Just tried a new Epic small mid wing paddle ... Wow!
Never tried one, and have been reading all kinds of pros and cons about wings. Watched a few videos, even found a diagram on the stroke vs. a flat paddle. I've been trying to tell myself to forget about it, given my bad shoulder, which went from OK to real bad a number of years ago due to an Ikelos paddle, bad form, and a stubborn newbie who wanted go fast (me).
The wing really does force you to use torso rotation and legs over shoulder power. Unless I've got something wrong, you can feel it in the paddle: it's almost effortless, and the only thing than can get tiring is holding one's arms at a higher stance vs. a low angle. Paddle at an easy steady pace, and this is faster than my flat paddle at the same rhythm. Pick up the pace, and the boat accelerates ... and, if you have it right, there's no increase in strain or stress, no pulling the paddle, just a faster torso rotation.
Or, perhaps more accurately, my normal technique was much worse than even I thought. I think I was pulling the paddle (Kalliste) too much, using my shoulders. When trying to get some power, I could feel the paddle flutter. I got the Kalliste because I could feel some strain from my Shuna paddle, so I decided to go low angle.
What prompted me to go for the wing has to do with the leak, and some wind and big waves. Paddling out past the Bonnet (Narragansett, RI) on Sunday, I discovered I had much less power on the return. The boat was crawling along, sluggish to respond, in 3 foot rollers, some maybe 4. I was against the tide, but with the waves. I had gone through several pods of floating seaweed on the way out, which I figured had caught on the rudder. The slow pace gave me time to consider again the merits of low angle vs. high angle, and ponder a wing.
I decided I'd better get to a beach as soon as possible to get the seaweed off, so I went in to a cove north of the Bonnet, where folks with houses there launch and anchor their boats. Never been in there. So past the private beach, parallel to shore, getting some attention by the bathers on shore with my rare-to-be-seen-in-these-parts surf ski, I realize waves are breaking ... on me. Knowing that can't be a good sign, I turned into the beakers and away from shore, only to see the line of submerged rocks in front of the boat. Contact was immediate, and I bailed out to get the boat higher in the water.
After what was probably a few minutes getting batted about by the waves and stumbling over the rocks (seemed like an eternity), much to the amusement of the folks on the beach, I got myself and the boat out of the rough. Turning it over, a quick survey revealed a lot of seaweed on the rudder, but no visible damage to the boat.
Later, back at the URI beach, a more careful inspection revealed only a scratch or two on the rudder. But when I picked the boat up to carry it to the car, I heard water sloshing about inside the hull. Rocking the boat, I got perhaps a gallon or so out the air vent.
After doing some net surfing at home, I decided to check the rudder housing, where the shaft enters the hull. No apparent damage. So tonight, new wing in hand, I decided to try it on a local lake. Paddled for an hour, no water! I think what happened is the air vent was open when I flipped the boat in the water to check for damage. I did this twice, so I'm guessing that's where the water came from.
So no leak, new wing. All in all, a great day.