Monday, June 13, 2011

Canoeing Styles, Paddle and Otherwise

This weekend I attended the Maine Canoe Symposium, as I've done every June for the past five or six years. Held on Moose Pond in Bridgton, Maine, it is one of the highlights of my year -- a great weekend of paddling workshops, fine people, and abundant good food. If you're in the area at the right time of year, I recommend it highly.

One presentation each year is the so-called Paddling Styles Demonstration. Although it's by no means exhaustive in presenting all the ways that canoes can be propelled, it does cover the variety of canoeing styles that are taught at the workshop. Here they are.
Caleb Davis demonstrates the Classic Canadian Solo paddling style, also known (oddly) as "Omering" for its popularizer, Omer Stringer.

Not really a demonstration of a paddling style, the kids at the symposium raise a salute while paddling a "war canoe" to remind us that they represent the future of the sport.
Geoff Burke demonstrates "double-paddle" canoeing, a.k.a., double-bladed paddling, in a Rushton-style lapstrake canoe that he built.

Lisa DeHart gives a demonstration of poling, touring-style.

Lynne Lewis (bow) and Jane Barron show the Northwoods stroke, a paddling style developed in Maine that allows the paddler to keep going all day with minimal effort.
River touring skills were demo'd by Kevin Slater (bow) and Kevin Silliker.

Kim Gass shows off her technique in a Freestyle demonstration. I borrowed her lovely little boat later and managed to dump it in flatwater.
Benson Gray reminds us that it's not all paddling that can make a canoe go. He restored that beautiful old Old Town sponson canoe.
For the first time, Stand-Up Paddling was included at the symposium, demo'd here by Mark Hamlin. While it's certainly related to canoeing, I question the inclusion of SUP in the symposium.

Just because I want to, here's my son Max trying out a SUP board for the first time. Rotten kid stole my PDF!
Reinhard Zollitsch taught a workshop on paddling a solo outrigger canoe. My wife, who is a timid and not very accomplished paddler, found the outrigger very confidence-inspiring.
Jim and Lisa Lisius demonstrate "sit and switch" paddling, a.k.a., American Touring Style. They're doing it in the same canoe in which they paddled entirely across the continental U.S.
Harry Rock showed us how to do Recreational Poling. It differs from Lisa DeHart's style in that it's somewhat sportier and not specifically oriented toward touring with a laden canoe.


  1. Thanks for sharing and thanks for pictures of poling. I am sorry I didn't discover poling earlier in my canoeing career. Poling allows you to stand up in an otherwise tippy canoe. The pole makes a wonderful balancing device and in sufficiently shallow water you can go upstream more easily than with a paddle. And should you encounter some deep pools, you can use the pole as a paddle. Unfortunately, I never got good at going up rapids, even minor ones. The water always seemed to spin the bow around and sent me heading downstream. Perhaps I needed more momentum. Still, lot of fun.

  2. Both of the polers pictured (Lisa DeHart and Harry Rock) are messianic about poling, including its upstream potential. Harry likes the fact that you can take river trips without a shuttle: pole up, then drift down (using either pole or paddle). Harry has a book and a DVD, both titled "Canoe Poling", from Little Dancer. He also wrote "The Basic Essentials of Canoe Poling" (ICS Books), which I believe is out of print.