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Hydrodynamic characteristics of sea kayak traditional paddles

Abstract

We present a study of the hydrodynamic characteristics of sea kayak paddles without taking into account the kayaker. We focus on traditional paddles used in the Arctic, one from Greenland and one from the Aleutian Islands. A basic modern European paddle is included in the study for comparison. First the paddle stroke parameters specific to sea kayaking are identified because previous studies were devoted to a competition context. The hydrodynamic force generated by the blade motion is detailed: two terms are identified, one involving the inertia of the water surrounding the blade at the beginning of its motion, and the second term is the classical drag/lift force. Drag and lift force coefficients were measured in a wind tunnel. The data allow computation of the hydrodynamic force during a paddle stroke. The European paddle was shown to be more efficient than the traditional paddles because of its shorter length to width ratio which contributed to a larger inertia effect. However, the force obtained with the traditional paddles better follows the imposed motion by the kayaker so that they are more comfortable and less tiring in the context of long distance trips, as those practiced in sea kayaking.

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Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to Caroline Frot from LadHyX for the 3D printing of the wind tunnel models and to Dr. Xavier Amandolese from LadHyX for the wind tunnel access and the force measurements. Traditional paddles have been manufactured and furnished by Alain Kerbiriou (http://www.kerlo.fr).

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Correspondence to Pascal Hémon.

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Hémon, P. Hydrodynamic characteristics of sea kayak traditional paddles. Sports Eng 21, 189–197 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12283-017-0262-x

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Keywords

  • Paddle
  • Sea kayak
  • Paddle stroke
  • Hydrodynamics