bent-shaft paddle
The bent-shaft paddle is to canoeing what clap skates, speed suits and aero bars are to their respective sports: a leap forward in efficiency and speed. But technology is nothing without the right technique. Most bent-shaft novices use their arms too much; each stroke should feel more like a full-body workout.

1. Reach. If you’re paddling on the right side, rotate your upper body until your chest is facing to the left. Plant your left butt cheek, then allow the right cheek to move forward a little while reaching with your right hand until your elbow is just slightly bent. Picture your torso winding up like a spring.

2. Stab. Thrust the blade into the water like you’re spearing a fish. Let your upper body uncoil, rotating to the right from your belly button. The torso should move as one unit—imagine hugging an exercise ball throughout the motion. The stroke should accelerate from first gear when the paddle hits the water to fourth gear as it nears your hip.

3. Push. Engage your lower body by pushing down and forward with your right foot, driving your stroke’s energy into the boat.

4. Pause. Pull the blade out of the water at your hip, no further. Relax, let the boat run, and set up for another stroke.


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