Originally Posted by Dave Frank
I fail to see why you'd give up the power of a pair of oars...
Because frames and oars are not only heavy but also clunky to schlep around. They are not necessary everywhere.
In my commercial days, my way to deal with the summer doldrums was to see how FEW paddle strokes I needed to call from my passengers. I never counted them, but I swear I could get a 6 load from fish bridge to the railroad crossing with under 30 strokes, probably less. The de-rig was easier to boot. I've R-1ed the kids and their friends through class 2 with nobody else paddling many times. So ya, R-1 is a viable option, even with others aboard.
Yes the J-stroke is hefty in a R-1, but this is not a canoe. The technique I use in place of a J-stroke is more of a lever where the tube of the boat is the fulcrum, as K2 describes. I also sit off the very back of the raft rather than on a 'hind quarter'. The farther away from the center of the boat you are it is easier to spin the boat. Sitting toward the middle gives you more forward/backward leverage.
In R-2 we would more often run in a diagonal position rather than side by side. This allows to spin on the dime while maintaining capability for efficient forward/ backward movement.
There are lots of ways to skin this cat.