cruising wing time trial results

After a wing lesson and working with the Onno small-mid wing off and on for about a year, I did four 1 nautical mile time trials with my QCC 700. With the wing set at 211 cm for three of the runs I did between 4.4 and 4.6 kts. For one run set at 214 cm my speed was 4.2 kts. I used a reasonably high wing stroke as instructed.

For comparison, similar trials with my low angle Werner Kalliste or AT Xception resulted in speeds of about 4.6 kts.

At these speeds I am obviously not a racer, but I generally paddle 8 to 10 nm two or three times per week, averaging 4.1 to 4.3 kts. I was curious whether my cruising speeds would improve with the wing. They do not.

An interesting side note is that with the wing set at 214 it feels like I am going faster with a stronger more powerful pull than at 211. Measurement shows this feeling to be false. The wing also feels faster than my low angle paddles, but measurement also shows this feeling to be false.

It is impossible to judge which paddle is most efficient or faster without an actual measurement over the distance of interest.

You are evidently doing something wrong

– Last Updated: Sep-06-11 9:33 PM EST –

I am 75 years old, and can paddle a flat water mile at 6.0 MPh with my ONNO wing set at 213 and a correct high angle style. With my old Epic touring, I never could do that.
I can easily average between 4.5 and 5.0 for an eight or ten miler

Jack L

Well, at 71 I am much younger than you, but clearly not as strong. Anyway the numbers were in kts, not mph, so your 6.0 mph = 5.1 kts, still faster than my speeds. However, I was just at a fast cruising pace, as noted in the title of the thread, so was able to do four repeats with about a 2 minute rest in between without much difficulty.

I was interested in whether the wing provides benefit at my cruising speeds vs my low angle paddles and stroke, and find that it does not.

Your 4.5 to 5.0 mph = 3.8 to 4.25 kts, vs my 4.1 to 4.3 kts for 8 to 10 nautical miles (nm). Your Epic is a high angle paddle and I get a better speed with a smaller low angle stroke.

Heart Rate?
Would be interesting to check your cruising speeds against your heart rate too. It is really impossible to tell your effort by just looking at speed alone. Look at your speed for a given heart rate. See if one paddle or another gives you an advantage.

If you are not overpowerting your euro paddles (and you should not be at touring speeds), I expect the difference to be minimal. The wing being slower probably is due to technique and your ability to rotate - a wing really benefits from a good rotation. With a euro paddle you can paddle with the paddle closer to the boat with a bit less rotation and still get good results; not so with a wing, IMO - if it is not swinging wide it is not working properly, and if you are not rotating from the seat you can’t really power it well through the swing to the side…

Wings “can” be more efficient
and faster, provided YOU have the skill and strength to optimize them. Very same scenario with boats.

Are wings faster? Absolutely and there’s a zillion data points among racers to support that. Are they faster for a 71 year old paddler with unknown skill?

Apparently not. Why the race anyway? Who cares?

Your results don’t surprise me at all. In fact they make sense. Use what works best for you and remember the only conclusion worth anything is that of what’s best for YOU.

Have fun and put the clock away…

racer data points
I don’t doubt that racers can achieve higher speeds with wings. Not being a racer, the question that intrigues me is whether for two hour cruising at 4 to 4.5 kts I can eke out an extra quarter of a kt with the wing, or maintain my same speed with less effort. Finding this out is part of the fun of the sport. So far tests on myself indicate no benefit from the wing. I enjoy the clock and trying to improve speed/efficiency.

Kocho, I take your point about rotation. My instructor said I don’t rotate enough, tho it seems to me I do. Although the time trial results apply only to me, I would be curious if other middling paddlers like myself do benefit from the wing.

One thing I do know is that ones sense of speed can be very misleading. It may feel like one is going faster with a particular paddle, but that feeling is not to be trusted. It feels to me that I AM faster with the wing, but the numbers tell a different story.

the only conclusion worth anything is…
"…the only conclusion worth anything is that of what’s best for YOU." -Salty

As wings have gained popularity there has been the usual “it is best for all paddlers at all times” mentality that always accompanies fads.

The temptation I feel for acquiring a wing is to help my technique/rotation.

Use a GPS and plot data

– Last Updated: Sep-06-11 11:43 AM EST –

The only real way to pick up on subtle changes is
to actually collect data from a GPS unit and plot it.

I use the simple free account feature
and my old GPS 60 which still works fine.

This allows you to see actual moving time
-strips out time for bathroom
-strips out time for drink/snack break
-strips out time fr adjustments to clothing/gear

You'll be able to see when you are in a grove,
blasting away at the distance, how the wind affect you,

Actual moving time -can- be quite different from overall
when compared to a three or 4 hour training run on water.

I get it
you like the analysis and are testing the “reality” for you Vs “absolutes” in marketing etc. That’s cool, and I appreciate that! Perhaps more should do so rather than just buying what the brochure says.

My point here is that for YOU, a wing is clearly not adding speed or enjoyment at this juncture. There are many fine touring paddles out there that might be more pleasant. As your stroke develops a wing may yield results currently not attainable. But that’s all part of the journey.

A year from now the story may be very different.