Firm foot support is key to proper kayak posturing in the cockpit. Bracing your feet while paddling better enables you to transfer energy from the paddle to your boat via your feet as well as your knees and butt. Good foot support also allows you to perform maneuvers as you are “connected” to your boat through the solid contact points at the balls of your feet.
Foot braces typically serve as the primary means of rudder control. While this dual function as both a foot brace and rudder control is convenient, it also presents a challenge to the efficient paddler.
Soft, mushy-feeling foot pedals defeats the purpose of providing firm support needed for proper paddling technique. Yet, fixed pedals don’t allow for the movement needed to pull/ease up on the rudder cable. There are two ways to serve these dual
1) Pedals, adjusted for length, slide along a fixed track. Support comes from the resistance from the rudder cable as it’s pulled/relaxed by applying pressure to one pedal while the other is relaxed allowing the cable to move back and forth along each track as part of an open loop route. Maintaining firm pressure with both feet all the while moving the rudder side to side is an awkward cockpit ‘dance’ requiring extra effort to learn how to apply pressure evening at all times.
2) Hinged pedals are adjusted similarly to the fixed pedal except the rudder cable is attached to an upper, movable pedal unit. Solid pressure can be maintained by the paddler’s foot against the lower unit while the toes/upper foot area can be pushed forward on the upper hinged pedal section attached to the rudder cable.
Firm footing and a responsive rudder make for safer, more efficient paddling.