Hey Creek boaters and shop guys - paddle advice - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-13-2004   #1
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Hey Creek boaters and shop guys - paddle advice

Why do I see so few creek boaters out there with bent shaft paddles. Is it the price, durability, performance or tradition? My shoulders ache after lots of hard creeking and I'm thinking of changing. I beat the hell out of my paddle and I absolutely need something durable. Also, what's the difference between carbon fiber blades or fiberglass blades - which is more durable? Anyone have recent experience with the new Lightning, werner or AT paddles? Also, what's the sizing difference? Bent shafts are usually purchased longer, right? Sorry for the barrage of questions, but it's time for me to move on from my trusty werner ww rec paddle that now resembles a toothpick. For reference I almost exclusively creek boat.

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Old 11-14-2004   #2
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Asheville, North Carolina
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Lots of creekers use bent shaft paddles. For me and some of my boating friends they work well and keep my elbows low and my hands inside the "box" to prevent shoulder dislocation. A downside of using bent shafts is that they are expensive, but once you get used to it you will probably not go back to the straight shaft. Also, I dont know of any bent shaft break-downs, so if you snap it on a run you may be reverting to a straight shaft. I'd recomend a werner sidekick or equivalent. Also, carbon-fiber cloth is stronger than just fiberglass and is more expensive. Good luck
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Old 11-14-2004   #3
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Englewood, Colorado
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I've creeked with a Werner Sidekick Bentshaft (glass shaft and blades) for four seasons now, and I think it rules. As for the tech questions - carbon is stronger than fiberglass, but when it fails, it tends to fail more catastrophically than glass does, i.e., you might be able to limp out better with a broken glass rather than carbon paddle. This should not be an issue as you should have a breakdown when creeking anyway. Sizing is the same as a regular paddle.

If you are having joint issues (for me it was elbows) DO NOT get a carbon shaft or you will make it worse. I think the ideal creek paddle is a bent glass shaft with carbon blades.

Word through the grapevine is that Werner is about to come out with new designs that are better and cheaper than their old ones, and that they are bringing back the glass bentshafts, which haven't been made for a few years. Personally, I plan to wait for those to come out and then get one, as my 197 is now a whole lot shorter than that.

I've used a few SS Lightnings and liked them. Friends who own them seem to feel good about them. I think of them as a less expensive alternative to Werner.

I play with an AT2, which contrary to all the talk about them breaking, has held up to three 90-100 days seasons' worth of use. I am very pleased with my AT2, but I would not choose it as a creek paddle, as it was not made for that. I've used an AT3 a few times - it's heavy, but it seems to break more than it should for being that heavy (I worked in a very busy shop out in the SE for a couple seasons). Can't comment on the AT4.

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Old 11-14-2004   #4
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
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Creek Sticks

I think when it comes to shaft styles, that's still dealers choice. Some people like bent shaft paddles and they tend to still creek with their bent shaft paddles. Other like straight. Other reasons play into creek boating as well: cost of gear (replacement cost), durability of materials, ease of repair, grip and option potentials (loss your grip how fast can you get it back into place).

Straight shaft paddlers tend to prefer options that include. The price of most straight shaft paddles being lower than bent shafts. The paddle shafts are well balanced and very strong. They also give tons of options for grip width and areas were you can get a good grasp on the paddle. They have also been around forever and are what most people started with.

Bent shaft paddlers prefer the ergonomics and the positive grip position. They may also take a closer look at what the paddle is made of.

Werner (new for 2005). A smaller version of the Sidekick/ Player called the Twist perfect for kids and the ladies. Powerhouse and the Sherpa, their new river running blades- they're bigger than the Sidekick with less percentage of the blade consisting at the tip (more into the center of the blade- nicely balanced). And, for bent shafts they changed a couple of things. They moved away from having the carbon shaft and the fiberglass blades. Now they have two options. Fiberglass blades and fiberglass shaft or carbon blades and carbon shaft.

As far as bent shaft brakedowns... it might be more important for using as a traveling paddle. But, I think most people are more stoked to have a breakdown- than not having one. They really don't care if it's straight or if it's bent. This might be more important if you are left handed and only use left handed paddles- then having a left handed breakdown is a must- because jumping from right to left handed offsets is not as easy to adjust to on the fly as switching from a straight to a bent shafted paddle.

Blade shape, length, and materials are more often the determining factors when buying a paddle for creeking. Look for something that gives you the power you want balanced with the turnover rate your comfortable with. Then choose a material you know will handle the abuse your going to put on that paddle, and a price your comfortable paying for the paddle.
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Old 11-14-2004   #5
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How do carbon bent shafts make your joints worse and are all 2004 werner bent shafts carbon?
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Old 11-14-2004   #6
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In reference to Don's comment about the breakdown bent shafts and that we don't want them...I think that this is untrue. Being a creekboater, I am "glad to just have one," but as a bent shaft paddle user/abuser I can atest that I would be grateful to be given the oppurtunity to purchase a breakdown bent shaft paddle. I have contemplated making my own and I don't think it would be that hard to make a two peice breakdown bent shaft paddle. I also don't think it would be that hard for a company to produce a four piece breakdown, with cheap fiberglass blades and a plastic shaft. Come'on Werner, where you at. Read my Clark's Fork article for testimonial @ http://coloradokayaking.com/Stories/Clark%20Fork/ if you've ever had to make the switch, it's not "that" easy.
Joe, bent shafts are my paddle of choice because of the power and leverage characteristics they posses and also because of the comfort level they provide. I essentially learned with a bent shaft though so I'm certainely biased. By the way, nice pic of the Thompson...so good isn't it.
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Old 11-14-2004   #7
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If you wish for it... it will... it HAS happened. You can buy 4 piece bent shaft WW paddles from Riot and from Lendel. Lendel is an incredable racing paddle maker.

You might be able to make a home-made Werner brakedown, but 2 pieces are as good as your going to get. I think if any paddle maker could make a four piece bent shaft it would be Werner. Also being Werner it might not happen for a while. It has something to do with meeting up to the Werner standards. Which are as high as they get.


Carbon is stiffer than fiberglass, plastic and wood. Carbon shafts tend to pass more vibration through the fibers and this can add up to discomfort or even injury. (Kind of like the difference between hitting a baseball with an aluminum or wooden bat.) It's that same stiffness that people are looking for when they buy a carbon vs. FG paddle. The stiffer fibers equal instant transfer of energy.

Werner will only offer the current choice which is Carbon shaft Carbon blades or Fiberglass shaft and Fiberglass blades. No more will the carbon shafts be coming with fiberglass blades.
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Old 11-15-2004   #8
Denver, Colorado
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For your sore shoulders you should try a wider grip. We had an employee who used a narrow grip Seven2, we switched her to a wider grip and her shoulders immediately started to feel better. When you hold your hands in closer on the shaft you have to use more leverage for forward paddle strokes. This leverage is putting strain on your shoulders. If you use a wider grip you are forced to use more torso rotation...which is what you want.

As far as bent shaft. AT4 has been a very popular and durable paddle. They can take great abuse. The AT2 is an amazing paddle but it can't take the abuse.

Werners, of course, are great paddles as well. They have many, many years of great success with durable paddles.

The new up and coming paddle that NEEDS to be mentioned in this post is:

There has been previous posts on the buzz about this paddle so you can go back and read some of them but I will add some more info again. I think that this is the strongest paddle on the market. It has a wood shaft from tip to tip. It is then wrapped in glass and kevlar. It has a foam blade...amazing for everything. The paddle has great flex to it...which helps joints. They will make you whatever size grip width, grip size, length, color. They make them in good ole CO!! If you ever had a problem he is right here in CO to take care of anything.

Here's my thoughts on a paddle that is a solid circumference of mass. Take a tree for example...they are a solid mass of wood. The sphere shape is one THE STONGEST structural shapes. If a tree was hollow in the middle you would probably have a lot of trees falling down in wind storms. Another example of why having a hollow shaft has less strength. You can put a lot of weight on a coke can when it is perfectly round. The second you put a dent in the can it will crumble. This works the same for a paddle...the second the shaft is dented...GAME OVER!!

This paddle has been overlooked because of its lack of history. They are quickly gaining popularity. A previous post of new team paddlers shows this paddle is starting to be recognized by paddlers all across the nation.

This was the first season I didn't break a paddle. I have broken every brand of paddle out there. I don't blame the paddles...I blame myself for being very abusive to them. I am forever a Woody paddle user. It took my abuse all season long! It got me down some very committing creeks, it took low water abuse at play spots. Don't make the mistake in not trying one.
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Old 11-16-2004   #9
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more on Woody

Mark is absolutely right about the Woody paddles. I had the opportunity the other day to visit their shop and see how the paddles are made.

I guess there has been some question as to how you can make a bent-shaft paddle out of wood. Well, it's a secret, but it is for real. The paddle really is made of wood from end-to-end. The blades are made with an "air-core" that uses foam for strength and bouyancy, while being light-weight. They use Kevlar and carbon fiber to reinforce the paddle and the blade tips are reinforced with a material called Dynel, so they won't wear down.

If you have a Woody, you shouldn't need to worry about using your spare paddle, because your Woody is virtually unbreakable. That doesn't mean it cannot be done... but you can have much more confidence with a Woody than any other paddle out there. I am not, and will never be a hard-core paddler. I am a timid class III-IV boater who worries a lot about what can go wrong. A Woody paddle gives you one less thing to worry about.

You also asked about why some creekers don't have bent-grip paddles. For many, it is just like shaped skis. When the first shaped skis came out, the hard-core skiers laughed and made fun of them. Now they laugh and make fun of people who ski on straight skis. The straight shaft paddle is going the way of the straight skis and long kayaks.

And yes, if you want a straight shaft paddle, you can get one., but I'm not sure why you would want to.

Regarding the question about the size of the paddle the cool thing about Woody is that they are 100% custom hand-made paddles. You choose your grip-width, offset, grip size and left- or right-handed and the paddle is made for you. It takes about two weeks from start to finish to make a paddle.

The Woody Custom paddles team is growing rapidly. Pro-paddlers who try the Woody are joining the team at a fantastic rate. Wayne, the owner of Woody, told me that Mike Mathwin just joined the team as well as the people I mentioned in an earlier post.

For an awesome review, go to http://www.wetvirginia.com/woodyreview.htm

Finally, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the price is going up $55 on Jan 1. So you can save some dough by ordering one at http://www.woodycustompaddles.com before the new-year.
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Old 11-16-2004   #10
Join Date: May 2004
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Boy, I wonder if the people who made those last two posts are involved with Woody's paddles. It smells fishy to me.
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