Wednesday July 20th 2016
There is a great article about bow paddlers and stern paddlers written by Holly Reynolds here:
We tend to slot paddlers into two categories, which Holly labels “Bow Jock” and “Stern Runt”. The stereotype is: the meat in the front of the boat and the brains in the back.
It’s true that the stronger paddler usually goes in the bow – it’s where the power is most useful. We also stick rookies there too because it’s generally easier to control the boat from the stern than the bow. But don’t let that fool you.
The bow paddler not only has to provide horsepower, they have a whole lot of other jobs. They need to be aware of obstacles and opportunities, set the right cadence for the paddling situation, hold the forward-and-back position of the boat while wash riding, crank in crossbows with an offside lean, fine tune the steering, and be able to anticipate and assist with whatever the stern paddler is trying to do. (In other words, be mind readers.)
The stern paddler’s job is to maximize the power in the boat by getting it in the right position and matching the bow’s stroke so there is the best possible glide in the boat. They put their muscle in too, but their head is wrapped around the whole situation and like chess players they are playing the game 5 moves ahead. They will be planning moves far in advance that put them on the right side of a buoy turn, for example.
Paddling with someone else is like a marriage. You rely on each other. There are roles to play. There is the expectation that your partner knows exactly what you are thinking at all times. There are fights.
Respect and communication are the keys to success. There is no better way to appreciate everything your partner does until you are literally in their seat. Every stern paddler should paddle bow sometimes, and vice versa.
Try this regularly. You’ll think twice next time you feel like throwing the wedding china at your partner’s head.