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Old 10-30-2011   #11
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 163
I have a thirty degree paddle. Am I meant to feather? I learned with a 90 degree paddle in the 80s, so I am used to twisting the paddle. With 30 degrees should I be able to paddle without feathering? I have problems with my right wrist (right hand control) so might it be worth trying a smaller degree of offset?

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Old 10-30-2011   #12
brenda's Avatar
bc, CA
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 316
If you can borrow a 12-15 degree give it a try. I switched because of wrist problems and it has made a huge difference. It will feel weird at first but give it a chance. With my 12 there is very little twisting (if any).

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Old 10-30-2011   #13
Denver / Coloma / Monterey, CO / CA
Paddling Since: 1971
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 119
My two cents:

First off, like many things, paddle length and offset suggestions have been changing over time and there are many opinions of what is "correct". I prefer to think that you can find your own preferences and, if you're comfortable with them, then they are what you should use. This might take some time and experimentation though.

Length: I prefer to have my hands about the same distance apart as I would if I were doing a push-up with the least amount of stress on my arms/shoulders. That is your "strength" position and you should be able figure that out easily enough. Remember, if you are paddling correctly (that's another topic, I know) your arms should be away from your torso (for most strokes). Take a look at photos/videos of the pros either boofing or throwing big tricks and you'll see they are likely to have their arms at least somewhat outstretched. Again, having your arms in a position of strength is beneficial.

Now comes the tricky part. If you use a straight shaft paddle, and your hands are where you like them, your decision is now how much length do you want from your hands to the outside edge of your blade. Then you want to consider the area (sq. inches) of the blade surface. If it's a big blade, and it's a good distance from your hands, you're going to have a lot of power to move your boat around, but you must also be cognizant of how much strain your shoulders can withstand safely. Werner is quite good about noting this on their website in regards to their larger blades.

Typically, but with exceptions of course, play boaters use a shorter paddle for quicker response time (and less likelihood of injuring a shoulder) and creekers/river-runners use a longer paddle to get more leverage on that all important boof stroke or brace. Then again, a lot of us simply use the same paddle for everything. I prefer to do that so I don't have to re-adjust.

For bent shaft paddles, at least Werner and AT, the length is determined between the hand grips, not outside them. In this case, your hand width power/comfort zone is more important than overall paddle length. I'm not entirely sure, but I think Werner paddles are slightly longer from hand grip to paddle end than AT. IE: Given equal hand grip width, a Werner will be a longer paddle. You might want to double check that though.

Degree of offset: There are many, many posts on that and there will likely never be consensus. If you are going to use one control hand and let the other rotate, I agree with a previous poster that some degree of offset is natural. The poster mentioned 12 degress, I find it to be about 30 and Jim Snyder says it's around 40. Do what the previous poster suggested and see if you can find what your wrist action tends to be.

Zero offset is very compelling in that both hands are control hands and reaction time seems to be quicker. It can also be argued that rolling (especially back deck) is easier as neither blade is in a climbing or diving degree of angle. And of course, all strokes are theoretically identical on both sides. Personally I find them uncomfortable if keeping both hands gripped on the shaft. Unless I really crank my body around (actually a good thing, maybe I should work on that), it means I have to bend my upper wrist forward, which is a weak position for the wrist. Some folks simply switch control grip from hand to hand to counter that.

Lastly, it's my opinion that a super tight grip is neither necessary nor healthy. It can lead to stress on the tendons. I suggest consciously moderating your paddle grip until you can feel both relaxed and in control. That should help keep tendon stress to a minimum.

One of the coolest things about any sport is finding what works for you. We're all different and while basic prinicipals should be observed, "correct" can be a matter of opinion. Have fun exploring.
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Old 10-30-2011   #14
wasatchbill's Avatar
Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 228
adamsnez, Werner suggests 188 to 191 for someone 5' tall.
Werner Paddles :: Our Paddles :: Whitewater:: Performance Core

Choosing A Whitewater Paddle | How To Articles – GuideLines:
"Using a paddle that is too long or too large will cost you some control and could put an undue amount of stress on your body."
FSM, you can try my 197s, but I know you don't like them (ATs). The two piece is 198cm.
Why not go with 200? Sounds about right for you. That is what Werner recommends at the above link too, for river-running/creeking; for your height.
I know a couple of expert paddlers who told me they went to 0 degree offset for a couple seasons, then went back up to 12 or 15 degree. I do like the 30 degree AT offset; 45 degree feels weird now. I picked up a two piece AT recently; I figure I can try lower offsets by using duct tape instead of the pop pin that normally locks the halfs together.

If you ever do some sea kayaking, 60 degrees will feel really weird for awhile. I like to mix it up, and trade paddles with folks I paddle with, so I don't get too used to one type of paddle. Paddling with my straight shaft Werner breakdown was a big transition at first.
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Old 10-30-2011   #15
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Good posts in this thread. Paddles seem to be a pretty personal thing. A couple more things to consider... People talk about how much power a paddle generates but I've never heard anyone complain about an underpowered paddle. However, an overpowered (oversized) blade shows in wear and tear on the body. Taking care of our wrists and shoulders is critical in this sport. Snyder's blades tend to be a little smaller and being made of wood the shaft has more life in it. Both contribute to the health of your body. Also, as Jim has said re: bent shaft paddles, "I don't want an engineer telling me where to put my hands on a paddle." As an ELFer and a creeker I find myself working on the skill of adjusting my hands on the shaft. Choking up for a boof stroke or lengthening my reach for the deep water behind a rock is made possible by a straight shaft.
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Old 10-30-2011   #16
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Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 228
Hey Phil, thanks for that Jim Snyder link; really interesting. Speaking of choking up and bent shaft paddles, did you happen to see Sam Sutton's winning run at the Sickline creek race this year? I was surprised how close together his hand position is, on a bent shaft paddle.
Put this in HD, and pause, like at :15, 2:09 and 2:56, and take a look. The thumb side of his hands seems to be on the straight shaft, not even on the bent shaft.
adidas Outdoor: Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship 2011 - YouTube

I have seen a good paddler choke up a lot on a straight shaft, and when asked, he said he got more power that way. That didn't make sense to me; seems like less leverage; but its hard to argue with Sam Sutton's winning run, in such a world-class field.

Does Adidas really make paddles? I can't find specifics on them.
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Old 10-31-2011   #17
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Nice vid. Hard to argue with his success, but... Maybe he was looking for as high a stroke rate as possible. Im no expert but I have watched a lot of world class comps and its always surprising to me how often you see less than perfect technique even with world class paddlers. People like Andrew Holcombe, Bryan Kirk or Pat Keller often stand out with their text book technique. Yeah, I'll include Dustin Urban in Freestyle as someone to watch for flawless technique and he uses a Jimi styk too. Not meaning to knock other guys at all but sometimes even guys that win do so with technique that you wouldn't teach.

As for choking up/leverage... I'm talking about moving both my hands toward one end or the other to make my paddle longer on one side for one stroke but not bringing both my hands closer together. Sometimes if I'm tired or feeling something start to tweak I'll change my hand position, sometimes bringing both closer together, in an attempt to use a slightly different muscle group. I'm not offering myself as an expert here, though I did help shepherd a world class talent and I've watched him from an eddy or the bleachers for 15 years. But mostly I'm just another opinion on the internet.
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Old 11-27-2011   #18
SLC, Utarr
Paddling Since: 08
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 57
here's another vote for what feels right in your hands is right: i'm your height and wingspan FSM and oddly, i love a 194. tried one after using a 197 for ages but always felt a bit stretched out. trying a 194 bent shaft didn't make any sense but after 20 years of skiing and knowing how "if a boot feels intuitively good, don't question it" applies so well to tele and alpine, the 194 was like slipping my foot into a crafted italian soccer shoe. It just felt good.

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