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Purpose > Technique > Equipment!

What we want do on the water and how we communicate it

Purpose > Technique > Equipment!

Postby GregS » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:00 pm

Ultimately, however, to move upon the water, no special equipment is necessary. You can use a technique called swimming [...]
But what if your body were more fluidly shaped—say, twice as long, half as wide, no appendages—and to help you better cut the water [...] What if you had a hand six times as big, with the ideal shape for propelling you and the strength of your entire torso behind it


Depending on our purpose, we might then choose our techniques (including stance) we would like to use before (finally) selecting the equipment best suited to our purposes:

Whilst this site is devoted to the single blade... that choice should ideally be determined as part of discussion of purpose.

  1. Sitting low with a double blade: easy... but introduces issues of river reading and effectiveness of control and corrective strokes.
  2. Sitting higher: improves visibility... adds more reach/effectiveness... opens up bent shaft, sit 'n' switch paddling... but it ain't as stable, and even with a bucket seat and adjustable foot pegs, it ain't fantastic for boat control.
  3. Kneeling: facilitates a longer reaches and movements improve control at the cost of cadence, and hence speed, and squaring the blade to the stroke on draws, etc. - but adds finite control of heel, improve turning control (maximised in a canoe that "fits" the paddler in terms of seat height and hull width.
  4. High Kneeling: see Sprint Canoeing

One purpose is established, choice of technique and stance might lead on to specific paddle requirements... with single-blade options ranging from the ultralight bent shaft paddle made from carbon-fibre through to any of a wide range of straight paddles (including some optimised for creeking use on "wet mountain bike rides", and others better suited to wrenching one's guts out from a high-kneeling stance).

Last but not least, our "single blade" craft might range from slalom C1s through specialist white water playboats and creeking boats to "sport" canoes and specialist touring boats (de-tuned, more seaworthy, USCA racers that allow skilled paddlers to cover miles fast; sitting with a bent paddle) and sprint canoes: the range of possibilites is huge!
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Re: Purpose > Technique > Equipment!

Postby GregS » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:01 pm

Here, the Purpose > Technique > Equipment sequence is eloquently presented by Patrick Moore...

For an example of the subordination of equipment to technique and of the canoe to the paddle, imagine that your purpose for canoeing is simply to travel. Also suppose that you also want to invest as little time as possible in learning new skills, so you decide that the steering technique you use will be to simply switch sides every few strokes. Then you observe that you can maintain a straighter course if you switch sides after every stroke. You realize that it would be less cumbersome to execute this technique if only you had one blade dedicated to each side of your canoe—so you invent a double-bladed paddle.

Sitting high on your canoe seat, you find yourself flailing the air with the recovering blade on your long double-bladed paddle, and realize that for every inch closer to the water that you sit, you can make your double-bladed paddle two inches shorter. So you sit on the bottom of your canoe and shorten the paddle to a manageable length. The problem now, however, is that you keep banging your elbows on the gunwales!

You resolve that the solution is to make the sides of the canoe lower in order to keep the gunwales out of your way so you can more easily reach the water. But that creates yet another problem—with the sides so low, your canoe has become very unseaworthy, and water keeps splashing in. To solve this final problem, you put a deck on your canoe. What do you have? A kayak.

Kayaks are not propelled with double-bladed paddles by some whimsical choice— they were designed (consciously or not) for double-bladed paddles. This is a good schematic example of how purpose determines technique, which determines the paddle design, which determines the boat design. You can't rightly shuffle that deck.

See Moore Canoeing School Skills Philosophy
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