A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

New paddle

May 30, 2009
Emilie Phillips

Saturday afternoon we went paddling. There had been various ideas along the way about we were going to paddle, but it ended up that for the half day, it made most sense to go try out paddles for me at Charles River Canoe & Kayak and maybe try out a wing paddle.

The reason I needed a new paddle was to get along with Tyson in the tandem. You see, I had a small low angle paddle, and Tyson has a big high angle paddle. Low angle paddles are ment for easy long distance touring, so each stroke doesn’t put much power into the water. Combine that with the fact that I had a small blade, and I end up paddling reasonably fast to contribute to the tandem going forward. Unfortunately, kayaks work best when both people paddle at the same rate, so Tyson paddles faster to keep up with my cadence. His huge paddle really makes a difference, so then the boat goes faster, so then I have to paddle faster to achieve anything, so then Tyson paddles faster to keep up with me, so then the boat goes faster, I go faster, Tyson goes faster, boat goes faster, … eventually it ends up in an argument and then the boat slows down for a while.

Obviously we needed to get better matched paddles. Tyson didn’t want to give up his paddle, so that left me to find a different paddle.

The place we went to is awesome. They pulled out about six different paddles for me to try and one wing paddle for Tyson, and the we put our boat in and paddled around. I had been under the impression that for sea kayaking, you really wanted a low angle paddle, but the sales guy working with me said it actually came down to paddler preference.

I decided to start with the low angle paddle one size larger than mine. Then there was basically the same paddle, but with a bent shaft and foam core. The bent shaft is for ergonomics. It means your wrist doesn’t end up at as odd of an angle. I had never tried it before, but it does really seem to make a difference for me. I don’t get the extreme tightness in my left arm that has made me stretch every five minutes while paddling. The foam core blade makes the blade more bouyant which means it comes out of the water at the end of the stroke more easily. That had also been something I’d noticed when fatigued. Overall though, the two low angle paddles still left me feeling kind of annoyed.

Then I had three high angle blades of about the same sizes. One was the lower end model without the foam core blades. The other two were the higher end model but different length shafts. I tried the shorter of the foam core paddles first. It was really nice. I think that the high angle stroke agreed with my temperment a little better. Then I kind of half heartedly tried the lower end one, but I had pretty well decided I wanted the foam core. And last I tried the longer one. That one was really nice too. I ended up taking the long and the short out for a comparison paddle. They were both quite sweet, but I ended up deciding that the longer shaft was the ticket for me. It just felt really good paddling it. I didn’t have any tension anywhere.

We did try out the wing paddles, butt I already had my heart set on the one paddle, so when I couldn’t get it to work just right I was ready to give up and go back.

What I ended up with is a Werner Cyprus, bent shaft

Then we spent another 2 hours paddling around for fun. We aren’t nearly fast enough for the Blackburn yet. But after the paddle, I was nicely uniformly sore all over.

Oh, and in the parking lot we ran into some guy with a racing boat who came to chat with us about our boat and the Blackburn. (It is a modified racing boat built by the guy whose boats frequently win the Blackburn challenge.)

Read our decision to race in the Blackburn.

Next training session.