Rudderless technique

Anyone care to share one man rudderless stroke technique? Strokes per side? Type of stroke? Any other tips/weblinks? I'm not racing in any v1 races, just curious as to how it's done. Thanks

Submitted by ericTN on Tue, 04/06/2004 - 7:14am

i've never really learned from anyone but the way i do it is just go by feel... if your taking 40 strokes on one side and 2 on the other thats alright.. it may not be too much fun but thats how it has to be. If you steer six mans at all you'll have an idea of the kinds of strokes you need to do to keep the canoe straight.. an important stroke, what i've always heard referred to as the J stroke, starts out kind of far away from the canoe and comes in. Or i was experimenting with either a little pop at the end of the stroke, either towards or away from the canoe depending on which way you wanted to go.. Another thing i've kinda experimented with is lightening up the ama or putting weight on it, which can help control direction a little bit.
You can pretty much do whatever you want, and once you figure it out it can be a lot of fun.. i know for flat water i prefer rudderless, it adds a whole 'nother aspect to paddling and makes you really concentrate on current and wind direction.
Make sure you never stop on poke your paddle to steer, that'll jus stop you dead in the water and you never really need to turn that sharply. Alright, have fun... and remember, i've never really heard any of this from any kind of authority on rudderless paddling, i've just always fooled around with it.. k, goodluck

#1 Tue, 04/06/2004 - 8:11am

Thanks. I haven't seen much info out there either and hope to get some more comments by anyone who paddles rudderless. I'd like to add some rudderless to my regular training..hope to strengthen some of those lesser used muscles. I'll just learn by doing, but would love any more advice.

#2 Tue, 04/06/2004 - 2:54pm

What luke said works for regular and marathon canoes as well.
You can either steer by switching sides or take an occasional J stroke ( at the expense of some speed.

#3 Wed, 04/07/2004 - 5:29pm

Well I tried it out and got quite a workout..luckily I had my rudder onboard so I could put it on after about 45 minutes. I kept swinging left, but couldn't figure out if it was current or if the ama was pulling the boat that way. The only way I could go decently straight was to hammer down and switch about every 4 strokes, before the nose swung too far... It was frustrating paddling on the left and still turning left! definitely a good workout though!

#4 Thu, 04/08/2004 - 7:31am

thats how it goes, i think the ama causes the boat to swing left a little, but the wind was probably doing most of it.. if your going really hard on the left and the boat wont swing right just bring the front of your stroke a little wider.... its hard, but you'll get used to it and learn to love it.. try and switch sides the second before your nose starts to swing, or at least the instant that it does, if you dont catch it immediately it makes it a lot harder

#5 Thu, 04/08/2004 - 8:13am


How easy it is depends on the waka as well, some track much better than others. For example mine is more a rounded hull, good for catching lifts etc. A devil to paddle without a rudder though, especially with anything above a breeze. Something less rounded will be much easier (and the Moana Nui Surfrigger is a good example of a waka that's comparatively easy to paddle once the rudder is off) . On such a waka I can get a 5:3 ratio (side to side), as opposed to mine which is more 5:1 if I'm lucky. Play around with rigging as well (easier if you have lashings rather than pop in fittings) as a little toe in and height of the ama can make a world of difference, and ease that constant pull to the left.

Try in different conditions. One of my paddling buddies hates flat water when rudderless and rather have some waves to help steer with. I've seen him play in 20 knot plus winds without a rudder , for fun!.

Otherwise lotsa practice. This is good development for if you steer a 6 man BTW.

Have fun


#6 Thu, 04/08/2004 - 2:19pm

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