Get the boat up to cruising speed, running straight. Close your eyes and try to continue paddling straight. Have a partner act as your eyes to keep you from paddling into some immovable object, or being run over by a very moveable object. Have your partner call “Stop? if you move more than 90 degrees off course. Does the boat veer to one side? Repeat the process several times; if the boat consistently veers to the same side, try to figure out why. There should be symmetry between sides in the following areas: how hard you pull, blade entry position, blade exit position, how far from the side of the boat the blade travels, foot pressure, grip on the shaft, degree of edge(no edge obble is desirable).
What most paddlers find:
Everybody veers. The most symmetric paddlers will veer randomly, sometimes left, sometimes right. It’s due, in part, to the fact that once a kayak starts to turn a little bit, it wants to turn more and more. Newer paddlers will make more macro-corrections to stay on course. As experience increases we begin making more micro-corrections.
Lessons to learn:
Identifying asymmetry in your stroke, and reducing it, will increase your efficiency and reduce fatigue levels. There’s no shortcut to moving from macro-corrections to micro-corrections other than “boat time?. In order for a micro-correction to be effective, it must be applied at the instant it is needed. If a paddler needs to take the time to process the thought of “Oh, I’m veering off course, I need to add a correction into my forward stroke?— then it’s too late: now you’ll need a macro-correction. Micro-corrections are those that would be barely perceptible to someone watching you paddle; such as exerting slightly more force on one side, slightly widening the stroke on one side, adding a bit of edge. Someone watching a macro-correction would see an obvious change to the forward stroke, perhaps a sweep, rudder or multiple forward strokes on the same side.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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