Learning how to paddle straight is an essential skill for any aspiring paddler. Having the right knowledge and practice can make mastering this technique a breeze, so let’s get started. In this blog post we, will discuss stacking your hands, looking ahead, using a C stroke and countering wind and currents – all of which are key components of learning how to paddle board straight.
Table of Contents
Stack Your Hands
For optimal paddle control and stability, your hands should be placed one on top of the other in a straight line when gripping the paddle.
Stacking your hands helps to keep the paddle vertical and makes sure the blade is square to your direction of travel.
I find that it helps to imagine pulling myself and the board towards the paddle, rather than trying to move the paddle through the water.
It is also important to keep the blade close to the edge of the board. By doing this you’ll be reducing the turning moment of the paddle stroke.
If you need a reminder of the basics of paddling check out this post on how to Master Your Paddleboarding Technique.
It sounds pretty simple, but it’s a rule that applies to most modes of transport, cycling, skiing, skateboarding…Paddleboarding! When you were learning to cycling did you ever look at a pothole, thinking “Blimey that’s a big pothole, I don’t want to hit that!” and then you seem to get sucked towards it like it’s a black hole? Then you learn that you need to look at where you want to go, instead of where you don’t want to go.
The same applies to Paddleboarding!
Use a C Stroke
It’s simple physics that makes your paddleboard turn off course when you paddle, because, no matter how close your paddle is to the side of the board, it is still offset from the centre of gravity.
A few years ago, when I was learning to canoe in a Canadian Canoe, I learnt the ‘J’ stroke. It’s a normal paddling stroke, but at the end of it you turn the angle of the paddle so that it acts like a rudder and turns the canoe back on track.
When I first started paddleboarding I tried the ‘J’ stroke, but it didn’t seem to be as effective. So instead of just angling the paddle at the end of the Power Stroke, I also angled it at the start of the stroke, drawing a ‘C’ shape in the water. In paddleboarding you have more power and control at the start of the stroke and can use this to pull the front of the board in the direction that you want to go. Here’s a diagram to help explain what I’m talking about:
You will need to experiment a bit to find a stroke that suits you and your board, you might even decide that you don’t need to turn the blade at the end of the stroke. It can take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it you won’t have to keep swapping sides to paddle. Here’s a video showing the C Stroke:
Counteract Wind and Currents
If you are paddling at an angle into the wind, you might find that you can just paddle with a straight power stroke on one side of the board. Paddling on one side will counteract the force of the wind or river current.
You might find this tiring on one side of your body so, if you can, you might want to paddle directly into the wind so that you can alternate sides.
Paddling directly into the wind will also minimise the impact of any waves or chop, helping you to feel more stable.
It depends entirely on the conditions that you are paddling in and every situation is different.
Paddleboards are very susceptible to the forces of the wind as there is very little drag under the water and your body acts like a sail. If you are finding it difficult to make headway against the wind you can kneel on the board which will do 2 things:
- Reduce the surface area of your body and therefore the effect of the wind,
- Lower your centre of gravity, putting you in a more stable position, enabling you to put more force through the paddle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is learning to paddle board straight important?
Paddle boarding straight is essential for maintaining control, efficiency, and overall enjoyment while on the water. Mastering this skill will help you become a proficient paddler and make your time on the water more enjoyable.
What is the proper hand placement for paddle boarding straight?
For optimal paddle control and stability, your hands should be placed one on top of the other in a straight line when gripping the paddle. This helps keep the paddle vertical and ensures the blade is square to your direction of travel.
How does looking ahead help with paddle boarding straight?
Looking ahead helps you focus on where you want to go, rather than where you don’t want to go. This rule applies to many modes of transport, including paddle boarding, and can improve your overall control and balance.
What is the C stroke technique, and how does it help with paddle boarding straight?
The C stroke technique involves angling the paddle at the start and end of the stroke, drawing a ‘C’ shape in the water. This helps keep the board on course and minimizes the need to swap sides while paddling.
How can I counteract wind and currents while paddle boarding?
To counteract wind and currents, try paddling at an angle into the wind or directly into the wind to minimize the impact of waves and chop. If necessary, you can kneel on the board to reduce the surface area of your body and lower your center of gravity, making it easier to paddle against the wind.
How much practice is needed to become proficient at paddle boarding straight?
The amount of practice needed varies for each individual, but with consistent practice and patience, most paddlers can learn to paddle board straight quickly and easily. By focusing on key techniques like stacking hands, looking ahead, using a C stroke, and counteracting wind and currents, you’ll improve your skills over time.