Kayaking Technique Forum

Find advice on all aspects of kayaking and using small boats on big water

Paddling backwards

This is a technique bulletin board, so I'd like to kick off a pure technique
question.

I go out every now and then and paddle backwards for a mile or so. My goal
is to develop a fast, efficient backwards stroke that I could use for a
full day of paddling (yes, this is truely nutty, but thats just another example
of how crazy I am).

To my surprise, its really hard!!!! By the time I've covered my mile, my
arm and chest muscles really ache. It also stresses the cardiovascular system
-- which is great for training, but not for a day of paddling.

I've played with different ways of doing the stroke. The ACA stroke (at least
the one I was told to use when teaching an ACA course) is as follows:

1. Start wound up as if for a backwards sweep, but have the paddle's back

face down.
2. Push straight down with the paddle and stroke forward right along the

side of the boat.
3. Exit by the feet slicing straight out of the water. On exit, the paddle

should be parallel to the axis of the boat and out over the water. This

means the upper arm is reaching out over the side of the boat.

This stroke is really powerful, but it uses alot of arm motion to keep
the paddle over the stroke side of the boat.

I've also tried the most common backwards stroke I've seen. In this one, a
backwards stroke is the first half of a sweep. The paddle sweeps out from the
boat so the energy is wasted in a yaw motion. If a boat doesn't track well
going backwards, and many of them don't, the yaw motion gets out of control and
you need big sweep strokes to keep going straight. However, arm and chest
muscles are saved as you aren't reaching out over the side of the boat. It also
uses considerably less energy since the stroke is mostly torso.

I've also tried a white water style reverse stroke (see Eric Jackson's excellent
white water paddling technique book for details) in which the paddle enters
near vertical and exits nearly vertical. This is sort of like a forward
stroke in reverse. Its smooth, but uses alot of arm and chest muscle and
doens't give you very powerful strokes. It does, however, seem to give the
most precise control of the boat (which is not surprising since control is
what the white water strokes are all about).

I've tried every combination of the above as well and while I'm getting much
better at my reverse padding, I still am not satisfied -- especailly when you
bring backwards correction strokes into the mix (but that's a later topic).

What do people use on this list? Anyone have a unique backwards stroke that
might fit my needs?

--Tim

Messages In This Thread

Paddling backwards
Re: Paddling backwards
Re: Paddling backwards
Turning with back stroke (Was: Paddling backwards
Re: Turning with back stroke (Was: Paddling backwa
Re: Paddling backwards
It's a good thing I practiced it...
Re: Paddling backwards
Re: Why would anyone want to...
Re: Paddling backwards
Re: Paddling backwards
Re: Paddling backwards