Maybe a difficult question to answer

Exactly how hard does a paddler have to push to be carrying his own weight in a oc6? is there any way of telling?

Submitted by aepling2008 on Sun, 08/16/2009 - 12:13am

Try to add enough weight in the OC6 to equal your own weight and go paddling !

#1 Sun, 08/16/2009 - 7:03pm

been too lazy to do it myself but you can pull a loaded canoe behind a power boat with the rope connected to a large fish scale. divide the weight on the scale by 6, maybe 5 depending on how good your steersman is, even 4 if your steersman really sucks. i assume something like 25lb pulling force per paddler per stroke at 6mph, 45 at 7mph, 75 at 8mph and, 120lbs at 9mph. only 2 things that make a canoe go fast, strength and blend. endurance helps it go fast for a long time.

#2 Sun, 08/16/2009 - 7:20pm

boat weight plus paddlers weight divided by 6
I pull my weight in an OC1 and it is much easier than manual handling such weight on land.
If I was to stick my paddle in a craddle and try to do chin ups it would probable break, so I do not think we pull that much weight when out on the water.

#3 Mon, 08/17/2009 - 4:58pm

boat weight plus paddler weight divide by 6? same power for every speed? i think at 9mph flat water we would have to pull a whole lot of weight,

#4 Tue, 08/18/2009 - 4:06pm

If you don't feel any pressure on your blade, you're not contributing. Spent too much time with people just going through the motions.

#5 Tue, 08/18/2009 - 4:14pm

So how hard are the Tahitians pushing when they scorch across the channel at 10-12 knots?

#6 Tue, 08/18/2009 - 7:44pm

You can tell by the bubbles the paddler ahead of you produces. The bubbles indicate "going through the motions," and when you stick your blade into them, you're "going though the motions," too.

#7 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 9:38am

How much is a whole lot of weight smonahan?
We have inertia/momentum crew blend and glide to help us along. We also have surf currents what ever. Yes we have to paddle into the wind and get the craft going but I do not think that there is that much weight involved in a paddle stroke.
Water is slippery stuff and our crafts float, so we are not fighting gravity when paddling.
I remember as a kid, tugging on the guy wire rope that was securing a large ship to a wharf. By bouncing the rope I could move the ship. That ship probable weighed hundreds of tons.

Take the seated row movement in the gym. How many single handed reps could you do using your body weight?
We do hundreds of strokes out on the water. There is no way we are pulling anywhere near our body weight (on the paddle blade) at any given time. anyone that says that they are delusional. Yes we pull our selves through the water but that does not equate to our body weight on land.
I guess it comes down to power to body weight ratios and good crew blend.

#8 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 12:34pm

This article from Shawn Burke illustrates why we need to paddle in sync as well as touches on power and movement through the water. The articles are 1 and 2 of a four part series. They were posted before under the Science of Paddling. Don't stare at the equations for too long or you'll go cross eyed.

Part 1
Part 2

#9 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 12:45pm

ocpaddler, you and smonahan both share similar views in that not much force is probably required to move a canoe forward, however, smonahan added one more dimension of consideration that impacts the change -and that is speed.
Speed is another part of the equation when we look at drag on an object moving thru air or water.

"Exactly how hard does a paddler have to push to be carrying his own weight in a oc6"? is a tough question to answer quantitatively since there are many variables to consider - currents, winds, type/design of canoe, crew timing, stroke rate, steersman skills, etc etc.

Even if a paddler knew on paper quantitatively how much he/she needed to exert/push in order to be "carrying his own weight", when the paddler is in the canoe, how would he know he has reach that number every time he takes a stroke?

Say for example, you worked out all the numbers and determined at a given hull speed, in a given canoe, with the known weights of all the paddlers that you needed to exert X watts to "carry your own body weight" - would you know instinctively how much watts you're putting out per stroke without some stain gauge attached to your paddle?

In addition, even if all six paddlers were pumping out proportional watts for their respective weight and each person is pulling his share of weight in the canoe, there are other variables that will ultimately determine if the canoe will move faster - timing, technique, stroke rate etc.

All you can really do is paddle your heart out, work on good technique and be spot on with your timing and focus only on what you need to get done and let the coach take care of the rest.

My question is - what motivated this question?

#10 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 2:24pm

as stated b4 i think a whole lot of weight is about 120 pounds pulling force for each stroke at 9 mph. have you ever sustained 9mph in a canoe? very hard. i don't doubt you could move a ship by bouncing on a line. try moving it at 5 mph. i am also not talking about spooky currents or up wind, we may not be paddling against gravity but i am sure there is some resistance there, even thought that water is darn slippery. the last time i checked there aren't too many one arm paddlers out there either. most paddler utalize their bodies for the power using arms as an extension of their core, allowing more power. it is fairly easy doing 15 75 lb lat rows using a dumbell, changing sides and continuing for some time. (that is with only one arm) why do you think the tahitians change on 8 or 10? they are pulling 100 plus pounds each stroke. i am pretty sure i am not delusional about this. if you have perfect blend, only strength will improve your hull speed.

#11 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 3:12pm

Addressing the second part of the question, "... is there any way of telling?"

I would have to say its almost impossible to tell - a lot of subjectivity is involved and when you think about the many variants of the stroke technique, the funky stuff some people do with their top arm or the bottom arm elbow bends, stroke lengths/stroke technique has to be considered - a paddler spending more time in the sweet spot is going to pull more than a person who is trying to push too much with the top arm or pulling with the bottom arm rather than using the large muscles and core to do the work.

#12 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 5:26pm

In dragon boating, there is a company who makes a paddle with strain and force gauges as well as sensors to determin blade angles etc. Here's the link: The data can show some VERY interesting results.

#13 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 7:24pm

The site below is about ocean kayaks, but very applicable to canoes. If I get time, I will attempt to digest and regurgitate some of the info. Needless to say, drag on the hull is exponential as speed increases. In the mean time, this is a good read about what causes drag and some interesting graphs showing measured drag on certain kayak designs.

#14 Wed, 08/19/2009 - 7:43pm

Now I don't wish anyone to go out and get injured, but, try paddling a 6-man while injured (back or shoulder). Your body will let you know real fast whether you're pushing or pulling your weight. Yes, you'll probably be able to paddle a one-man or surfski without noticing any ill effects, even over long distance, but go jump in a six man, and you'll slack off real fast. Bummers!!!

#15 Thu, 08/20/2009 - 7:57am


#16 Thu, 08/20/2009 - 1:30pm

If there are 5 people in a six man, everyone pulls at 100%.

If there are 6 people in a six man with 5 people paddling at 100%

how hard does the sixth person have to paddle for the boat to be traveling at the same speed as when there were only 5 people in the boat paddling at 100%.

#17 Thu, 08/20/2009 - 2:39pm

The paddle that ski bum mentions above with the built in strain gauge is pretty cool and would give a really accurate idea of who was doing what and how good the blend was. $2,600 is a bit steep though.

#18 Thu, 08/20/2009 - 4:23pm

aepling2008 asked - how hard does the sixth person have to paddle for the boat to be traveling at the same speed as when there were only 5 people in the boat paddling at 100%-

Rough estimate 50% - depends on weights.

6th paddler has to overcome the increased drag due to the increase in displacement due to his/her weight. The estimate is that it will be about linear meaning the drag area (and drag force) increase will be proportional to the total canoe and paddlers weight increase. So if the total canoe and paddler weights increase from 1300 lb to 1450 lb the force required would increase 11%. With 5 paddlers we had 5 arbitrary units of force (100% x 5). to go the same speed we need 5 x 1.11 units of force, 5.55. The original 5 paddlers are supplying 5 units so the six paddler needs to provide the remaining .55 units, or 55%.

#19 Thu, 08/20/2009 - 5:12pm

You actually do use all the body muscles in a single hand seated row.. pretty much like a paddle stroke. We need to stabilize and use the legs to dive through the motion and the core to do the twisting.
Also.. some Tahitians may change every 8 to 10 strokes.. but maybe this because that is what they think benefits the style of that particular crew.
When I am in a good crew and we are blending well, there does not seem like there is as much effort being exerted (wasted) as in a less blended crew.
There is no way an individual could pull 120 pounds every stroke for the length of time it takes to do the Molo race. Especially at the rating that the winning Tahitian crews go at.
I do take on board your other comments though.

#20 Sat, 08/22/2009 - 12:52am

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