-- Last Updated: Jun-06-13 1:40 PM EST --
One is the "traditional" wing technique (regardless of weather I use a wing, greenland, or a euro paddle). Paddle starts at the boat and swings out and back. Works best with a wing paddle or a greenland paddle. Works OK with some euro paddles. Top arm moves sideways parallel to the horizon, crossing the center line quite a bit as the stroke progresses. Exit of the paddle is early. Similar to the race stroke for short sprint races. Strong leg drive, not much twist but a lot of rotation. Generally, for longer distances I relax some of the components a bit but the overall form remains the same. It requires good shape and a fast boat to have a satisfactory experience with this technique. But it gives the most top speed and power for me.
Another is a forward "crunch" technique, usually use that with my greenland paddle and alternate with the wing stroke to change what muscles I use. Less rotation, some body twist, power comes from the crunch forward.
Third I mainly use for white water with a short euro paddle. That uses some rotation and body twist. Powerful leg drive but not a long one so there is very little lower torso rotation. There is also some crunch component. The blade stays very close to and parallel to the boat all the time (white water boats don't like it when you have the paddle way to the side - they turn). Exit is very early (no dragging the blade behind the hip).
Many touring sea kayak paddlers seem to use a mild form of the third technque the most. Rotation there is not huge (butt barely slides on the seat, if at all), leg drive is there but not exagerated (short and not too powerful), pulling arm tends to bend, pushing arm does not cross the bow much and stays lower than chin level through most of the stroke (going down towards the end), etc. There is some upper body twist, but not much.
This is just an easy stroke to maintain for a long time with a euro blade, as long as you are not pushing your speed limits. When you want to put in a burst of power, you revert to what I described above for my third option (you will tighten-up your form and lift your front arm, make it cross the bow at chin level, exit the water with the paddle early, more powerful leg drive, perhaps a bit of but sliding, etc.)
Here is an interesting thread with plenty of videos on forward stroke: http://www.surfski.info/forum/2-announcements/17076-forward-stroke-comments.html
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