Photo: from Adam Van Koeverden video
Below are stroke tips picked up from fellow paddlers, blogs, videos, etc. This is an attempt at detailing the ideal stroke. Given the differences in paddling philosophies, bodies and abilities this is not meant to be how we should all paddle. It's a framework to think about the stroke as we all find what works best for each of us. For more expert advice, visit the resources and video sections below and/or seek out acknowledged experts for lessons.
Along the way you will probably notice that many paddlers have strokes that do not necessarily look much like what is described below, but their strokes are effective, they can catch waves, and they have a lot of fun. For most of us that is the bottom line! If you are not young and an aspiring Olympian, you probably don't need to get excessively enmeshed in a search for perfect technique (if you want to, then fine, but please keep in mind what will best keep paddling enjoyable and a lifelong recreation for you). Consider this article from Boyan Zlatarev.
From Guillemot Kayaks:
“Ventilation is what you call it when the paddle sucks air down the back of the blade. Many people call it cavitation, but that is when a propellor spins so fast that it creates a vacuum behind the blade (Ed. Note: And when imperfections in a blade contribute to vacuum formation). Neither is any good, but what your average kayaker creates is ventilation. The reason it is no good is you are moving air instead of water. Air weighs a lot less than water and if there is air behind your paddle instead of water the mass of water you are moving is decreased and thus creating the same momentum requires you expend more energy.
There are two ways of creating ventilation. One is by bringing the air down with the blade as you insert it into the water. The other is to pull air down the back of the paddle as you apply power. Both can be avoided by being sure your blade is fully submerged before applying power. A clean entry will not bring down much air and the small area near the top of the blade is less likely to ventilate.”
There is no substitute for a good coach. But if you don't have a coach, have a friend videotape you. Compare your stroke to videos of paddlers you are trying to emulate. Since the stroke is complex, one strategy that can be helpful is to pick just three elements to work on during a practice. Focus on one element at a time. Rotate among the elements during your practice.
We didn't start to add detailed information about these strokes until year 3 of this wiki, so like many surfskiers we know, we are also guilty of neglecting these vital and very valuable strokes that a surfskier should have command of and which can provide great benefit to their paddling and downwinding.
Sculling in a K1
You can use sculling strokes to move sideways and/or stay upright effectively. (The draw stroke is your other main option for moving sideways) How many paddlers have experienced letting their paddles dive followed subsequently by themselves falling into the water? You can insure that your paddle remains on the surface and provides active support with a sculling stroke. Your paddle blade needs to be somewhat angled away from your boat to get some upward support. These strokes, particularly the vertical version because it uses the cupped side of the blade for power, may feel very awkward at first, but a little regular practice will lead to comfort, competence, and the ability to confidently rely on these techniques.