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How to Paddle a Tandem Kayak

Tandem kayaks, or doubles, are a great way for two people to get out on the water together. Watch or read on to learn more about tandem kayaks and how to practice paddling, navigating, and turning a tandem kayak!

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Tandem Kayaks Make for Wide, Stable Recreation

Tandems are typically wider than single kayaks, which makes them very stable, and therefore a great way for introducing new paddlers to the sport. In fact, you can take almost anyone kayaking in a recreational tandem. They're great for kids, parents, grandparents, or even your dog! Your passenger doesn't even need to paddle if they don't want to. Just sit them in the bow and take them on a tour of the bay. Although tandems provide a great opportunity for taking a passenger for a ride, if both people are paddling, tandems can travel surprisingly quickly.

Paddling in Unison

The most efficient way of paddling them is by doing so in unison. Not only will you power your kayak forward most quickly, but you'll also avoid the clashing of paddles. It can take some practice at first, but is well worth the team effort!

Strength in the Back

If there's one paddler who's physically stronger than the other, it makes sense for them to sit in the back seat, while the weaker sits up front and dictates the paddling pace. From the back, the stronger paddler can modify their stroke to keep pace, and will also have enough control over the boat to keep paddling if the person up front wants to take a break.

How to Turn a Tandem Kayak

Some tandems are equipped with a rudder, which can really help to keep the boat running straight, or to make light course corrections. When it comes to actively turning though, the best solution involves a little teamwork instead of the rudder. Ideally, the front paddler takes a forward sweep on one side, while the stirring paddler performs a reverse sweep on the opposite side of the kayak. In unison, this can turn a boat surprisingly quickly while stationary.

Looking for a Tandem Kayak?

If you are looking for a tandem kayak, be sure to check out tandem kayaks in the paddling.com gear guide. With dozens of new models available, be sure to read tandem kayak reviews or filter down your options to find the right boat to suit your needs.

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