blade enters the water vertically and the other cuts through the air horizontally. Lay your paddle on the ground to determine whether it is feathered or not. It is unfeathered if both blades are flat. One is feathered if it is sticking up.
2. Position Your Arms and Hands Correctly
Place your hands correctly on the shaft to begin with. The simplest way to do that is to position the paddle on your head at its center. Once the paddle is in this position, move your hands so that your elbows are 90 degrees away from your body. As you lower the paddle in front of you, keep your hands where they are and pay attention to how your arms, chest, and torso are arranged. Your “paddler’s box” is this shape, which you should strive to hold while kayaking. Simply repeat the process if you get out of shape or take a break.
3. Adjust Your Grip
Position your hands on the shaft first. Resting the paddle’s center point on your head is the easiest way. With the paddle in this position, bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
As you lower the paddle, observe your arms, chest, and torso. Maintain your “paddler’s box” while kayaking. Repeat if you lose shape or stop.
4. Orient Your Paddle Blades
You can start paddling now that your hands are in the right place and you have a good grip on the paddle shaft. Check your paddle blades first.
Your paddle will affect this. The shorter side of asymmetric blades should face the water. Point the longer side upwards. Unless using flat blades, make sure the curved side is facing you to catch water and propel you forward.
Once you’ve aligned the blades, check your paddles’ length. Your knuckles should touch the paddle’s top. Line up your knuckles on one hand with the blade of a feathered paddle. This hand rotates the shaft while paddling.
KAYAK PADDLING & STROKES TECHNIQUE
Let’s now discuss how to paddle a kayak. When first entering the water, proceed with caution. Instead of trying to go long distances, you should focus on doing each stroke right and sitting in the right way. Initially, you may find yourself going in circles or moving at a snail’s pace. Don’t worry—speed and distance are correlated with sound paddling technique.
Similarly, tweak your body. If your arms or back are sore, take a break and adjust your position. Paddling a kayak shouldn’t hurt. If so, you should likely adjust your body position or technique.
The fundamental paddle strokes can be divided into three key phases: the wind-up phase, the power phase, and the release phase. While learning, it is helpful to say each step aloud as you perform it. Consequently, you can avoid missing any crucial phases.
You will utilize the forward stroke the most on any kayaking adventure, so take your time. Putting in the time to learn the right technique will help you a lot when you want to move on to longer distances or faster speeds.
At first glance, the forward stroke appears to be powered solely by the arms. However, as with any kayak paddle stroke, you must also utilize your core and leg muscles. If your legs are more exhausted than your arms at the end of a kayaking journey, you are likely paddling correctly.
To perform a forward stroke:
1. Look where you’re going
Look where you’re heading and not at your paddle blades. You don’t watch the steering wheel while driving or stare at your handlebars while cycling. Likewise, watching each stroke will put you off course, and it’s good practice to look where you’re going anyway.
2. Turn Your Torso
Turn your torso so that you can position one paddle blade close to the kayak and roughly in line with your feet. Your upper arm should be slightly bent, while your lower arm should be straight, but your elbow should not be locked. In addition, firmly press your stroke-side foot against the footpeg.
3. Make a strong stroke
Make a strong stroke. Keep your lower arm straight and your foot on the stroke side, pressing against the footpeg, as the paddle is now submerged in the water. Unwind your torso at the same time as you lightly push with your upper hand to bring the paddle blade to your hip.
4. Look Lift the paddle out
Lift the paddle out of the water to stop the stroke when the blade reaches your hip. To repeat the stroke on the other side, your torso should already be turned.
Although it may seem like there are a lot of things to keep in mind, the most crucial ones are keeping the “paddler box” shape and rotating your complete body, not just your shoulders.
2. Reverse Stroke
The reverse stroke is similar to the forward stroke, but you start at your hips and finish at your feet. Although you won’t need to use it as often, it’s useful for turning in a tight space or giving way on a narrow waterway.
To perform a reverse stroke:
1. Look behind you
Before beginning to swim backward, take a quick look behind you. Verify that you won’t collide with any other paddlers or objects.
2. Wind Up your torso
Make your torso wind up. Put the blade in the water near the kayak and in a line with your hip. Put pressure on the footpeg with your stroke-side foot.
3. Power your stroke
Make strong strokes. As you stretch out your torso, your lower arm should move from your hips to your feet. Pull gently on the paddle shaft with your upper arm.
4. Release the stroke
When the blade reaches your feet, release the stroke, then do the same on the other side.
When paddling backward, you might find yourself involuntarily stooping. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t keep the kayak moving in a straight line; just try to keep your back straight. Backward movement is challenging and requires experience. It will assist if you concentrate on something stationary up front and keep your strokes brief.
3. Sweep Stroke
The kayak can be turned gently to the opposing side by repeatedly making forward or backward strokes on one side. When you need to slightly alter your course, this is helpful. When you need to turn or make more major changes to the direction of your paddle, a sweep stroke is more effective.
An effective forward sweep stroke is:
Look in the direction you want to turn.
2. Wind your torso
Wind your torso and push your stroke-side foot against the footpeg, just like you’re making a forward stroke.
3. Power your stroke
Keeping the blade immersed in the water, slowly rotate your torso, making a wide arch with the paddle. Your kayak will turn as you do this.
4. Release the stroke
Release the stroke when the blade reaches your hip. Repeat on the same side to continue the turn, or resume paddling with a forward stroke.
This stroke requires more effort than a typical forward or reverse stroke; therefore, make the arch wide and long. You can lean forward and start the sweep stroke in front of your feet for a stronger sweep stroke.
The kayak will turn bow-first, or the front will turn and the back will follow, by using a forward sweep stroke. Simply follow the steps above to turn stern-first, but start the stroke from your hip as if you were completing a reverse stroke.
4. Draw Stroke
The draw stroke is used to move the kayak sideways without turning. It can be used to help you draw nearer to an object, such as a jetty or another kayak.
To do this:
Look and turn your torso in the direction you want to move.
2. Immerse the blade horizontally
From your kayak, submerge the blade horizontally within an arm’s reach (about 2 feet). You should be facing the blade’s curved side.
3. Slowly pull the blade towards your hip
Use your lower hand to gradually draw the blade away from the kayak until it is about six inches from your hip. Your dominant hand should be at relaxed eye level.
4. Rotate the blade 90 degrees
Slice it back to its original point by turning the blade 90 degrees. You can either pluck it out of the water at this point or go through steps one through three again.
“You must first come to a complete stop before attempting a draw stroke, because doing so will likely cause you to capsize.” Also, if you feel the blade getting close to or touching the kayak, just let go with your stronger hand and start over. If you try to pull it out, you\’ll probably get soaked.\”
HOW TO AVOID BEING WET
There are some common reasons to explain why we get wet when paddling a kayak:
- Concave Paddle Blade Design
- No Drip Rings
- High Angle Paddle Stroke
- Using a Kayak Paddle That’s Too Short
- Not Wearing Water Repellant Apparel
- Kayaking in Inclement Weather
How Do You Stop a Paddle Drip?
Paddling causes water to soak into garments and into kayaks. A high-angle paddle stroke allows water to drop from the kayak paddle blade, down the shaft, and into the kayak or onto your clothing.
Installing paddle drip rings on the paddle’s right and left shafts is the easiest and fastest way to stop the drip of water from the paddle blade down the shaft.
A set of kayak paddle drip rings doesn’t require pricey clothes, a new paddle, or a change in paddling style. The drip ring is usually the first step to stopping a paddle drip.
What is a kayak paddle drip ring?
Kayak paddle drip rings are little concave rubber rings. These drip rings tightly wrap the kayak paddle shaft above your hands.
These rubber rings prevent water from flowing down the paddle shaft into your lap and kayak cockpit.
How Do You Not Get Wet When Paddling a Kayak?
Paddle drip rings are the obvious first step to avoiding kayaking wet. However, paddle drip rings cannot prevent all water from entering the kayak or running down the paddle shaft.
Wind, rain, and your paddle can worsen this. I’ll cover all six ways to minimize kayaking wetness below.
1. Use a Flat Blade Design
A spooned blade helps the paddle collect more water with each stroke. This is good and boosts blade power.
This blade design does not minimize water dripping down the paddle.
If you’re a leisurely kayaker and don’t care about speed, try a flat blade. The flat blade does not catch water during the stroke.
Asymmetrical flat blades minimize consequences of becoming wet while kayaking. Next option: asymmetrical blade design for a lower-angle paddle stroke.
2. Change Your Paddle Stroke Angle
Gravity plays a significant role in the water’s journey from the kayak’s blade, down the shaft, and into your lap. Consequently, the most effective solution is to minimize the gravitational attraction on the water.
Changing the angle of your paddle stroke can be of assistance here. A paddle stroke can be divided into the following steps:
The beginning of the paddle stroke is the wind-up. During the catch phase, it refers to winding your body to provide power for the blade into the water. During the wind-up, you will rotate your torso and angle the paddle blade such that it may enter the water.
If you change the angle at which the blade of the paddle hits the water, you will also change the angle of the blade on the other side, which is called the “recovery blade.” This will result in less water going down the paddle shaft.
Attempt to maintain a horizontal paddle position during the wind-up, catch, and recovery. This page is the definitive guide to paddling a kayak like a pro.
3. Add a Paddle Drip Ring
As was already said, paddle drip rings are an easy way to stop most water from running down the paddle. When kayaking, they will stop water from going straight down the paddle and soaking you.
A kayak drip ring is merely a little rubber ring that is attached to the paddle shaft. The drip ring is a concave or cupped form that collects and sends water away from the paddler.
When adding drip rings to the shaft of a kayak paddle, ensure that they are positioned high enough. This guarantees that they will not be submerged during the paddle stroke.
Otherwise, they will not function properly. The rings should be mounted between 4 and 8 inches from the paddle blade. A shallower paddle stroke can help keep the rings from going under the water.
4. Use a Longer Paddle Shaft
Using a kayak paddle that is too short for your body can cause you to paddle at a steeper angle. Using a short paddle makes it more difficult to keep the paddle horizontal. Obviously, a steeper angle will result in a greater amount of water running down the paddle.
With a longer paddle, each stroke can be done at a shallower angle because the blades can be used at a longer length. This begins with selecting the appropriate paddle length based on your height. Utilize the paddle length table below to select the appropriate paddle.
5. Wear the proper clothing.
Although getting wet occasionally while kayaking is a reality of life on the water, the clothing you wear can limit how often you get wet. This is especially true when the weather is chilly and you don’t want to consume a lot of water.
The first rule is to avoid cotton fabrics in favor of those that are more water-resistant. Therefore, the best options are wool, nylon, polyester, and polyester fleece. Another idea is to dress in layers in case you become too warm or need to remove wet garments.
6. Avoid Windy and Rainy Days
Staying somewhat dry when kayaking requires avoiding days with a precipitation prediction. In comparison to getting wet by a rainstorm, water dripping down the shaft of a paddle blade is child’s play.
There is nothing you could have done to prevent the occurrence of isolated storms and rain. Always check the weather forecast before kayaking, and if staying dry is a high priority and there is a potential for precipitation, it is advisable to postpone the activity.
Additionally, wind can render paddle drip rings ineffective. The wind will always blow any water off the paddle blade back into your face or kayak cockpit.
Staying completely dry when kayaking is not always possible, but no one said this meant that a person has to endure hours of kayaking in a pool of water or with a drenched shirt.
Talking about how to handle a kayak paddle? Do you know you can even attach a sail to your kayak?