Define High/Low Angle paddle stroke

I’ve listened to the argument from different paddlers and various sources, but have never been provided with a concise definition. If No one has a definitive answer, I suppose a concensus will have to do. So, whats your take?

without using a protractor…
I typically say that if the paddle angle in relation to the water is greater than 45 degrees, you are paddling high angle. If it is less than 45 degrees you are paddling low angle. I guess theoretically there is the medium angle as well…

simple applied physics
flat, horizontal paddleshaft angles TURN the boat by inducing YAW.

higher, vertical strokes don’t.

Pivot point of the boat moves forward when the boat moves forward (bow pinch, stern eddy) so a high angle stroke, done forward will be effective in moving straight forward.

45 degrees makes sense, if you MUST have anactual angle.


Make’s sense so far
I never thought it was overly important, but a friend of mine is considering buying a new paddle, and discovered that many of the AT Paddles list their paddles as “low-angle.” He does not want to buy the wrong paddle, and asked if I could define stroke angle for him. I realized that I really couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer. Why would AT describe some of their paddles as “low-angle?”

i’ll hazard a guess
the asymmetry of many kayak blades adds equal area to the top of the outer tip and the bottom of the heel of the blade in order to keep the area of the blade on each side of the axis of the paddle equal- balanced- at low paddling angles.

its also about blade length
for euro paddles in general long blade length =low angle.

A/T- cool
the AT paddles are really cool as they work WELL in both low and high angle paddling styles. i just finished an IDW and demonstated the difference and pros and cons of both ‘styles’ with my AT.

because they have a relatively neutral curve and very relaxed crank (or shaft bends) they work quite well in many different applications.

For ruddering and draw work they are awesome, especially in the foam core models. they really are quite similar to a wooden greenland stick in their feel. Granted, NOT a GP but a similar, neutral feel.


One other…
I was taught that is your top hand crosses at mouth level, that’s low angle and if it is at eye level it’s high angle…

Probably more low angle paddlers than you think…

the gory details, . .
Consider the variations in shape of air plane wings. On one extreme you have a fighter jet with short and wide wings and on the other there’s a glider with long and narrow wings. A common way to refer to these differences in shape is via their aspect ratio, defined as the length (from fuselage to tip) divided by the width (from leading to trailing edge). Higher aspect ratios enhance straight line efficiency relative to fuel consumption while lower aspect ratios enhance performance relative to turning and acceleration.

Low angle paddles have higher aspect ratios (a GP is an extreme example), while high angle paddles have lower aspect ratios (like a WW paddle).

High aspect (low angle) paddles tend to enhance strokes where the force is somewhat across the edges of the paddle blade (sculling, sweeping braces, bow rudders, hanging draws, “wing-style” forward stroke, etc). Low aspect (high angle) paddles tend to enhance strokes where the force is somewhat perpendicular to the paddle blade (braces, classic forward stroke, draw, etc.)

Most high effort paddlers prefer high angle (low aspect ratio) paddle shapes. Most low effort paddlers prefer low angle (high aspect ratio) paddle shapes. Remember that these are statistical definitions but there’s no hard and fast rules that cannot be broken. I’m a relatively high effort paddler but my paddle choices run contrary to the norm in that I use high aspect ratio (low angle) paddles like the Werner Kalliste while most of the people I paddle with use low aspect (high angle) paddles like the Werner Ikelos and Lendal Knordkap.

High angle (low aspect ration) paddles tend to work better in slightly shorter lengths while low angle (high aspect ration) paddles to to work better in slightly longer lengths. I’m sure the above is more than you wanted to know but without the technical background it is difficult to understand why the variations exist.