Paddling Tips

Sprint Race Preparation

By Chantal Meek

Boat Weight

  • Sprint Kayaks must be over the specified weight. It is advisable to check this frequently as boats will dry out and lose weight if the weather is hot.
  • This can even happen over the course of a few hours. If you have brought your boat up to weight using lead or sand, check before every race that the weight is still in and hasn’t been borrowed or fallen out while emptying.


  • Check that all bolts are done up tightly. If they are going to loosen it will always happen at the worst time!
  • Have a spray deck at regattas in the case that the wind picks up. If it is wavy you can take on a fair amount of water warming up and even during the race.
  • If you have a adjustable paddle, check that it is the correct length for the race, K1 or K2.


  • Regattas can be very long days. If it is hot and sunny you will end up spending hours out in the sun so wear a hat whenever possible and cool clothing. Even if it means wearing a t-shirt in the warm up.
  • Getting sun burnt is extremely draining on your body and will definitely weaken you for your races.

Start times

  • Keep an eye on the race timetable. If the program gets behind you may want to delay your warm up as to avoid being on the water for too long. Be careful however that they don’t skip breaks to catch up on time!


  • Eat small amounts frequently and try to have a reasonable lunch if there is enough time between races.
  • Keep hydrated all day. The use of sports drinks can also help with this.

Marathon Preparation

By Chantal Meek

There are many things to consider while preparing for a Marathon race, whether it be an Ultra Marathon like the Hawksbury Challenge or a shorter Marathon like a Winter series race. Many people are let down by equipment failure or lack of preparation rather than actual physical fitness or endurance.

Some things to look over before a race are…

Drink systems

  • Be sure that your system is comfortable and practical. If it is a back pack, make sure that it won’t rub, if there is a chance that it will, make sure you have clothing on underneath to protect your skin
  • Give careful consideration as to how long the race will last and how much fluid you will need. There is no point carrying along excess weight, however you don’t want to run out of fluids early
  • Read carefully the mixing instructions. If you make up the drink to weak or strong you can end up with stomach problems and wont get the most out of the product
    DO some sessions with the drink to make sure that the taste is ok and it doesn’t make you feel sick


  • For Ultra Marathons, you may need to take food. Always trial these food to make sure you can stomach them OK. Most carbohydrate gels should be consumed with water, again read the labels carefully.


  • Check out the weather forecasts, If it is cold wear layers so you can remove items slowely as required
  • If it is hot, cover up really well, heat stroke will severely inhibit your performance
  • Wear the clothing for a few sessions to make sure that it is comfortable


  • Check over all bolts and anything that could possibly loosen or undo! Make sure that any safety vests are attached securely and any bungs are secure.
  • If you have any tape on your paddle, make sure that it Is neat ant won’t wear away at your hands.


  • Have a high carbohydrate meal the night before. Plenty of pasta or race is great
  • If you can get in a good meal a few hours before the race then do so as well
  • Avoid foods that will play havoc with your tummy. Probably best to keep it quite bland
  • Keep hydrated, drink plenty of water the night before

Simple paddling stroke tips for Kayaking 

Craft type :  there is a sit in and sit on, Kayak or canoes basically – no such thing as a kayak craft or a canoe craft they are just a boat/craft designed  for a kayak paddle or a canoe paddle.

A kayak paddle has 2 ends and a canoe paddle has just the one, if you jumped  up off the couch and said ‘I’m off for a canoe’ – this means you will grab the single blade paddle off the wall and go out on anything ie. a ski, K1 or a fridge door!  You can go kayaking in a Canadian canoe – the craft is just a little wide and it’s not much fun.

This should end the argument about canoe or kayak or ski – no such thing – it’s just a shape designed for the paddle.

  • Stroke Most people think you paddle by sweeping out to the side The actual kayaking stroke is to pull directly back down the side of the boat.
  • Your top hand while pulling should be out in front of your nose 300mm-400mm wit a vertical front forearm  with your hand around eye level – not too far forward. You hold it just in front of your eyes  while pulling the other blade through  the water back to about your hip (maximum – don’t pull past your hip otherwise it is called lifting water) before exiting the water out to the side at the back – just  letting it come out easy – not forcing or lifting (nice exit ).  You must not start dropping the front top hand  & starting the next stroke until the back hand has come fully up to shoulder height/eye-level.
  • There is a rule  for the kayaking stroke – one hand must be at no less than shoulder / eye height at any one time. Most recreational  paddlers and even some good paddlers have an over lap of your hand at about stomach height – one finishing the stroke pulling and the front hand dropping to the water – all this does is it makes you pull out the side thus not moving you forward as much as the high hand stroke pulling directly down the side of the boat.
  • Kayaking and Sup / stand up paddle board / outrigger canoe paddling generally have very similar stroke patterns – all basically pulling straight back – all using rotation, all exiting smooth.
  • Outrigger Canoe paddling (tips coming soon) stay tuned …