Mike AronoffMike is an American Canoe Association highest level Instructor Trainer Educator in both Coastal and River Kayaking as well as WW Canoe. He is also a British canoe Union Coach with the 4 Star award in Sea Kayak. He is the Chairman of the Coastal Kayak Committee of the USA and on the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Committee. Mike has co authored a number of books on paddling and wrote the ACA Kayak Trip Leading Course. He is a guest instructor in many parts of the US for various programs. He is the owner/general manager of Canoe Kayak and Paddle Co. LLC, a northern Virginia based paddling school and outfitter with an Annapolis, MD branch. Mike is also a registered Idaho Guide and leads trips there and locally. He is most active in certifying ACA paddling instructors in sea and river kayaking.
The forward stroke, usually as people guess how many forward strokes do you think you would take in a minute. I will tell you the answer, 50-60 strokes in a minute, that is just going at a relaxed pace. I am Mike Aranoff with Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company. Well I gave you some ideas of using a forward stroke because hey! It is the one you are going to using most of the time to get from point A to point B.
Several things are important in doing a forward stroke. There aren t any right or wrong you could do one that uses a lot of energy and is quite inefficient and that doesn t matter if you are just out having a good time looking at the lily pads, I am not about to say there is anything wrong with that. If you are going to go long distances though you are going to want to use a stroke that doesn t use as much energy and is more efficient.
The model that we are going to try to teach would be that one you have only used the large muscles, large muscle groups of your body not your biceps you want to use your torso for your power so the torso is from what is referred to as rotation. Rotation comes from the waist, rotate, catch which is the beginning of the stroke at your foot as you unrotate your hands is going to come back to your hip, paddle exists the water you rotate forward catch on the other side Paddle exists at the hip. This will give you the most efficient type of stroke. If you take this stroke too long meaning that you see your hand come back past the hip you are telling the Kayak to turn. Not very efficient to go turn left to turn right turn left turn right what you want to is say go straight, go straight, go straight.
As I paddle into you just a moment ago, you should have been able to see some rotation in my PFD as I use my torso to power the kayak. We want to have a loose grip on the paddle not tight. Your shaft angle is going to be the about at about 45 degrees using a fairly high shaft angle that means that my head is -- my hand this hand is going to be between my chin and my eye. Other people may paddle with more relaxed style, probably at shoulder height. It is somewhere between that shoulder height and eye height, will make sense to give you a nice forward stroke. Some of this is dependent upon the type of paddle that you use and just your own personal style of paddling. So, again there is no right and no wrong, but work on something that will be efficient so that you can take those 3000 strokes an hour for several hours at a time and really get to go site seeing in your kayak.