Another thought is to go back to the oars. It's true that when you see a picture of a guy rowing a boat he's usually facing backwards. He's doing this because the pulling motion when rowing is stronger than a pushing motion when you're facing forwards. In the whitewater world most of us face forwards and push our oars in the direction we want to go. That's because we need to see the obstacles in front of us. If we have a hard move to make we'll revert back to the pulling stroke. Using this boat with canoe paddles would also be a good alternative. The boat is a little wide to effectively use a kayak paddle.