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Thread: How to paddle a sit on top kayak?

  1. #1
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    Default How to paddle a sit on top kayak?

    Sounds simple...but I am making a habit of turning more than going straight. Its my understanding that its all about technique, not strength. I am trying to reach towards my feet and pull by using my upper body (not as much arms) and having the paddle leave the water before it gets back to my hip. What am I doing wrong? Any instructional video advice? I am checking out youtube.

    Should be simple but I am having too much trouble staying straight. I went with a Point65 N Tequila sit on top, modular kayak. Since I have no room on top my truck because of RTT, I needed something that is versatile and fit in my truck or a car. It can be a tandem or solo kayak. Very easy to assemble and seems as durable as any other.

    I'll keep practicing!
    2000 Montero. Lockers front/rear, lower gears, stuff inside, and tent on top.

  2. #2
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    A boat this short will have problems tracking straight. A couple of the reviews at REI mention this problem. I have an inflatable about this size, and always use the optional skeg if I want to get somewhere.

    Do you have the extension piece? I expect that it will track better with that in.

    As to your paddling technique, the main thing is to balance one side against the other, so on average you go where you want to, even if your wake is twisted. Shorter, less powerful strokes may help. Paddling with your whole torso, and pushing forward with one arm, rather pulling back with the other, will make your paddling more efficient, but I don't think it will improve tracking.

    With a canoe paddle it is possible to use a J stroke that counter acts the effect of paddling on one side, but I don't think that is possible with a double paddle. One side has to balance the other.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input. I did try shorter strokes and that did help. I can get it going straight for awhile but then find myself losing my tracking. I will give the tandem mode a try. All in all its quite fun! I grew up with a canoe (17' Grumman) and utilized the J-stroke well. Kayaks are a little different for sure. I think I tend to use too much arm and muscle it as I always want to go faster.

    I'll keep practicing! Those who are pros make it look so effortless and efficient!

    Thanks again.
    2000 Montero. Lockers front/rear, lower gears, stuff inside, and tent on top.

  4. #4
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    You also need to be sure your opposite arm is pushing as hard (=) to the arm that is pulling. Try and keep that opposite arm as parallel to the water as possible. Of course the water, wind and weather can and will require different strokes.

    Practice, as mentioned, is usually the key!

  5. #5
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    There is some obvious stuff to check, too:

    The closer the paddle is to the kayak the less you will turn. The paddle doesn't need to be vertical but it probably needs to be steeper than 45 degrees.

    If your hands are different lengths from the blades you'll get more turning affect on one side so make sure you hold the paddle symmetrically.

    Most kayaks will turn one way or the other if you tilt the hull so make sure you keep the hull level as you paddle.

    Similarly if your weight is not reasonably centered front-back you can introduce some instabilities because of the shape of the hull in the water. Get somebody to eyeball how level the kayak is when you're paddling.

    Make sure your head is looking where you want to go.

    Practicing turning is good for learning to paddle in a straight line. Long wide "sweep" strokes work well. If you want to maintain forward momentum then use forward strokes but if you're stopped you can use alternating forward and backward strokes on each side. Try tilting the hull, pushing with the same foot as the hand you paddle (forwards) with to see what affect each has on the way the kayak handles.

    Forward strokes should all be "from your feet to your seat". Backward strokes from the stern to your seat.

    You can use a stern rudder or J stroke to check the turn but it wastes energy by slowing the kayak down. The J stroke is harder because your body is lower to the water than in a canoe so its not as easy to rotate your wrist outwards to get the back of the paddle facing the boat.

    Have fun and keep at it!

    Cheers,
    Graham
    Graham Fitter

    Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the input! I can't wait to get back out and practice.
    2000 Montero. Lockers front/rear, lower gears, stuff inside, and tent on top.

  7. #7
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    I don't find kayaks are different than canoes necessarily. The problem is there are so many... bad... kayaks on the market now. Short hulls, no keel, etc... it's practically impossible to paddle straight. I'm a pretty accomplished paddler, but I don't take out the boats my parents bought. Little 10 or 12 foot things. They just "spin out" constantly. My cousin bought a 14 foot touring boat. It's a little short and inefficient, but at least it tracks straight. Just depends on the boat. So yeah, might not be you. I have an old R5, about 13 feet and it goes well. Man I wish they still made that boat, it was such a good "do anything" hull. White water or flat, and not expensive.
    Last edited by R_Lefebvre; 07-27-2010 at 05:02 AM.

  8. #8
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    The boat the OP is talking about is only 9.5 ft long. It splits in 2, so you only have to have a 5ft long storage space.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, it just seems too short to me. It's like trying to paddle a potato in a straight line. I'd say there's probably nothing wrong with the OP's technique, it's just the way the boat is.

    I mean, I look at this video, and it looks like they do everything with the boat EXCEPT paddle it fast in a straight line.

    http://www.ispo-brandnew.com/en/Winn...productid=1402

    Review at REI:

    The overlapping modular design is great and easy to use. Easy to manage. Each piece is 5.5 feet in length.. No hull access for extra storage or to add rod holders. This kayak tracks extremely poorly. My whole family (even my 9 year old daughter) noticed even first time on this kayak. Constantly struggling to keep it going straight. During lunch my kids were putting dibs on the Ocean Kayak tandem so they wouldn't have to paddle this one. Point 65 should make a skeg kit to fit in the rearward scupper holes. REI has yet to stock the seatbacks that are needed as well. I would only recommend it if you absolutely have to have it be modular or want an extra workout to paddle in a zig zag to travel the same distance as other kayaks.
    As mentioned, a skeg would help. I use a skeg even on my R5, on flat water.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Bellingham, Wa
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    Quote Originally Posted by grahamfitter View Post
    There is some obvious stuff to check, too:

    The closer the paddle is to the kayak the less you will turn. The paddle doesn't need to be vertical but it probably needs to be steeper than 45 degrees.

    If your hands are different lengths from the blades you'll get more turning affect on one side so make sure you hold the paddle symmetrically.

    Most kayaks will turn one way or the other if you tilt the hull so make sure you keep the hull level as you paddle.

    Similarly if your weight is not reasonably centered front-back you can introduce some instabilities because of the shape of the hull in the water. Get somebody to eyeball how level the kayak is when you're paddling.

    Make sure your head is looking where you want to go.

    Practicing turning is good for learning to paddle in a straight line. Long wide "sweep" strokes work well. If you want to maintain forward momentum then use forward strokes but if you're stopped you can use alternating forward and backward strokes on each side. Try tilting the hull, pushing with the same foot as the hand you paddle (forwards) with to see what affect each has on the way the kayak handles.

    Forward strokes should all be "from your feet to your seat". Backward strokes from the stern to your seat.

    You can use a stern rudder or J stroke to check the turn but it wastes energy by slowing the kayak down. The J stroke is harder because your body is lower to the water than in a canoe so its not as easy to rotate your wrist outwards to get the back of the paddle facing the boat.

    Have fun and keep at it!

    Cheers,
    Graham


    Excellent summation, Graham, and all good advice posted so far.

    Are you using a featherred paddle? I suspect not, but if so, people often do not keep the "offside" paddle blade perpendicular to the boat direction for the entire stroke, so it can be noticeably less efficient than the onside blade.

    Do you have a sweep stroke? Combining a bit of a sweep at the beginning or ending of a forward stroke (simiar in concept to a canoe J stroke) can certainly help. (Or stearn draw as it's called at the end of the stroke)


    7ft planing hulled white water boats can be paddled in a stright line...so

    *Incidently, about 15 years ago the BCU (and the ACA about 10) have denounced the "pushing" of the top arm to be oldschool out of date technique for a variety of reasons. They both have gone with a more racing type slightly bent and basically locked top arm. FWIW.
    Last edited by T.Low; 08-03-2010 at 06:14 PM.
    Life is short, Paddle often
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