Excellent paddle maker - Joe O'Blenis

I just got a new Greenland style paddle, which I am excited to try out. I know nothing about them, though, so can’t comment on its quality or performance relative to anything other than my Lendall. However, the same craftsman also built me a bent-shaft canoe paddle. I own and use over 20 canoe paddles, so I am well versed in what “excellent” means in this realm. I wrote a review, but am posting it here, mostly because I am pretty excited about this one. I really like my Grey Owl Marathon, and my WhiskeyJack, but for cruising and lake tripping, this new one will likely be the first choice.

Yes, I gave it a 10. It is true that many reviews have high marks, but in my case, I mostly only review things I like. I have tried many paddles I don’t like, and many that are acceptable. The bent shaft O’Blenis made me is spectacular. I will compare it to my Grey Owl Marathon, which was my favourite bent (also rates a 10!) until it was trumped. The top grip is great on both, full and round so as to produce little hand fatigue or pressure points. The top grip has matching grain which is very attractive. The shaft is ovaled and a suitable diameter on both. The O’Blenis looks to have a laminated cedar shaft with ash facings for durability. The blade is a bit smaller on the O’Blenis paddle, allowing for a higher cadence, and better for long distances, especially in a loaded boat. The blade shape is similar to a zav in that there are pronounced shoulders. The Grey Owl blade is obviously prettier, but the O’Blenis has a pleasing contrast of dark and light laminations. The O’Blenis paddle has a curved bend at the elbow, and somewhat less angle than the 14 degree grey owl. The blade of the O’Blenis paddle is covered in s-glass which should make it durable, but there is no edging, which suggests that pushing off rocks is a poor idea. I inadvertently stepped on mine and it flexed nicely with no damage while I cringed in fear. The O’Blenis paddle is about 4 oz lighter (my kitchen scale says 16.5oz). The workmanship is first rate, with a smooth finish throughout and an excellent job on the glassing of the blade.

In the water the paddle is noticeable in its quick recovery time, and smooth, quiet entry. I found no flutter or imbalance in the stroke, and it performs as one would expect a premium paddle to.

In summary, the O’Blenis paddle will be my choice for a flatwater tripping bentshaft, and long-distance recreational races. I’m sure bigger blades are available, as he custom makes these paddles. Contact info: http://www.joeoblenis.com/

Excellent paddler as well it seems!

Yup - I found that out too
I lost his e-mail so googled him and found out about his exploits paddling cross-country and around Vancouver Island. It stands to reason that people who have logged that many miles know what works and feels comfortable.

I tried one of his GP’s last weekend…
VERY impressed. Silent catch, no flutter, improved speed. I’m hooked!

Glad you liked it!
Thanks for the review Canoehead, I’m glad that you liked the paddle I built you. It was my first bent shaft and they will only get better. Been making Greenland sticks for years but just now expanding into canoe paddles.

Cheers…Joe O’