Wednesday May 05th 2016
This kind of paddling is efficiency oriented and the goal is to make the boat go fast. The boats are long and narrow; they track very well and have poor initial stability, so they feel tippy when you first get in one. You’ll get used to it!
The Marathon paddling stroke is very different from a recreational stroke. It is shorter, much quicker, and does not use steering strokes the same way.
There are three main phases of the stroke:
The catch (putting your blade in the water) happens as far as you can reach in front of you while still being able to plant your entire blade in the water. You can either “stab” it in, or “slide” it in from the side. It should be clean and quick. Think of it as anchoring your blade.
The power phase is when you pull the boat towards your paddle. Notice I said pull the boat, not push the water! Big difference. This should be quiet; no turbulent water gurgling around your blade. Use your core muscles for power, not your arms. If your abs are sore at the end of the paddle, you are doing it right!
As soon as the paddle passes your knees you should pull it out of the water. It shouldn’t go past your hip. The recovery is extremely quick, as you gain no forward momentum with your blade out of the water.
Paddlers switch sides every 5-10 strokes on average. This keeps the boat going straight without the need for a J-stroke. Paddlers switch sides simultaneously when a “hut” is called. It is usually the stern paddler who calls the huts.