The Bent-Shaft Advantage

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Efficient Paddling

For most of us at camp, canoeing means sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying nature’s beauty. But for some paddle enthusiasts, speed and efficiency matter more than anything. That’s why we’re sharing a quick review of efficient paddling techniques.

The Bent-Shaft Paddle

Intuitively, we may think the blade of a bent-shaft should be pointing back at us when we paddle, acting like a water grabbing spoon. In fact, the paddle should be flipped the other way around. Why is this? The answer is simple: we get the most efficient strokes when the paddle blade is at a 90-degree angle in the water. To understand this a bit better, look at the pictures below which show side-views of some paddles in water.

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Any time a paddle isn’t at an exact 90-degree angle with the water, some of your paddling effort goes toward pushing the boat up or pulling it down instead of pushing it forward.

For most people using a straight-shaft paddle, paddle strokes usually look like the last photo where the paddle is pulling water up out of the lake. The bent shaft overcomes this issue by adjusting for our natural tendency to have this kind of paddle form, as seen in the following picture.

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When properly using a bent-shaft paddle, our natural and comfortable strokes work at a higher level of efficiency, not pulling water up or pushing it down!