Q: What advantage does a bent-shaft provide?
A: A bent-shaft paddle provides superior ergonomics and mechanical advantage. The ergonomic contours of a bent-shaft enhance hand indexing and relieve tendon and joint stresses on the wrist, allowing the paddler to more softly hold the shaft. The mechanical advantage is provided by the hand being off set from the blades power face. The off set applies more leverage to the blade without requiring a tighter gripp.
Whitewater Kayaks
Q: Are plaining hull kayaks slower than displacement hull kayaks?
A: Yes and No. Hull speed while river running is more a product of kayak length but since plaining hull kayaks are typically shorter than the displacement hulls built years ago, they seem to be slower. However, a plaining hull kayak is a displacement hull when not at plaining speeds.
Q: Can volume numbers be used to accurately compare kayak models from different companies?
A: No. Every designer uses volumer differently. Some times the volume is carried in the kayaks deck, some times in the hull. Volume distribution affects the way a kayak and its parting line interact with the water. Kayak length also affects this interaction. Volume alone will tell you very little about the design without other aspects of the design taken into consideration. Within one manufacturers line, volume can be used but don't compare apples and oranges.
Q: Is the hard chine on the hull of a modern kayak responsible for making it feel edgy?
A: No. The hard chine found on modern whitewater kayaks is nothing more than a release area and transition zone from the hull too the side wall. While the chine is in the water, riverrunning, it usually does nothing. The parting line where the sidewall and deck meet dictates how edgy a kayak feels. The lower the parting line, the more edgy a kayak feels. The higher out of the water a parting line is the more predictable a kayak feels. The chine doesn't come into play until the kayak reaches plaining speeds while surfing or during a jet ferry.
Q: Why are whitewater kayaks so short now?
A: Shorter means easier to paddle in almost all situations. The shorter a kayak is, the less power the water has over your boat. Every foot of kayak length gives the water three times as much leverage over your boat. Shorter kayaks are easier to turn, boof, surf, spin, etc., which means a faster learning curve and more margin for error.
Whitewater Skills
Q: Is body posture important in kayaking?
A: YES! Body posture is one of the must important elements of good paddling technique. Good posture keeps your kayak trimmed out in the water and more predictable. Good posture provides a better platform for edging, torso rotation and lower/upper body isolation, also all very important skills.
Q: Should I always have my paddle in the water?
A: In whitewater, yes! A active paddle blade in the water is a key element to maximizing the performance advantages of plaining hull kayaks. A active blade does not mean pulling on the paddle but rather skulling, feathering, drawing and using the currents the way a sail interacts with the wind. Advanced paddler will most often use this technique over the stroke-for-broke attack.
Q: Where should I be looking while paddling whitewater?
A: Most motion sports like skiing, biking, etc. require the rider to always look where you want to go, NOT at what you want to stay away from. Kayaking is no different. You should always be mindful of your surrounding but your attention should be concentrated on where you want to be. Visualizing your "Charc" (charging arc) and destination. You have to be able to see it before you can get there. These rules apply for riverrunning, surfing, creeking, etc.

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