Advice on kayak paddles

I am looking for a bit of advice paddle wise.

I used to be a high angle paddler, still am, having cut my teeth in the whitewater boats of the day.

However transitioning to touring boats, I tend to still start out high angle, but then wind up somewhere after about 2 hours of straight paddling somewhere between high angle and low angle.

My paddling cadence (and I can do this for about 9 hours.) is about 1 stroke a second, or 2 seconds to do a full left/right.

My paddle length is nominally a 228 cm, so I round this to 230 when you calculate for my height and boat.

So really I suppose my question is more related to blade size, since I think I should be getting a bit more speed out of my 17.5ft Tsunami.

With my current paddle (Accent Kuai Carbon.) I’m averaging about 4mph over the course of about 10 miles, following the wind, turning into the wind and crossing the wind. with wind speed around 15 to to 20mph. In addition I use about a 60 deg, feather.

Using a hull speed calculator, I should be closer to the theoretical maximum of about 6 mph.

So I guess the question becomes should I have a paddle with a larger blade surface area and keep my same rhythm, or look into something with a smaller surface area, and increase my rhythm speed.

My current blades have a rough 550 sq/cm area to them.

but whatever I look at should also be light weight as I routinely do 10+ mile excursions.

4mph is a good (comfortable) speed.
It sounds like that you want to go fast (5-6mph).
I would suggest an efficient paddle - a wing paddle with a variable length option (eg Epic mid wing 210-220cm or some variant) and (if you are interested in maximizing your speed) when you are ready for a new kayak, get a ‘Fast Touring’ kayak or a surf ski.
For ‘larger’ bladed paddles, I like the Lendal Storm, and to a lesser extent, the Werner Ikelos (I prefer the Werner Cyprus).

Similar situation with an Epic 18x, 4.5mph over 20 miles, cadence gets slower as I go. I attribute it to tendon/muscle pull from the uneven wrist angle needed to grip the shaft at the thumb side of my hand. Thinking of getting a bent shaft paddle to even it out. Using a Bending Branches whisper.

Wilderness Systems Tsunamis aren’t known as fast kayaks. The speed you are holding on average is pretty good - likely better than most. Better than me, even when I was in shape.

Using the gear you have, one way to speed up would be to increase your cadence. Another way would be to video your stroke and see if you can find areas where it is not as efficient as it could be.

If you don’t find you can increase your cadence, then switching to a larger surface area blade at the same cadence could speed you up.

But I think you are doing pretty good for that boat/paddle already. To really go faster may require changing over to a wing paddle (with proper wing paddle form, which not everyone does). Or better yet, going to a narrower kayak of the same or longer length.

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Have you tried a Werner Camano? That’s my cruising paddle for my long distance boat. I too use a low angle after years of trying everything else. For me it just works better. The 230 length works great for the low angle as it allows an extended stroke length where you are never lifting water.


4mph is pretty good I’ll admit, I can go faster by increasing my cadence however this burns me out.

It seems that my cadence is pretty much my maximum cadence, and it really doesn’t matter if I’m in my Tsunami, or my Field and Stream Fishing boat, or the Pamlico or even my wife’s Aspire heck even my SOT, Riveria, thats my cadence on.

Faster I burn out regardless of the hull. So I was thinking a larger surface area might help.

there are times I want/need to go faster but for most times 4mph is ok. I think if I could find something that gets me to 4.5 or even 5 mph I’d be happy.

@Peter-CA wing paddle, that’s a new one on me. Do tell are they considered high angle or low angle? But yeah changing my cadence faster is not goign to happen as I’m already at my max sustainable cadence.

It’s kind of like in my Army Days, I was the slowest guy in the company, couldn’t go fast for Squat, but, at the speed I could go I could go all day under full pack, carrying my M16 plus our M60 as our one M60 gunner would burn out at about 3 miles humping that thing.

something to do with fast twich vs. slow twich muscle fibers.

@Kevburg - Ive checked it my cadence doesn’t change until about mile 20/25 then I get tired. I’m not a young buck anymore. :slight_smile:

After I hit that point, I i drop to one stroke every 2 seconds. the funny thing is the Tsunami doesn’t seem to slow down. it goes down to a measured GPS 3.9 mph


No, haven’t tried the Werners.

I have the Accents Kuai Carbons, in 220 and 230, a few cheap aluminum paddles (Big box store stuff.) for the Wife and kids. a Few Carsliles, Older model blade like on the Magic Plus. 3 harmony Gear sea passage paddles, 225-240 cm.

The 240 which I get pretty much the same thrust as any of the other paddles albiet slower cadence, tires me out just due to swinging the length of the paddle and it’s weight. Other than that it’d probably be ideal for 4mph in the Tsunami.

I wonder if any of the outfitters have a Werner I could try.

Just FYI, If you get a paddle with bigger blade area but keep the same cadence, you’ll still be doing more work, so you might burn out a little sooner anyway.

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For your parameters I’d suggest the Lendal Cadence 215cm which will adjust to 220cm. Wicked light and superb for distance at a high or high-ish angle stroke. The adjustability might serve you well to fine tune the length for your needs.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions…

I looked into everything everyone posted, and recommended.

I finally went with the Accent Lani paddle at 28oz it was a good compromise between blade area, weight and cost. I figured Id go with something with a bit more area than the Werners and a little more weight than the lendals, and about 100cm/sq larger surface area than my current Accent Kuai paddle. Besides at 1/2 or 1/4 the price of those I can find out if I get a bit more oomph from a larger blade shape without tiring out. If it doesn’t work I’m not out all that much. If it does, speed wise and I find I’m tiring due to weight, then well I’ll be back asking about paddles with roughly the same blade area but lighter.

As an aside, i did get the Lanai, a deciding factor for it was apparently I had a metric ass-ton of points on Amazon so the $160 USD paddle wound up being $9 cost to me.

but again everyone thanks for the hints, when we see how things go with that paddle, it’ll give me big-boy choices and ideas to think further on.

Make yourself (or buy) a wooden Greenland paddle to switch off to for longer trips. You should be carrying a spare anyway and a GP is also great if you run into a lot of wind.

… and a ‘Storm’ paddle is a very easy GP to carry as a spare
(even in a Storm)

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Even better suggestion I carry a 72” GP storm on my bow deck when I’m going to be out on open water with a good chance of windy conditions.

Now with everyone talking about Greenland paddles, which I’ll be the first to admit, I know nothing about…

What makes them more desirable over the euro style paddles?

You look cooler .
Actually it’s a Zen kind of thing. You channel the ancients.
More realistically it puts less strain on your body to give decent paddling speed and control.

One of the biggest advantages of the Greenland paddle is that it will teach you how to paddle.

A europaddle is very forgiving to bad technique. Your travel speed will of course be slower if you use bad technique, but the paddle will not go out of its way to tell you that something is wrong.

A Greenland paddle will yell at you: “You are doing it WROOONG!!! Treat me right, or find another paddling partner.”

This makes it much more easy to correct your paddling technique, so you get an efficient stroke.

And strangely - after being yelled at by the GP, I now also find it much easier to recognize the more subtle signs from the europaddle, when my technique is wrong. So paddling with a GP has made me a better europaddler.


@Allan_Olesen I do agree with you on the GP however, I respectfully disagree on euros as a generic being silent and uncaring on usage. My daughter has an Onno mid Tour and, when I have borrowed it, it has been VERY clear as to how it is to be used and how it is NOT to be used.

First off, Greenland paddles are typically custom built to your physical proportions; your arm span, your grip size, your hand and shoulder span, etc. Secondly, the materials they’re made from, typically cedar or cypress, are lightweight and very buoyant and with a natural finish like boiled linseed oil, they give you a very organic feel.

The longer, narrower blade of a GP may not give you the initial acceleration a Euro blade can but after a few extra strokes you’ll be up to speed with much less stress on your shoulders. The narrower blades are much less affected by wind and the ability to slide the paddle out to either side makes turning, bracing and rolling easier and more effective.

Another minor benefit of GP’s is that you will never look like a newb by carelessly holding your paddle upside down. There is no “right side up” with a GP.

Half my GP’s have been wood and half of them carbon fiber. I have Gearlab’s carbon fiber Akiak model and see that they just came out with a more budget-friendly “starter” GP with polypropylene blades and a fiberglass shaft for $188.

There are usually woodworkers who sell GP’s on Etsy and there are a lot of “make your own” directions on the web.

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I wouldn’t have thought they were as good in a brace, having come from the WiteWater world of kayaking.

this is why my initial paddles are high angle paddles, as this is what I am most familiar with. And it’s only been in the last year when I got into the touring thing that I started looking at the lower angle paddles.

I do like their oomph and the ability they give me to (when river running) go upstream easily against the river. But as I do more touring as opposed to self supported 1-4 hour trips where I run upstream then back down. I find that the high angle is a bit more challenging as it as everyone says is harder on the shoulders.

So right now with staying in my comfort are I did buy a low angle (euro blade) to test out to see if I can transition from my ingraned high-angle style to a low angle.

If that goes well I saw a CF greenland paddle (it also floats.) that was not too expensive @around $200 that weighed in at 20 oz.

Now one question when using a greenland paddle do you go longer than you would on a euro paddle.

Right now I size for high-angle at 220cm and low angle for 230cm but what would this boe in a greenalnd paddle?

Is it sized the same or differently.


Since I’ve been paddling since I was 13, (class4) it just grates on my sensibilities when I see someone holding their paddle backwards.

the other day on the lake I saw someone using their paddle not only backwards but upside down. I offered friendly advice as I passed to them on this and they said they “know what they are doing” and that I “should mind my own buisness”

If they were doing whitewater as opposed to on a lake, I’d have stayed and watched the struggle. Try to be helpful… Geez.

I paddle with a 210 cm high angle europaddle. I wish it was 205 cm.

My Greenland paddle is 228, and that feels right. The overall length is not that important for a Greenland paddle. What matters most is the distance between the shoulders of the blades, where you place your hands.

I am 183 cm (6’).