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PostPosted: June 11th, 2005, 9:30 am 
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Rolf Kraiker wrote:
John Marshall wrote:
The next time you are out on some fast smooth water, find a spot where it is all you can do to maintain your place.. Then go to switching, I am willing to bet you will go forward.

That's one bet you'd loose :-). I'm 55 years old and I've been paddling since I was a kid. I've spent that time really refining my ability to get the most out of paddling without switching sides, I've spent very little time refining an abilty to Hut. I can guarantee you that I'd get farther in the water by holding the paddle in a paddling on left side of boat position than I would switching back and forth regardless of what you stuck me in. What would be a more fair comparison would be to have someone like PK attempt that experiment or meet me on a river somewhere and have us both attemp the same stretch of water in the same canoe. In that situation you might be able to pull ahead of me, but I wouldn't recommend putting money on it :-)


Rolf, I'm not sure I'm the guy to do the switching back and forth either. I paddle about 95% of the time on my right. I only switch sides when I paddle flatwater in an attempt to make tracks. My right stroke is significantly stronger than my left so I loose some efficiency on that side.

PK


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2005, 10:25 am 
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PK- your strong side is your right and Rolf your strong side is your left. I am curious are you left handed PK? Rolf are you right handed? I am right handed and prefer paddling on the left side. Lately though I have forced myself to do most of my paddling on the right to build up my strength. I figured out in tandem racing that my right side was really weak from paddling on the left all the time.


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2005, 1:51 pm 
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John Marshall wrote:
PK- your strong side is your right and Rolf your strong side is your left. I am curious are you left handed PK? Rolf are you right handed? I am right handed and prefer paddling on the left side. Lately though I have forced myself to do most of my paddling on the right to build up my strength. I figured out in tandem racing that my right side was really weak from paddling on the left all the time.

I'm right handed. My wife is also right handed as are out two sons. Debra prefers paddling on the right side of the boat because she learned to paddle on the side I didn't prefer as much. Our boys are fairly ambidexterous because they'd alternate between us. My left side isn't "stronger", both sides are fairly even in that regard. What I have more of when paddling left is finese on the control of the paddle. I can squese a bit more out of that side because my fine motor control is better. I paddle on my offside a lot when I have students in the canoe with me and they prefer the same side I do. The only time I override their preference is if we're going to attempt a tricky bit of white water. I can usually recover just about any mistake a student might make, but the chance of success is much higher if I paddle on my instictive side. Once the tricky bit is over, I let them switch back. I can paddle well enough on my off side that I often do style paddling demos for students but I don't attempt to be as agressive on my offside as I would on my normal side.


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2005, 1:12 pm 
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I'm just going to through out a bit of a challenge to this topic, (Knowing that I never switch sides, and agree wit Rolf, when teaching I do not like to see students changing once they are underway)

But, Kent Ford is notorious for switching and is one of the best paddlers in the world, slalom or WW.

His videos promote systomatically switching through out the day so you don't develop an offside, but also promote practicing all strokes both on and offside to have a full tool kit.

Why is it that we (At least in Ontario) promote only paddling on oneside, If we could paddle both sides it would cut down on the repeditive strain injuries we all seem to develop.

(The few times I bothered to try to paddle solo on my offside I ended up switching hands under water to roll back up :doh: )


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2005, 2:05 pm 
I just finished another solo WW class yesterday and my excellent instructor strongly advocates and practices switching as necessary. But an earlier instructor gave me hell for switching sides. Having started on tandem flatwater and then gotten into racing many years ago switching seems like the natural thing to do. On flatwater most people will go faster if they can efficiently switch sides and even go slightly zigzagging along their line of travel than using any kind of dragging correction stroke that keeps you on a perfectly straight course. Going upstream on my local Wolf River it's either switch sides or you won't go upstream. (not counting ferrying/eddy hopping or poling). The downstream flow accentuates the braking power of any slight correction stroke no matter how much finesse one uses. Obviuosly the canoe you're paddling would make a difference too - a heavily rockered WW canoe you need to use more C''s or some type of J / pry drag stroke.. Why put the brake on with every stroke when you're trying to go forward? I sometimes seem to unconsiously work against myself as it is - why do it consciously too? Is there a paddle that has an in-bent shaft that would favor getting the blade under the canoe on your strong side? That could help. I wonder if any historical records contain traditionally favored methods used by Ojibway, Cree, Malecite, etc.?


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2005, 2:49 pm 
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Steward R wrote:
Why is it that we (At least in Ontario) promote only paddling on oneside, If we could paddle both sides it would cut down on the repeditive strain injuries we all seem to develop.

Probably has a lot to do with the "Canadian Style" tradition. I think you become a much better paddler if you are ambidexterous - as good on either side, but I'm not sure that's attainable for everyone though. Most people develop a preference of some kind and people who are equally adept at either side (my kids are an example) often have something about their brain make up that lets them feel comfortable on both side. Both my kids have at least some dyslexia in their make up and their idea of "normal" is different than mine. While they don't find reading and writing as easy as I do, they do physical things like riding a snowboard equally well forwards or backwards while I look like a pro going my normal direction and a rank amature going the other. When I'm teaching, I try to evaluate a person's abilities to be ambidexterous (have my kids to thank for that). If it looks like they're challenged in that regard, I strongly enocourage them not to switch. If it doesn't seem to matter to them, I'm less likely to mention it unless they're stuggling.

I stayed with Kent Ford one year when he was at Canoecopia as we were hosted in the same place. He's a really great guy and very unassuming. You'd never know that he's the calibre of paddler that he is by talking to him. I used to think different based on the way he comes across on the videos, but after meeting him in person I changed my opinion. To me he sounded a little preachy in the videos but after meeting him that's probably more a reflection of his extremely comprehensive knowledge than his personality. I encourage people to check out the videos as there's a lot of good content there.


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2005, 3:08 pm 
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I think we`re talking about two diferent methods here..... as both Rolf and Stewards have said there`s nothing wrong with switching sides, but doing so before you get under way. Yes building the ability to paddle on both sides is going to help you a great deal, and yes minimizing stern control strokes will greatly speed up the boat ( canoe ) in a white water situation. If you`ve ever watched C1 paddlers in w/w you`ll notice that there is no stern correction, all the corrections are done in the bow of the boat, with either bow draws cross bow draws or duffeks. All these corrections are none negative strokes. So combined with clean short rapid forward strokes the boat will not lose any hull speed.

But using the hut in a w/w situation is not the thing to be doing, the bottom line is that you have more paddle air time when switching sides, and air time means that you don`t have an effective brace while paddling, :o ( don`t forget the forward stroke is a brace.) :wink:

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PostPosted: June 13th, 2005, 3:16 pm 
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I agree with Rolf in that the Canadian Style tradition in which you are using a tandem boat for solo use makes it impractical to reach over the boat and do cross strokes helps cement the practice of staying on one side to make the boat move in any direction.
From what I understand in childrens camps in Ontario in the thirties and since camp fleets consisted of tandem boats period. Also Canadians being practical folks would like one boat to perform multiple tasks . (I know that all Canadians do not think this way so it is a generality) and often only have one boat.

I am very much a whitewater learner and have a more instinctual side and find that switching just doesnt work very well for me. Maybe in the future.

However tweaking that angle so that you can get up whitewater without using any correction stroke and just relying on a power stroke is a learning experience for me. Sometimes I can and sometimes I miss. Its a wonderful experience to get upstream with power strokes on one side just as it is to beat upwind using non correction strokes on one side, but the wind is more forgiving; usually you can fix that angle if its not right.


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 Post subject: switching sides
PostPosted: June 14th, 2005, 5:39 am 
I am right handed, and prefer to paddle on my right side, that is
also my strongest side. I can paddle on my left side well enough to
go 'fast forward', but my braces on that side just aren't
trustworthy enough -- in difficult situations I really prefer my
right side. I just wish I could paddle on my left side as well,
as it would be such an advantage when ferrying.

Shane wrote:
[...]
>On flatwater most people will go faster if they can efficiently
>switch sides and even go slightly zigzagging along their line of
>travel than using any kind of dragging correction stroke that keeps
>you on a perfectly straight course.

On the long run I can paddle faster when switching when needed indeed,
but I can -- I think -- paddle faster when paddling on one side only,
only I cannot sustain that power for a long time.
I can efficiently switch sides in a canoe like my 18' Jensen,
and I sure use that technique when I want (or need...) to go as fast as
possible. But at my normal touring speed and stroke rate, I have enough
time to use some correction movement in my paddle stroke that
makes switching for course correction unnecessary for me. Also
I just do not like that constantly "hit and switch" when it
is not really necessary, and therefore I won't use it then.
Also I doubt that it would make me really go faster if I switched then.
If I want to go faster, I have to raise my stroke rate and add more
power. And then, at a certain stroke rate I do not have enough time
for course correction anymore and I will have to switch, if I want
to go fast(er) without paddling much harder. (In a flatwater C-1
you cannot switch for course correction, and then you just
have to paddle harder.)

Some time ago some so called 'survival race' people asked me how to
paddle fast(er) in a canoe. I learned them hit and switch, but they
were very reluctant to believe that was the way to go fast.
(Probably because they had paddling lessons before from a famous marathon
kayaker here, who calls himself a canoe trainer, who learned
them the 'real' way to paddle a canoe...)
When I talked to them sometime later, they told me they did not use
switching because it wasn't fast(er) for them. I was surprised about
that, so the next time they had a race, I went to see how that went, and
there I discovered that the average speed they had on the 30 km
canoeing course (18.5 miles) was only about 8 km/h (5 mph)
with no wind at all... Lesson learned for me: at that speed
and stroke rate, switching was probably not making them fast(er)
enough. Although my guess is that they just did not really try/train
it seriously enough too, because of their lessons from that marathon
kayaker :-(grmbl)
Switching only works well, when you are doing it well,
as pknoerr wrote so well some time ago in this forum.
Well, we just have to wait until a really good paddling team (that
does use switching) starts to make big differences in this race
where you have to walk, bike, skeeler, canoe and kayak several
distances: <http://www.adventure-support.nl>
> I wonder if any historical records contain traditionally favored
>methods used by Ojibway, Cree, Malecite, etc.?

I have read somewhere (but don't remember where now, possibly "Bark
Canoe and Skin boats" of Adney and Chapelle?) that the Inuit used
switching in their 'baidarka' kayaks when paddling with single blade
paddles.

Dirk Barends


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PostPosted: June 16th, 2005, 7:33 pm 
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Location: Wenatchee, WA
Shane-
Thanks for helping me out, It seems the predominant mood here is :tsk: to switching. I think I did not make myself clear enough when I started this post.
1. I am not talking about paddling downriver. I am only talking about switching when either moving upstream or doing a ferry accross. 2. I am not talking about major white water. Rolf is a far more experienced paddler than me, and is able to get by with less correction by getting his paddle under the boat. I do not have the skill to do that. From my own experience, and I have tried this numerous times, when working my way upstream, and I am not making any headway at all doing the J stroke, I am able to move ahead by switching. I end up switching about every three strokes and take a zig zag course. I do have some practice switching from racing, and I have a strong stroke on either side. Like I said earlier, if I am stuck on an island with a perilous drop right below me, I am going to bet my life on switching and not the J or the Canadian stroke.


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PostPosted: June 16th, 2005, 11:23 pm 
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John,

I have been lurking on this discussion for a while.

Your logic is not holding up, and the experts here are trying to politely point that out. You say you don't have the skill, but that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You could develop the skill fairly quickly with some expert instruction plus practice. The "J" is a beginner stroke. There are more refined modifications of it which improve efficiency on one side. And goon strokes or stern prys are part of the essential suite of strokes that set you up in a solo playboat for acceleration using slicing recovery J's or Canadian's. Gooning, while arresting acceleration initially, can be used to great advantage by extending the effective edge of the boat deeper, or creating a new edge on the upstream edge on a weak side ferry. Accelerate out of the eddy on a weak side ferry, get that downstream edge down, but stay on the side and insert the blade down upstream and feel that extra new edge be grabbed by the current and the paddle will push you across faster, sometimes with no downstream loss of river.

I am assuming using off-side strokes is still not "switching sides" based on your definition. The same hand is staying on the grip and shaft.

For those serious about improving, why not take a course? Hire an expert for a one-on-one solo lesson. You obviously value this activity so I am confident it is within your budget to pay for an upgrade. It is worth it.

I was extremely lucky to be to be taught by master paddlers when I was a kid at canoe camp, and to be mentored in modern whitewater playboat techniques later in life, and I took courses. The solo techniques you are saying you must do in your solo upstream situation simply have not been born out to be the best. There is a reason why staying on your strong side and doing off-side strokes is very, very efficient.

I WW paddle with a well-respected instructor. We do solo WW playboating. Occasionally he will initiate a ferry by switching to his weaker side to get that downstream side advantage for a ferry. But he is a master paddler and stays on that other weak side to complete the move. When he achieves the desired location in the current for whatever complex move he is doing, he will switch back to his "strong" side. I don't classify this as switching sides. He is mostly ambidextrous, and utilizing the best side to his advantage, but he mostly uses his strong side.

In WW playboating, I stay exclusively on my strong side (using off side strokes too), and I know I have more paddle in the water providing more power per unit time on those upstream moves than someone who would switch sides every three strokes or so. And like Al mentioned, the “air time” is just not useful. It is also not safe when doing must-make moves. When you get really good on your strong side your paddle is in the water most of the time powering the boat, and providing that brace like Al mentioned. The correction factor on the same side is not a liability. The limiting factor is air time.

I suggest practicing to get better rather than giving up and acquiring "bad" habits. Ya, I know it works for you now, but there are better ways. The fun thing about WW open boating is that there is no end of improvement potential. No matter how good you are now, there is way, way more room to get better. Every time I get cocky and think I have mastered technique, I get humbled very quickly.


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PostPosted: June 17th, 2005, 6:26 am 
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Let's not forget that, just as the best canoe is the one you have, the best strokes are the ones that get you there. Sometimes I don't use "proper" technique, but I'm happy to be out in my boat, staying upright, and enjoying the day. I think there is a difference in strokes to try when training, and strokes to use when you are just out there moving forward in an upright position. When practicing/training I may focus on technique. But when paddling on my own in some remote location "pushing the envelope" on my technique is less of a priority. I still try to avoid moving the paddling in ways that increase the risk of injury, but if switching sides gets me up into that next eddy, I'm still happy to get there.

One other mildly tangental note on "strong sides" and injuries:

Twenty-five years ago when I was in college our school had some world class K1 and C1 paddlers. The C1 folks were all visibly lopsided in build. In college & after college I had my fair share of back problems & I've learned to take much better care of my spine. For me, part of taking better care of my back & avoiding injury includes keeping the strain on it symetrical. I am still a much stronger L sided paddler, and I paddle on the L. in tricky water, but I try to paddle on the R half the time also.

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 Post subject: Boat ?
PostPosted: June 17th, 2005, 8:29 am 
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I wonder how much the boat you are in determines what technique works best?
My whitewater boats, MR Outrage & Perception Slasher carve nicely and seem to work best with forward and cross forward strokes. My Swift Osprey doesn't seem to carve but responds well to a J stroke. My Clipper Sea1 responds slowly to a J and again doesn't carve (at least for me). That boat is forcing me to learn to switch.


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PostPosted: June 17th, 2005, 8:46 am 
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Hoop Wrote:
Quote:
You could develop the skill fairly quickly with some expert instruction
Hoop- you are right. Problem is nobody teaches in this area. We have a guy who was a qualified ACA WW instructor, but he does not want to teach any more. . We have a really great river in our back yard- the Wenatchee, with a lot of Class II and Class III. There is a steady parade of commercial raft trips all spring and quite a few Yakkers, but hardly anyone canoes it except myself and half a dozen friends. There are no classes and no instructors. I have been trying to learn by reading books and watching Bill Mason videos, but I am only getting so far. I think I have Rolf talked into coming out next spring, which would be great.


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PostPosted: June 17th, 2005, 8:50 am 
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HOOP_ wrote:
John,
Your logic is not holding up, and the experts here are trying to politely point that out. You say you don't have the skill, but that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You could develop the skill fairly quickly with some expert instruction plus practice. The "J" is a beginner stroke.


Hoop, I've had some private discussion with John and it's probably fair to say the opinions expressed contrary to his in this thread made an impression. I suspect that if we ask him again this time next year, his opinion is probably going to be different than what he kicked off this thread with. To be fair, he did present this as an idea he wanted challenged and the contrary opinions expressed have left enough doubt in his mind that he's exploring other options.

I'm gong to make some generalizations about some differences I see between American and Canadian canoeing. These are my unscientific observations and I'd be delighted if our friends south of the border can correct anything they disagree with.

First observation is that novice paddlers on both sides of the border aren't much different, you only have to spend a few minutes at a popular jump off point like Canoe Lake in Algonquin to see lots of sloppy technique. Canadians may be more reluctant to seek instruction. I run into the "I don't need to take a course because I'm Canadian, paddling is my heritage" attitude often enough to be reasonably sure it exists. When Canadian paddlers seek help, they're going to be offered tips geared toward a fairly high level of skill, probably following the content now established in the national or provincial standards for instruction. They'll get that kind of guidance at just about any level be it a club, an outfitter or a retailer.

I don't think that's the case south of the border. I had a conversation about why hit and switch technique is so much more common south of the border with a well known American who is responsible for a lot of canoes that get sold in the US. He put it down to sales, "I can show someone how to paddle hit and switch when they're trying out one of my boats and in five min. they feel like they're in control, going where they want to go. That makes them feel comfortable enough to purchase it."

In Canada, sales of canoes doesn't seem to be as tied to technique. I haven't gone around shops to see if the majority suggest CRCA type technique if a customer is having a hard time and wants some pointers, but any time I've been asked to help out in a retail environment that certainly seems to be the case. The long established tradition of paddling is pretty firmly ingrained here.


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