Most efficient - paddling or rowing?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by SailorDon, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    The question is, which is most efficient, rowing or paddling?

    The criteria are simple:
    Straight line
    5 miles
    No current
    No wind
    No waves
    Fixed seat
    Solo: One 200 to 250 pound person (reasonably fit but not an Olympic athelete).

    The boat design needs to be recreational.
    Easily launched by one person at a public boat ramp (or off a beach).
    No racing sculls, no canoes or kayaks that tip over by themselves.

    What is the most efficient (fastest) way to get from the start to the finish?
    Paddling or rowing?

    My personal experience is that a 17' Thames Rowing Skiff gives me an average of 4.5 mph, whereas a 17' ultra-light Kevlar solo canoe gives me an average of 4.0 mph.

    My personal conclusion is I have to work harder to go slower with the solo canoe.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 1,003
    Likes: 52, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 358
    Location: finland

    kerosene Senior Member

    I do not have an answer but as someone who has recently picked up on indoor rowing and has done recreational kayaking for exercise I say this: rowing technique is easy. You get all the big muscle groups in there and the coordination is not hard. Paddling is much more technical to get right.
     
  3. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    My personal conclusion about going slower with more effort with a solo canoe has an important piece of personal history.
    I have been rowing my Thames Rowing Skiff for 3 years and almost 3,000 miles of rowing. I bought my Voyager Kevlar solo canoe 2 months ago and have only accumulated 60 miles of solo canoeing experience.
    [​IMG]

    The importance is that I have had 3,000 miles to tweak the optimum seat position, oarlock location, additional ballast location, stokes per minute, length of stroke, etc. for my Thames Rowing Skiff.

    I'm still experimenting with how much shoulder vs. arm motion on the kayak paddle stroke, how far to reach on the power stroke, on my Voyager Kevlar solo canoe.
    I have already increased my paddle length from 8.5 ft to 9.0 ft. It seems to work better.
    I have a bad habit of paddling with my arms when I should be paddling with my shoulders for better performance.

    It is not a simple transition from rowing to paddling.

    Given enough time, practice and experience on the solo canoe, I might be able to achieve the same performance as I do with rowing.

    Another item of interest is that the Voyager Kevlar weighs 35 pounds.
    My Thames Rowing Skiff I estimate weighs over 120 pounds.
    (It was custom built by Picnikyacht.com as a quality "show boat" for wooden boat shows. It has won 2 first place awards and one second place.)
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 13,078
    Likes: 291, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Rowing can be more efficient than paddling. Compare a canoe or kayak with a rowing shell. The speed of a shell is much higher. However, a particular kayak or canoe could be faster than a particular rowboat; particularly something wide and heavy like a skiff.
     
  5. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
    Posts: 2,846
    Likes: 153, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1279
    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Rowing can use the more powerful leg muscle mass to propel the boat as well as having two blades in the water at the same time. On the other hand the kayaker can use a more rapid cadence which may very well equalize the propulsion force. I have seen elite kayakers maintain a 90 cadence when they passed me like I was tied to a tree. For a longer distance the oarsman is probably at an advantage because of the fatigue factor. That is of course subject to the physical endurance differences of the competitor. You almost never hear of a kayaker doing a Transat but a few lunatic oarsmen actually do it.

    The kayaker has the advantage in that he can see the rock that he is about to hit, while the oarsman can not. In narrow passage ways the kayaker has the advantage of narrowing his stroke. Lots of variables here.
     
  6. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    Perhaps you missed the part about "fixed seat".
     
  7. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 13,078
    Likes: 291, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    You use your legs of fixed seats too; just not as much. If you want to speed up, you can lift your butt off the thwart on the stroke.
     
  8. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    Show me a video! [​IMG]
    Technically, once you lift your butt off the seat, it ain't fixed seat!
     
  9. Easy Rider
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 920
    Likes: 46, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 732
    Location: NW Washington State USA

    Easy Rider Senior Member

    The deal breaker is stomache and back mussels.
    In kayaking you just twist the torso but while rowing your huge stomache and back mussels lever your upper body back and forth generating far more force on the oar blades than the paddle blades. I'm supprised this question was even thought of much less asked.

    Read Rowing to Latitude.
    They used kayaks but they rowed them.
     
  10. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 13,078
    Likes: 291, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    When I row hard and lift my butt off the seat, the thwart does not move. I lift my body to use my legs and increase the stroke.
     
  11. KJL38
    Joined: Jun 2008
    Posts: 84
    Likes: 9, Points: 8, Legacy Rep: 75
    Location: Tasmania

    KJL38 Junior Member

    I don't want to be overly critical but I think your choice of a canoe with a raised seat and a very long paddle does not allow an efficient high angle paddling style. A sea kayak with it's lower seat is as stable and a shorter paddle length combined with not having the gunwales in the way allows the stroke to be placed closer to the hull. Typically you would plant the paddle near your toes and finish by your hips. With a double bladed paddle torso rotation is key and the stroke comes all the way from your feet.

    Based on my own experience comparing my Adirondack Guideboat and Tempest 170 plastic sea kayak I would put them about even at around 5mph. The kayak is longer overall but waterline length would be similar and at 27 kg it's a couple of kg heavier.
     
  12. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 1,194
    Likes: 22, Points: 38, Legacy Rep: 152
    Location: United States

    Skyak Senior Member

    The tendency will be to favor rowing in flat water for the fixed stroke that is balanced and uses large muscle groups. Consider it another way -if the oars were NOT set up right rowing would be terrible. With a double paddle you have to set up every stroke. Efficient double paddle stroke is not with arms or shoulders -it is primarily core muscles in rotation and the blade sweeps sideways. There should only be a vortex off the bottom of the paddle not around the sides.

    The double paddle can keep up with rowing in flat water, but it takes skill and the hull will be long and narrow. Stability with no blades in the water would actually be higher in the kayak because the seat is so much lower.

    The kicker for the kayak is that it is much better navigating and handling waves. I would also give the kayak a significant advantage in ease getting to the water -fewer parts, lighter weight, able to paddle right up to docks & seawalls. There are certainly very light rowing boats but they are far less seaworthy and you can't stop and stow the oars (no room and no stability). The larger rowing boat you have is the natural preference -seaworthy, versatile.

    Out of curiosity, what is the waterline beam of the canoe? Do you know what the wetted area is? I think you are right that you are working harder in the canoe -a heart rate sensor would confirm it. If you are looking for that last bit of speed try a kayak from Nelo or Epic. If you just prefer the big open canoe you might see some improvement with a small skeg to eliminate losses from side to side paddling -which are greater in the beamy canoe.
     
  13. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    I'm guessing you don't do "butt lift offs" for 5 miles.
    Once again, I say show me the video. :D
     
  14. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    I'm at a disadvantage in that I don't do "sit-in" kayaks. Being a member of the "geriatric set", it's too late for me to learn how to do barrel rolls. :(

    You mentioned an "efficient high angle paddling style". I'm new at paddling. Only 2 months experience. I tend to revert to rowing techniques that I have learned over the last 3 years. They don't always work with paddling. Of course with rowing, you don't want to put any more than the width of the blade in the water or you lose rowing efficiency.

    One technique you mentioned is torso rotation. I really have to concentrate on that. It seems to help, but for 5 miles, my body isn't conditioned for that. It seems to work better, but I have to work at building up my paddling performance and endurance.

    My goal is to paddle as well as I can row.
    When my paddling is "up-to-speed", if someone were to challenge me to a contest of speed over a 5 mile course, I could choose either boat. Right now today, I'd have to go with my Thames Rowing Skiff.

    Averaging 5 mph for 5 miles is very physically fit in my opinion. Keep up the good work.
     

  15. SailorDon
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 137
    Likes: 4, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Livingston, TX

    SailorDon Senior Member

    My solo canoe is a Wenonah Voyager Kevlar Ultra Light (35 pounds).
    Dimensions from their website are:
    [​IMG]

    There are many reviews and articles (with lots of details) about the Wenonah solo canoes when you Google them.

    From personal experience, I can say it is a quality product, high price, and there are no discounts. I tried! Maybe you get lucky and find a used one at a good price.
     
Loading...
Similar Threads
  1. 07MAM
    Replies:
    18
    Views:
    673
  2. johnnythefish
    Replies:
    34
    Views:
    2,907
  3. xichyu
    Replies:
    22
    Views:
    1,808
  4. xichyu
    Replies:
    7
    Views:
    1,049
  5. Wavewacker
    Replies:
    58
    Views:
    5,596
  6. johnnythefish
    Replies:
    24
    Views:
    5,722
  7. JosephT
    Replies:
    37
    Views:
    3,104
  8. SailorDon
    Replies:
    81
    Views:
    12,732
  9. ElectricKayak
    Replies:
    100
    Views:
    19,009
  10. msk.iitm@gmail.
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    1,014
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.