Paddling Technique

An outrigger is pulled not pushed through the water. To do this paddlers need to reach out, grab the water and drag the canoe forward. Most blades also have a bend (usually around 10 degrees, held with the blade bending away from the paddler) which increases the lift of the blade as it enters the water. This effectively pulls and lifts the canoe to decrease the canoe surface area and the water resistance. Lift is achieved by focusing power at the front of the stroke.
Teamwork, Seat 1 and 2 Kahe
The paddle should exit the water when it reaches the paddlers mid thigh to hip. Extending the stroke beyond this point decreases the lift generated and increases drag. Synchronised paddling; with all paddles entering and exiting the water at the same time and all paddlers using the same technique; provides the maximum pull and lift for the minimum effort. This can only be achieved through developing a consistent paddling technique both individually and as team, it requires practice.

Rotating from the hips allows paddlers to apply leverage and deliver maximum pull through the water. Twisting the upper body instead of using the arms utilises stronger muscle groups and minimises fatigue. This reach and twist motion requires flexibility. Locking the lower body and arms also results in less rocking of the canoe creating a consistent streamlined hull. Paddlers should maintain a straight line up the spine, twisting around this plane, with heads up and all in a row. The optimum degree of lean (forward) is influenced by the paddler. Smaller paddlers may use a dynamic approach where they lean forward a little (10-30 degrees) at the start of the stroke to increase reach and then straighten during the stroke to provide power. Others should focus on a static approach with minimum lean and no forward/backward body movement. Inappropriate lean increases lower back stress and should never be excessive, larger paddlers should always adopt a static style.

Paddling technique is continually under review and development. Consequently there are a wide range of differing ideas about what constitutes good technique, however everyone agrees that all paddlers in a canoe should have the same technique. The following Paddling Phases can be used as a general guide.

Set Up Phase

The stroke commences.

Entry Phase

Plant the blade. Push the blade cleanly into the water.
SetUp, race start

Catch Phase

This phase commences once the full blade is in the water and can be considered as the preparation for the power phase. It delivers lift to the canoe and minimises drag on the canoe. Pull the canoe through the water.

Power Phase

The blade is now aligned with the maximum surface area and the canoe is ready to absorb the surge of power. Pull with power.
Power Phase

Exit Phase

This phase occurs once the blade reaches the mid-thigh to hip. Leaving the blade in the water past this point increases drag.

Recovery Phase

Return the paddle to the Set Up Phase.
Panamuna Outrigger Canoe Club