It's all in the timing!
Technique - paddling well is not easy and our understanding of the most effective style has developed over a long period of time. The discussion varies from year to year and from coach to coach but a good rule of thumb is to always watch the top paddlers and crews. One thing always stands out and that is their timing! With respect, attitude, conditioning, perfect timing, and the same technique, paddling will seem and feel effortless. Over the years, there have been changes in paddles, canoe designs, and paddling technique, but the winning crews are always distinguished by their level of conditioning, their timing, and ability to work together as one.
The following quotes are excerpts on technique taken from Introduction to Hawaiian Outrigger Canoeing, and Kanu Culture .
“In any endurance sport efficiency is the key to getting the best results with the least amount of effort and of all canoeing, outrigger and marathon racing puts the highest premium on efficiency. Observing a canoe race, you'll notice the leaders go by looking relaxed and going fast. Sometimes they don't appear to be working very hard. Then the rest of the teams follow, each one going slower but appearing to be working much harder than the leaders. What's going on here? Do the leaders have a much faster canoe? The fact is, they are simply much more efficient in their technique than the teams which they are beating.
"WORKING HARD DOES NOT ENSURE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO GO FAST!”
“You can take your paddle and attack the water with it, straining every muscle in your body, throwing up big rooster‐tails behind you, or you can slice your blade into the water, anchoring it solidly and using your entire torso, pulling it smoothly and evenly with much better results.”
“Not only is good technique energy‐saving and fast, it is easy to learn because it is so simple. Part of the learning process requires that you have a clear picture in your mind of how a paddler moves the canoe through the water.”
“The canoe is being pulled forward through the water up to the paddle, which acts as an anchor in the water (akin to a mountaineer climbing upward with their ice axe). The canoe is being pulled forward, not pushed.
“Remember to use your body in the stroke. Most new paddlers are all arms, attempting to generate all the power with the relatively small biceps and triceps muscles of the arms rather than using, in combination, the muscles of the torso and back whic
h are far larger and more capable. Having a good understanding of the proper technique and applying all your muscle groups will ensure prolonged and powerful paddling. You also need to understand and learn the proper techniques of entering and exiting your paddle blade and how and when to apply power.”