Each of us has our own unique style of forward paddling, and yours may differ from the "textbook perfect" forward stroke -- but it is all yours. We can each improve our own style, often without changing it radically.
Through a series of experiments, we will examine several variables that will help create the forward stroke that is most effective and efficient for your body. First you need to set a benchmark, so you can quantify any changes in performance. Pick a distance of at least a quarter mile but not more than 1 mile. Paddle it once at a normal cruising speed; time yourself and count strokes. Next, paddle it again as fast as you can. Record your times, and number of strokes, and then begin the experiments below.
The following experiments are best performed with a partner. If you just can't find anyone to go play with, you can time yourself using a watch and some buoys. The best results will be obtained if you and your partner paddle two boats of similar size; a 14ft light tourer partnered with a 19ft racing hull won't provide much useful information. Using paddles of similar length will also increase the accuracy of the results. The experiments should be conducted in the calmest conditions available, to eliminate the effect of wind and waves.
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