Single Ended Paddles

If one looks carefully at C1 and C2 slalom canoe/kayak racing, (come to the Pumphouse if you want to see these boats in action) you are struck by how different the boats and paddles are from more traditional Native or Inuit ones.

For example a slalom whitewater C1 boat appears to be a recent development - you take a kayak, because it is sleek and keeps water out - but instead of sitting, you kneel and use a single blade paddle like a canoe.  To one's surprise this has been around for perhaps thousands of years, not as a means of managing whitewater, but for other reasons.  The Inuit of the western arctic, Alaska and Siberia utilized a single ended paddle for manoevring in tight spaces in pack ice, and also as a means of more stealthily approaching game.  A double bladed paddle provides a more obvious signal that the hunter is approaching than a single blade would.  These Inuit paddlers also kneeled in their boats, which was called a "baidarka" in Russian.  Here are some pictures from Harvey Golden's amazing pages on Traditional Kayaks.





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