I guess this helps put the "leg drive" question to rest!


Thanks to Mindy!!!

Submitted by Shawn Michael on Sat, 08/23/2008 - 11:16am

I mean in my own mind, wondering if it makes you faster. I know this is a sprint race but generally when I say it would be nice to have a paddle with a bigger blade people say it is because your catch technique sucks or you are a beginner and dont know s#$%.

#1 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 11:48am

The question is, would you be able to keep that up continuously for a long distance race? Imagine the chaffing/rash you'd get from that constant back and forth motion in the seat. Even with Glide or wearing nylon/spandex shorts underneath, you'd still get the heat from the friction produced.

There doesn't have to be that much movement of your behind (especially) in a stationary seat to use legdrive. As mentioned before, you just need to put pressure on the leg that you need the support on while relaxing the other and then switch as you change over. If you watched some of the K1 races in the Olympics, you would have seen legdrive being used as they stroked their way down the course. You would have noticed their knees alternating going up and down.

Same goes for SUP paddling, you put pressure on the side (bracing) while still maintaining the same even foot placement. Some bend at the knee while some don't, but they all benefit from legdrive/bracing to support their core while in the stroke. Plus less movement of their foot placement is one thing less they have to worry about (re-establishing balance) and less waste of energy.

#2 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 12:49pm

How is leg drive a question? Simple physics and physiology says you can't go fast without it.

#3 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:20pm

leg drive can be questioned in th' same manner that ye nereneed t' blink while ye be sleepin'.

#4 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:38pm

The video does not show real 'leg drive', imo.

The V1 have no foot board or anything you can easily push against, it's one hollow tube.

Some guys were wearing rubber shoes to get some grip, some put a rubber mat into the boat.

I guess by 'jumping' forward as in the video you get more pressure on the seat and on the feet and with that more friction - and overall a better transfer of the force for the forward movement.

The seats are just as slippery as the floor.

It is not easy to transfer your energy if you are not used to paddle these boats; the video shows how it can be done very effectively.

It seems that both knees are bent almost simultaneously.

#5 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:10pm


Danny Ching took part in a long distance race/test.

About every hour their average speed dropped; they changed the paddles and continued with a blade 1/4 (?1/2) inch narrower - hull speed went up by 1/2 knot/h after every change and they were able to hold that new speed for about another hour.

AFAIK, they started with 9 1/2, then 9 1/4, 9 and 8 3/4 or 1/2. The report is somewhere published on the internet.

Just give him a call and see what he thinks about blade size these days.

Physically a larger paddle is more effective - more mass of water /volume per stroke - and in sprint this holds true in real life.

Over long distance a large blade will fatigue your paddle specific muscles earlier, even though your overall energy consumption may be less.

#6 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:21pm

The article Eckhart is referring to is here in the Locker

Cheers Rambo

#7 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:58pm

All - most :) - good things can be found in Rambo's locker - thank you for the update.

#8 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 6:06pm

You are welcome my friend, it's halfway down the page.

Cheers The Locker Man

#9 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 6:13pm

True about Danny but dont they use these big paddles successfully in long events as well? I can feel it, at the start of a 3 hour paddle I cavitate a lot more and by the end I am too weak to do much of that so it would be ideal to switch. When I met up with the easter island team, all of their paddles had bigger blades than my lanikai which is kialoas biggest, they said they always use those big paddles reguardless.

I did not know that about the design of the V1 I figured they had a big wall in there to push off!

I just thought it was amazing how much the boat was bouncing and how much lower body and that upper body "wave" was involved. Not sure if it was the camera angle but he looked to smoke the field!

#10 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 8:30pm

P.S. It would be great if Danny or Chris Stobal would call me back so I can spend some money on brushing up my paddling since I live right near his club, no luck though. Best coaches are right here on OCP so I just need to get a video up and listen.



#11 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 8:34pm

BTW per the videos on Rambos site I dont see leg drive in Dannys paddling as it is much more obvious with Kai and others. Anyway thanks for the comments and articals

#12 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 8:36pm

Shawn, why not join his club???


#13 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 9:40pm

I cannot make the practice times or commit to a schedule because I am often "on call" for work or work all night so I dont fit in and have to prioritize work right now. Being the top local club I feel that without that commitment it would not work out. There is a public dock a few hundred meters away and that is where I start from, works fine.

#14 Sat, 08/23/2008 - 10:42pm

shawn, yer aim ortin' ta be t' nerecavitate, e'en when ye be fresh. pull as hard as ye can without causin' cavitation. also, swabbies be havin' th' common belief that they be pullin' th' paddle through th' water. nay so, they be stickin' th' paddle in th' water 'ere 't ortin' ta remain still, an' th' canoe ortin' ta be pulled past th' stationary blade. so th' reason a large blade feels like 't requires more effort be that ye be havin' less energy bein' spilled off an' around th' edges o' a larger blade while 't sticks in th' water.

#15 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 6:55am

Thanks jc. What has helped that is the advice not to pull hard on the paddle right from the start but to add acceleration through the stroke kinda like when you do a powerclean, you dont rip the bar off the floor you get it going then accelerate. When I put up a video maybe some other problem will show up.

#16 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 10:06am

Look up the 'Excalibur' - unfortunately it is not a OC paddle but a dragon boat paddle - it is set up to record the deflection of the blade during your pull. You can then interpret your results on screen.

If there is an electronic genius out there, I'd like to know how difficult this would be to rebuild for an OC paddle.

It is done with a strain gage, a Wheatstone bridge, an AD converter plus an amplifier as well as a blue tooth transmitter.
The hardware/software for display can be done with National Instruments.

Rambo, are you fit in that area ?

#17 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 7:49pm

I don't have blue teeth, i would never cross a Wheatstone Bridge and last time i looked i was DC so no chance of converting. Maybe Poopoo could help with the strain gage.
Sorry Eckkie.


#18 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:09pm

Rambo, I see that your DC-ness poses a real problem here ...

There is a white paper from an Australian University that describes an entire setup for a kayak that can measure trim, roll, acceleration, GP etc and also pressure on the blades.
title ... system for kayak ... ???

For someone that knows a little about electronics it cannot be too difficult; I have to pass on this one, too.

It would be neat if you could compare the pressure curves of the individual paddler's pull of your OC 6 team on screen and maybe optimize performance.

I don't dare asking poopoo - he seems quite strained already.

#19 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:20pm

My father-in-law uses the software that will overlay a vid of a rowers with a ghost of an olympic champ so they can see differences in the form and tweak things.

I dont get the dragonboat at all, or how they recruit so many people to do it. Those boats look so inefficient, they make a huge wake and require a ton of power to go 5-6 mph

#20 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:20pm

I don’t dare asking poopoo - he seems quite strained already.

does he have (hemor)RHOID RAGE?

#21 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:28pm

Did you see Real Madrid beat Valencia in the 'Supercopa' - online tv streaming ?

They were 1 man down at 0-1, scored for 1-1, had another expulsion and scored three goals to win 4-2.

I've never seen 9 against 11 score three goals to win in a cup final !
Quite exceptional.

Hala Madrid.

A little off topic.

#22 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:30pm

does he have (hemor)RHOID RAGE?

No, his strain looks healthy - see avatar.

The 'butt aid' makes you wonder, though. Maybe you are right.

#23 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:33pm

I tried that software Shawn, and my perfect Ghost overlay turned out to be Casper .... so much for my technique.


#24 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:34pm

I think the Excalibur as well as this software deserve to be reviewed on Rambo's Locker.

#25 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:37pm

Few comments,

Dannys blade that he used in the finals at Worlds was probably one of the smallest volume blades I've ever used. But using this blade he crushed the first half of the race and then got passed by like 6 Tahitians (surprise I know...)

Also, about a year or so ago I stayed at a guys house who is a buddy of a guy I paddle with and also a technical genius. He was working on exactly what you are talking about above with the electronics for measuring paddle flex and other information. Unfortunately I haven't seen him since or heard anything about the project so I'm not sure what became of it and don't have any way to get ahold of him.

Finally, I paddled in a dragon boat race in long beach a few weeks ago. World Qualification or something I think. I really appreciate changing sides every 20 strokes now.

#26 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:54pm

Here 'tis



#27 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:54pm

I hope the link works: it is about the 'kayak training aids' - google; Australian ministry of sports

#28 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 8:58pm

nb - how small ?

#29 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 9:01pm

And here's the Excalibur video



#30 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 9:03pm

It seems that there's probably something in the shaft that measures flex? Can't be that hard to adapt for paddling. But the question is why? If you know how hard you're pulling then will that allow you to pull harder?

#31 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 9:57pm

nb13 it would seem that the smaller blade would favor the end of the race. Much respect to him for putting it on the line and getting out there.

#32 Sun, 08/24/2008 - 10:43pm

Actually the answer is yes. On bikes we use power meters which measure the actual wattage you produce. They use a strain gauge that measures deflection either at the crank or the rear hub.
So If you're putting out 300 watts, you fight to maintain that, or fight to put out 305, etc. Totally independent of terrain, wind, speed, etc. Just how much power you are actually producing. It really is a good training aid, but costs $$$.

#33 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 6:44am

Ahh makes sense. Interesting. I guess its like GPS showing speed. You paddle harder to maintain higher speed than you normally do. Makes sense.

Off topic jibofo, did you see the Laird Hamilton special about how he trains? They have a group of like 8 guys who mountain bike and they weigh their bikes down to keep them even in trail runs. So laird has like 60 lbs on his bike and ends up burning his brakes on every run. Crazy

#34 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 8:22am

Even better than GPS. If you say 7mph, is that upwind, downwind, smooth choppy, current, etc. If you say 300 watts it removes all the variables. But for the bucks, GPS is a great aid.
Haven't seen the Laird Hamilton bit. Sounds sort of like the guys running along the bottom of Waimea Bay during the summer carrying heavy rocks to keep them down. Way too serious.

#35 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 8:52am


the strain gauge is mounted on the backside of the blade and measures the deflection. For details see the link ' kayak training aid' posted above.

On screen you can see pressure versus time curve; it tells you when the paddler produces max pressure in his stroke; also overall performance etc.

You can see exactly how effectively paddler in 1,2,3 etc seat works under water. You could synchronize the entire crew better.

#36 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 9:52am

OK Yes, now I see the strength of this tool. Very powerful.

#37 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 9:58am

The Excalibur seems to be an okay tool. But, it might have limitations. I’ve installed a few (hundreds) strain gauges on military hardware over the years and have a little insight to they’re operation.
The gauge’s internal impedance changes when the gauge material is deformed, or bent. If you know the physical properties of the material the gauge is mounted to, i.e. type of metal, thickness of the metal and axis of expected material deflection, it’s possible to compute the strain on the material by collecting calibration data of known pressures applied to the material and comparing that data to the data collected during the test.

The problem I see with the application of a strain gauge to a paddle is the ever changing position of the paddler’s lower hand on the shaft and the stroke speed. Sure, you could “peg the needle”, so to speak, by applying a quick, short jerk but as you move your hand up and down the shaft, the deflection of the shaft is going to change and so are the gauge readings because the paddle will bend over a longer area of the shaft as you move your hand up causing the area the gauge is mounted on, to bend less.

I think the application of this paddle would only give you a vague comparison of each paddler’s stroke, not quantifiable stroke by stroke pressure levels and times.

Lihue, Kauai

#38 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 10:59am

Not exactly sure how small the blade Danny raced with was but it was probably about 8" 3/4 or maybe 9" at the most.

#39 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 11:17am

OC 1 Driver

that is very interesting. Do you see a way to work around this ?

The stroke speed could be accounted for by measuring the hull speed and countinng the strokes/min..

On the other hand, you may be able to tell a paddler his optimal stroke speed and hand position ?

#40 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 12:49pm

I think if there was an accelorometer incorporated into the shaft you could get better data on the stroke speed and consistancy.

Lihue, Kauai

#41 Mon, 08/25/2008 - 9:28pm

I'm with Poo; why is leg drive even a question? Try a fixed seat dory than go row a slider, then go paddle an OC you'll naturally want those legs involved. If you had a sliding-seat on an OC1, imagine the power you'd get...Anyway; good vid it illustrated leg push well, among other good techniques. As for going long distance just trim everything back a bit for efficiency; you don't have to move butt back & forth to incorporate solid leg-drive.

As for Dragonboating Shawn; just go hook up with a club and do some practices. I thought OC looked silly until I tried it. Sports are always different when experienced than observing. I tried dragonboats this Summer and had a bunch of fun; good people... 1000 Meter sprints on one side not be for the timid....


#42 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 4:02am

RE: dragonboat it is amazing how many people are involved. I dont know how they recruit so many people. It looks pretty brutal...a lot of really hard work, all on the same side going pretty slow. So I was more meaning they manage to get a lot of bodies in the boat and on the surface it does not look so fun to draw everybody in, but they do it.

#43 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 10:10am

As far as I can see, there are a lot of very successful paddlers who do not use any visiable leg drive and use their weight and the friction of their butt in the seat to stabilize. The leg position and the lack of any leg flexing/movment seems to point to that, but I might be mistaken. The guy in the above vid seems to take it to the next level and when they pan to the guys in the back of the pack I dont think they have that style.

#44 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 10:19am

"As far as I can see, there are a lot of very successful paddlers who do not use any visiable leg drive"

Try to holding your legs up when you paddle. Try doing anythin in a seated position w/o your legs......like cutting a steak.

#45 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 10:23am

Not sure what you mean by slow...Dragonboats move faster than you think...just take your bicycle to the start line of a race and follow them you'll see.

Agree with Aqua; EVERYBODY uses leg drive even if it looks like or they say they don't...even rookies who're just learning to paddle.

#46 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 1:04pm

As far as I can see, there are a lot of very successful paddlers who do not use any visiable leg drive and use their weight and the friction of their butt in the seat to stabilize. The leg position and the lack of any leg flexing/movment seems to point to that, but I might be mistaken.

Just because it isn't visible doesn't mean it isn't being used. If legdrive wasn't needed, you wouldn't really see the need for any footwells to brace against in kayaks, surfskis, and other crafts. Without a stable footing, you'd literally fallout while paddling unless you were strapped in your seat.

In an OC6 (or any type of canoe), if you were to keep your knees closed and your feet together centered in front of you and try to paddle, your body/core will naturally swing them towards that side of the gunwhales for bracing after a few strokes, .

#47 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 2:35pm

One time our stroker had bike grease all over his feet and tracked it over the whole canoe as he climbed to the front from the back. It was the worst practice ever, all our feets were slipping and slidin. It was terrible. Yes leg and feet are very very important.

Anyone who says leg drive isn't important is probably saying that because he's having trouble doing it and trying to justify not doing and probably is pretty slow. Think of paddling like a tug of war. same same. Without your legs and feet its impossible to win.

#48 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 3:21pm

Dragon boats are very quick with the right crew the world record for the 500m is 1:48 and change try doing that in a OC1 or even a OC6 for that matter. But yeah the whole paddling on one side is really lame, it hurts but its all good fun when your racing and you beat people.

#49 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 9:17pm

I still think the dragonboat design is very inefficient for how many bodies and how much HP. Put 6 guys in a dragonboat and race an OC-6! The dragonboat hull pushes a lot of water. My exposure RE: speed is whatever group of people are dragonboating in Long Beach on wed. Maybe they are a novice group but I am novice, slow and can level peg with all those I have run parallel to out on the water and I can keep the pace for 3 hours and I am the first to say I am s-l-o-w. I guess seeing the rowers fly by in the 8 puts it into prespective.

I read leg drive and stabilization as two different things. When someone like Greg Long is sitting with his knees up in his chest I cant imagine his is driving with his legs...if you put your seat like that it is really hard to get anything other than passive stabilization IMHO, at least thats how I feel when I have my seat up like that.

#50 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 9:54pm

Shawn Michael

#51 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 9:54pm

Shawn - Im sure if you asked a club to join, you could just come to practice whenever you can make it and just dont expect to race. Ive done that a couple of times even though I have NO desire to do 6 man. I just tell them up front and ther are always seats to fill. It is a much different workout. When I go back to my 1 man after a regatta practice I feel like a powerhouse.

#52 Tue, 08/26/2008 - 11:37pm

tpop, what crew set that world record?

#53 Wed, 08/27/2008 - 6:03am

That is smoking fast, 22 crew on each boat? Lot of of HP

#54 Wed, 08/27/2008 - 9:35am

Tpoppler and a few other Cali outrigger guys set that record in Australia last year paddling with the Philadelphia Dragonboat Crew.

#55 Wed, 08/27/2008 - 7:08pm

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