How to Paddle a Kayak Fast and Straight?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: July 8, 2021
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So, thinking of going straight and fast on a Kayak or a Stand Up Board?

Yes, it can be challenging. In this article, we will be sharing some tips that will help you get more strokes per side of a Kayak and reduce yawing, and going as fast as you can.

Kayakers rely on blade angle, stroke path, and shaft angle to propel the board in a straight line, thereby elevating themselves forward more efficiently.

For kayakers, who managed to get a few strokes per side before having to switch sides; this article will be helpful greatly. This article will help you propel your board in a straight line longer with less yawning.

24 ways to paddle your Kayak fast

When you’re paddling a kayak, you need to keep your balance and use your arms to move forward. While these are the two main ways to paddle, there are many other paddling techniques that you can try and master.

When paddling, it is important that you focus on technique and not speed. If you have proper technique, then speed will come naturally as your muscles start working more efficiently.

Ways to paddle kayak fast and straight

Here are some tips and tricks to help you paddle your kayak faster:

  1. Lean back slightly while paddling: This will help ensure that the kayak is balanced while also allowing for a gentle stroke.
  2. Keep one hand on the bow of the kayak: This will help you keep balance when turning left or right.
  3. Keep one hand on the stern of the kayak: This will help counteract any tendency for the front of the kayak to turn under you if you paddle too quickly.
  4. Get the right size of kayak: You need to choose a kayak that fits your body well and gives you enough space to maneuver in the water. The first step towards becoming a better kayaker is buying a good-sized boat. It’s recommended that you show up with one that has a weight capacity of at least 100 lbs because it will be more stable in heavier winds and waves. Make sure your boat can comfortably hold all body types before you buy it.
  5. Get used to paddling technique: It’s important not to just start paddling without knowing how exactly you should be doing it. There is no need for you to master all the technique in one, if you’re not an avid paddleboarder.
  6. Always look forward, not behind you.
  7. Keep your paddle in the water at all times.
  8. Keep your body low in the boat so you have a short stroke with plenty of power.
  9. Don’t worry about noise, just focus on speed and efficiency to make progress quickly.
  10. If you fall in, propel yourself up with your arms and continue paddling to get back into position.
  11. When critters start to swim around, don’t panic; stay calm and focus on moving forward quickly so they go away again.
  12. Feet should be on the deck of the kayak, your knees should be bent slightly, and your back should remain straight as you propel yourself forward with your paddle.
  13. Keep your right arm close to your body (like if it were holding onto something), and keep left arm outstretched and parallel with the surface of the water. This will help stabilize yourself as well as keep you from
  14. Try to balance your weight on one side of the boat and push off the water on that side
  15. Keep one hand on the center of the boat while you alternate paddling arms in each direction
  16. Wear protective gear if you’re going out in rough waters: goggles, life vest, gloves, etc.
  17. Always carry something for safety purposes: a map, whistle, compass, etc., as well as food and water.
  18. Learn how to cross stroke and move your right hand and elbow at the same time
  19. Have a kayak with a higher weight capacity for more stability
  20. Practice paddling in open water without waves or obstructions
  21. Choose your Paddle with care: For beginners, it is recommended that you choose a paddle that allows you to move the blade back and forth with ease – this will allow for more speed
  22. Keep your hands on the right side of the kayak: this will allow for easier paddling
  23. Get into a rhythm early on: This will help prevent any exhaustion or tiring out
  24. Work on your technique before anything else

Techniques To Drive Your Kayak Straight

Paddleboarding is a lot of enjoyable and especially after, you pin down some essential techniques that allow you to paddle faster and straighter. Once you study and start practicing how to paddle straighter you will also be able to paddle beyond and longer without getting as weary.

The techniques that we’ll go into in this post will compel you to weigh in on the way you’re paddling when you’re on the water. Once it starts to snap and you have that “ah-ha” moment, keep practicing until the stroke becomes rooted in your muscle memory and you do it by design every time you go out.

Here are some important points to take notes of:

  1. Shaft angle: maintaining a straight position for shaft- perpendicular to the water
  2. Blade angle: angling the blade to some extent inward towards the board
  3. Blade path: starting the stroke to some extent away from the rail and heaving the paddle in towards the feet, drawing the stroke close to the rail by your feet.
  4. A bonus tip that I can talk about is rail steering. If you want to move straight while standing in the middle of the board, you want to keep the board flat on the water. To some extent, you have to un-weigh the side you are paddling on to turn it straight.
  5. Stacking: Stacking means making sure your top hand (the one holding the handle) is straight above your lower hand. Paddling with stacked hands means you will have to achieve farther across the board with your top hand. To do this it is essential to keep your shoulders stacked, so that they are in parallel with the paddle and your hands. Stacking your shoulders will also ease excessive stress on the joints. It may feel uncomfortable at first but you will get used to it and it will experience much more normal with a little practice.
  6. The right way : Straight Forward Stroke: Many people wrongly paddle to the form of the rails on their paddleboard. It is a grave mistake. The sides of a paddleboard are arched and if you paddle along the rail, you stand to make a mistake. It will result in your stroke being arced, thereby veering off course. To make this right, put your blade in the water a little to the side of the rail while making sure your paddle is still upright. As you pull the blade back in a straight line, it should appear closer to the rail where your feet lie in. Take the paddle out of the water once it reaches your feet.
  7. Keep Your Paddleboard Flat : Keeping your paddleboard flat is an important aspect of learning how to paddle straight. It means trying not to put weight on either side too much. Your board will go faster when it is flat and the extra speed will provide you with more glide.

And, this all above will make it easier to keep a straight line. 

Remember to make sure your feet are placed to either side of the carrying grip in the dead center of the board.

If you want to make the board turn faster, you have to put more weight on the side. You will make the board move faster (i.e. if you put your weight on the left rail, the curve of the rail in the water will make the board turn to the right). 

Therefore, you want to keep away from the familiar beginner mistake of placing more weight on the side you are paddling on and as a substitute keep your weight balanced evenly over both feet. 

To keep the weighted fair while tilting the top hand over the rail to get the perpendicular paddle angle mentioned earlier, your hips have to shift to the reverse side to keep the weighted fair equally over both feet.

By using your potency to power yourself forward instead of sideways, you will misuse less energy, making your stroke more capable and you use up less time toggling sides with the paddle, which keeps you from losing forward thrust.

A lot of people, when they start out paddleboarding, don’t even grasp that they are paddling in big curvy “S” shaped lines. I’m still at fault over this once in a while after years of paddleboarding. It is not something you usually become aware of until your way of course. 

If you are paddling in a group, either you may suddenly find yourself far away from the others, or you are continually bumping into the other paddlers. Furthermore, paddling in a curved line means that you are paddling a lot beyond to get from point A to B (the direct distance between two points is a straight line) and therefore, needlessly expending extra energy. 

Additionally, crooked paddling is just one more bad routine that underpins rude stroke technique, which will badly affect your act and paddling skill.

The easiest way to consider paddling in a straight line is to do the reverse of what you would do when turning your paddleboard. When turning, you put your paddle in the water on an angle and then brush back or onward making an arch 

The farther out from your board you move, the easier your board will twist for you. When you are not turning, you should NOT be placing your blade in the water on an angle, as you will instantly start to twist, whether you become aware of it right away or not. 

If you want to paddleboard straight your paddle needs to be upright, straight up and down.

We don’t want to be putting the tail or the nose.

Bottom Line

There are other, more complex paddle strokes that you may come to know about. Those strokes are designed to keep you moving in a straight line. But, let’s just reserve them for another post. There is also the option of paddleboarding in high winds, which will influence how you paddle. But practice these three tips next time you go out and your paddling skills will get better a lot. 

You will still need to adjust sides and improve for veering off but it will be a lot less than you’re used to. Good luck!

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