I had a private with Puakea a month ago & was going to post the videos with my copious notes, but nobody ever added me to Marina's FB. So here are my notes, sans videos of his suggested drills.
This was a one-on-one critique. He videoed each of us and then went through what was wrong with our stroke.
All but 3 of 20 (half of whom were veterans with years of experience) were told our stroke is inefficient/incorrect, and we're entering way too far out, pulling 30% air in the first part of our stroke.
Unless you are on the Tahitian team, you should never be stroking more than 60 strokes/minute. Never.
This is the most efficient rate.
Energize your canoe instead of speeding it up.
Never paddle faster than the canoe is moving.
Put your paddle in and pull the canoe past your paddle.
If you're sitting one, you need to back off 15% of your effort, at ALL times.
It will feel like, "Really? this is what they want back there? But if you do it, your canoe will pull ahead. This is the pace that will keep the back of the boat efficient and happy."
Most all paddlers (even veterans with years of experience), have a picture-perfect pose of huge extension with their paddle so far out they're pulling 30% air & the paddle isn't submerged until the stroke is half over.
Drill in an OC1 or 2 to know where your paddle should enter the water:
Sitting up straight in the canoe or a chair.
Lift your paddle overhead, hand at each end where you should be holding it (notes on this to follow, about 1/3 are holding it too high).
FALL at the waist to the side to bring your blade down into the water),
THEN sweep around like a half-circle on the outside of the leg.
Look at your foot or some reference point where the blade is. THAT is where your blade should be entering the water every stroke.
For the vast majority it's much closer to your body than you're doing, because you're not sitting up straight, not twisting -- but leaning instead.
Relax your shoulders, relax your neck.
Rotate your shoulders.
For proper rotation imagine you're getting your entire sacrum against the side of the canoe, every stroke.
99% of all paddlers don't "SET" their blades.
Most paddlers return and pull without ever setting the blade.
This is why most paddlers don't have fully submerged blades at the top of their strokes.
You must set your blade before you pull through the water.
Setting the blade is a move akin to slotting through a mail slot – it's done at an angle and is done with the hands and arms only, not the body.
This movement assures your paddle is fully submerged before you pull back.
Your thumb should be hitting 2+ inches below the gunnel with every stroke.
A 6-man canoe is the worst place to learn to paddle.
Get out in an OC1 & OC2
You will get a real workout. You will pull more water, and it will correct your stroke.
A 6-man is like a security blanket.
When you "pump" the boat (especially in seat one or two), you actually push it down and cause drag.
Sit up, use your legs & derriere and you don't pump.
When you have a big flip of water or bubbles coming off the exit of your blade, you are pulling the canoe down. Soften up your wrist on the exit.
The first thing all paid paddlers do when they get a new paddle is tape it where they should be holding it. The first thing you should do with your paddle is tape it also.
How to tape your paddle (use electrical tape):
Grab the shaft and wrap your hand around it, closest to the blade.
Your pinkie side is toward the blade, so tape at the mark above your fist at the thumb-side.
Now place your hand around the shaft again, above that mark, and tape again on the thumb side.
Between those two tape wraps around your shaft is where your hand should be every stroke.
Spend an entire practice doing a skim drill.
Or do set drills for 20 minute periods. Set the blade, then pull it out. Set the blade, then pull it out.
Or hold your breath for a few strokes until you can build up to 30 strokes.
Yoga is great for paddlers/shoulders/neck/back tension. All paddlers should be doing yoga as a supplemental workout.
If the boat's not moving, don't look around – it's you.
Your bottom arm should never bend.
By the time you need to bend it, your blade should already be exiting.
If you're bending your bottom arm, you're not rotating enough.
Top arm should be almost straight. Saggy bent elbows on your top arm are a difficult bad habit to correct if you start.
Email me and I can email you the videos of the drills he recommends. Both are optimal in an OC1/2