An afternoon session at the slalom gates reminded me of the kayaking adage that we all try and embrace: paddle smart not hard.

I tested the theory today.  Running a sequence of gates that included a ferry, two eddy turns and a finish, I first paddled for time. Paddling hard it took me 24 strokes to make it to the final eddy. When I paddled “smart” (meaning taking the fewest number of strokes) it took thirteen strokes.

Difference? I was faster on the greater number of strokes–by about three seconds. But when I was deliberate about when to take each stroke, and what that stroke should be, I took almost half the strokes and ended up at the same finish spot, with lots more energy!

Moral of the story: next time you are out paddling, try being deliberate about your strokes.  Concentrate on which stroke you should be using, and when to use it. Focus more on timing your strokes to control your boat angle. Set up a ferry move and see how few strokes you can take to make the ferry happen.  If you are deliberate about your stroke and control your boat angle, you will need very few strokes. [best case example here is using a stern draw to do a ferry on a single stroke].