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"Toward Paddling Perfection": David Hearn on Forward Strokes

Open or decked canoes: racing in the froth

"Toward Paddling Perfection": David Hearn on Forward Strokes

Postby GregS » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:56 am

David Hearn offers one of the best online guides to the forward stroke: Toward Paddling Perfection: How to get the most out of the Forward Stroke

  • Introduction
  • The Correction
  • The Recovery
  • Basics of the Forward Stroke
  • The Rudder/Pry
  • Starting From a Standstill
  • The Windup
  • The J-Stroke
  • C2 and Open Boat Techniques
  • The Catch
  • Switching Sides
  • Paddle Length
  • The Pull-Through
  • Cross-bow Forward Strokes
  • Conclusion
Hearn notes that forward paddling is going to be somewhat style/boat dependent, but also stresses "finding a personal version of the perfect stroke" - a take that perhaps allows for variation in how low we drop our onside shoulder, and in the way we involve our lower torso (stomach and hips, including any pelvic thrust).

Hearn also stands out from the crowd in acknowledging the comparative priority of bio-mechanical efficiency (with the grip hand inside the gunwale) and hydro-dynamic efficiency (from stacked hands). Of course, the trade off may not be the same in all situations (and may even change quite dramatically as one switches direction relative to the wind) - perhaps one reason to take on board his notion that "the perfect forward stroke is an ideal that we strive for but never reach" :o

The wind-up phase is well described: few resources stress that we should "originate the twist from the legs" and that "forward lean should result from bending at the hips [rather than] the middle or upper back". As Emmanuel Brugvin (with the great visuals) noted in the already mentioned explanation:

Avoid rotating the shoulders, which has the nasty tendency to cause the pelvis to twist, and therefore to weight the knee on that side as a support [and] keep both the hips and the shoulders in the same axis [as] the lower shoulder can be extended forward without twisting the shoulders (and without pulling the upper shoulder back).

I'd perhaps like more on connectivity with the hull, and the value of driving through the off-side knee. For acceleration purposes, questions remain for me about hinging and falling onto the blade (as per Kamani Jain) rather than of simply pushing down with the top hand.. though that means stressing that body-weight is transferred directly to the blade and NOT through the knees (and hence to the bows, which would cause boat bobble).

Kelvin Horner notes in his Sweet-Skills articles that this stroke remains "the first to learn and the last to master". Hearn perhaps offers the even more intriguing notion that true "mastery" is even more elusive than that!
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Re: "Toward Paddling Perfection": David Hearn on Forward Str

Postby GregS » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:44 pm

Posts: 345
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:42 pm

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