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.
- Sitting low with a double blade: easy... but introduces issues of river reading and effectiveness of control and corrective strokes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!