No one mentioned

– Last Updated: Sep-17-15 9:14 AM EST –

I don't think anyone mentioned shaft shape. That is the part of the paddle shaft where your hands rest on most new better paddles. They aren't oval shaped just for hand comfort like some people seem to think. It is so that your hand can recognize the blade indexing and you can keep your eyes trained elsewhere.

A long time ago, I really never fully understood why most Euro-paddles had this often radical feathering capability. On this one occasion, I was paddling into a wind that became increasingly strong and very gusty. I was paddling with zero feather and then when a couple of very strong gusts almost took the paddle out of my hands and nearly brought the boat to a halt, a light went on and I figured it all out.

Where I paddle most of the time, the wind is either blowing up, or down the river, so unless I'm just paddling across the river, at some point I'm paddling into the wind and it does make a big difference if you're trying to push the flat surface of the blade into the wind for hours.

I've played around with minor feathering and I've finally settled on zero for downwind, or no wind and 60 degrees for going upwind, but if the wind is very strong I might go to 80, or 90 degrees.

I have to thank one of the members here (Jack L) for educating me about not feathering with abeam winds. This happened quite awhile back when a similar thread came up. Since as I stated, where I paddle, the wind is seldom on my beam, I never thought much about it, but when it was brought up, that light came on again.

No oval shaft shape

– Last Updated: Sep-14-15 3:00 PM EST –

on my Werner Cyprus. Probably just as well since I move my hands around depending on conditions.

A previous poster suggested that everyone should try a feathered paddle.

Yesterday I paddled five miles upwind on Lake Michigan to get back to my car. No idea what the wind speed was but there were whitecaps and waves breaking over my bow. When I got home and checked my weather app, small craft warnings had been posted. My Forerunner reported I managed 3.5 mph average speed, with 4.2 max (the latter speed probably registered when I made it into the harbor).

While the experienced paddlers here no doubt would have gone faster, I was in no hurry; just enjoying the learning experience and wet ride back (thankfully wearing a neo jacket and surfskin pants as the wind was cold).

What would I gain from a feather? I have no wrist or shoulder problems - and don't want to create any by changing a forward stroke I'm quite comfortable with.


– Last Updated: Sep-14-15 3:28 PM EST –

Personally speaking, everything is tuned to my feather angle (unfeathered). Not just roll, but braces and other strokes. On top of that, the only time I've paddled in a strong enough wind for me to notice a pull on my blade, I needed those braces to be tuned in and the conditions didn't provide the luxury of stopping and adjusting my feather angle. I was bracing with nearly every stroke.

I wish there were (reliable) sources for the idea that feathering originated from whitewater slalom paddling. As far as I could find reliable and logical information, feathering was already in use for flatwater racing when slalom paddlers started to use it. Also feathered paddles are still in use with Sprint Kayak racing.

I learned “control hand” paddling with a 60-degree feathered paddle and a high-angle stroke when I started sea kayaking, and never had wrist problems. I’ve used lower feather angles over the years for whitewater and flatwater, but completely unfeathered with a “euro” paddle still feels wrong. On the other hand, an unfeathered Greenland paddle feels just fine.

Oh well. If we were all completely rational we wouldn’t have much to talk about. :wink:

just for kicks
ever try feathering opposite the direction you usually feather, or opposite your control hand?

Makes for some fun. Particularly during kayak polo.

One piece double bladed paddles that are feathered are either “right hand control” or “left hand control”. Nearly all right handers use right hand control paddles.

A fair number of left handers use right hand control paddles as well, because they are more commonly available, and every so often a left hander has to make do with a borrowed paddle, which is nearly invariably a right hand control.

I have occasionally tried out a paddle that happened to be left hand control. It is certainly awkward but can be managed.

More practice
Hey Slushpaddler, what were you paddling and in what kind of waves? I’ve paddled in 9’ breaking waves and didn’t have the need to brace even once and there is always a lull between the biggest sets. It takes me about one second to feather one of my paddles and maybe two seconds for the one I use the most.

I am right handed and I have used both my right and left hands for the control. I find it more intuitive to control with my left hand. Maybe it’s just what you get used to.

4’-5’ clapotis

– Last Updated: Sep-15-15 1:59 PM EST –

no break between sets. But my point is that my memory recalls the paddle blade in a certain position when it hits the water. In conditions warranting it, every forward stroke has a brace component. I'm not about to shake that up.

I could ask you what kind of wind you were paddling in, because I've never had to feather to avoid losing my paddle. But really, my comment concerned me; feathering for wind just does not enter my equation and I explained why. I'm not saying it's so for everyone else. This is one of those cool areas where personal preference has a lot of influence.

As magooch says
It is more “intuitive” to use the opposite hand as control. So, if you’re left handed use the right hand for control and vice versa for the right. Not only that, but you’ll also find that your stroke is more powerful at the plant. I found this out by chance, when my wing paddle would always flip me, paddling parallel to the wind with right hand control on my surfski. Re-adjusted the shaft to left hand control and no flipping took place, plus my speed increased also. All these years, I’ve been right hand control, and all it took was a simple switch to left hand control to boost my speed.

Greenland Paddle
Yeah, I think your logic about using a Greenland paddle is correct. Zero feather would make learning the GP and switching back and forth from euro to GP easier. I loaned my GP to a guy who paddles a feathered euro at a roll session and he was super-uncomfortable with it.


– Last Updated: Sep-17-15 9:20 AM EST –

When the washing machine comes on and there is no pattern to the waves, I will admit that being feathered (for upwind) does leave just a little doubt about how accurate a brace would be and I think there have been a few occasions when I went back to flat--just in case. Every time, though, the boat got me through without any close calls.

The time I referred to when the wind nearly snatched my paddle away was not in big waves; it was from some really strong blasts of wind that were on top of maybe 25 mph in a location where there was no fetch for wave build.

The hairiest time I remember was when I had to make a crossing where the waves were pretty much all steep and breaking--due to a very strong wind against a strong outgoing tide. As usual, it didn't look too bad from where I started, but I knew that it would be much worse than it looked, but it looked manageable. I didn't even consider going beam to the waves--that wouldn't have gotten me where I wanted to go. It was a 45 degree angle to the face of the waves, or nothing. Well, it started out working pretty well, but the further I got the stronger the wind got and the bigger the waves and every time the bow would crest through the curl the wind would catch it and try very hard to put me back abeam. The rest of the trip I could have completed with a single blade paddle, because it was all digging as hard as I could on the lee side just to keep the bow at about 45 degrees. It was a bit of a relief when I reached the other side and could put the bow straight into the waves. I learned a number of things on that adventure.

Yes, me too
A little disorienting at first.

One reason I switch, is to avoid the ‘spray’ coming off the paddle from the wind.

If the wind is coming from the right quarter, I’ll set the feather to the left side (& vise-versa).


What is the rule?
I am mostly a single blade canoeist, but occasionally I’ll use a double blade in either a canoe or a kayak. As I think about feathering, and look at the available holes, I can either pick a hole above or below the zero position. I assume there is a rule about this that is possibly related to the control hand, but I don’t know what it is. Can someone enlighten?



But that seems to be when we learn some useful things, right?

I think if I were used to a feathered paddle I’d have the same retention built in. I have to admit when the gales get really strong I try to stay off the water (if possible).

right and left hand control
Hold your feathered paddle with a firm grip with your right hand with the right blade oriented vertically and positioned as if you were about to take a forward power stroke. Look at the left blade. The power face will either be facing somewhat upward or somewhat downward. If it is facing upward the paddle is right hand control, if otherwise it is left hand control.

The left hand blade of a right hand control paddle is positioned for a forward stroke by cocking the right wrist backward while maintaining a firm grip with that (control) hand. The paddle shaft is allowed to rotate loosely in the left hand as the right wrist is cocked back.

Greenland Paddle
Feather or no feather with a Euro paddle will make no difference in the use of a Greenland paddle. Before I switched to a Greenland paddle (which I now use exclusively), I always feathered. Usually about 60 degrees. Since the stroke of a Greenland paddle is different than that of a Euro paddle, the challenge lies in learning to use it correctly. If you go Greenland remember this: “no rotation”.

This is my “how not to use feathered”
“The left hand blade of a right hand control paddle is positioned for a forward stroke by cocking the right wrist backward while maintaining a firm grip with that (control) hand. The paddle shaft is allowed to rotate loosely in the left hand as the right wrist is cocked back.”

If someone asked me to do a demonstration of how not to use a feathered paddle, the above is what I would do.

I think “control hand” probably exists in everyone in differing degrees, often in harmless degrees. I believe it should be discouraged overall. I’m not sure the usefulness in paying special attention to (describing as instruction towards a way of doing)developing a control hand with a firm grip. That practice has downfalls. A#1 on the downfall list is a firm-gripping hand and cocking wrist as part of a forward stroke. Then you have all your non-control-hand steering and bracing and sculling and rolling trying to be controlled by the hand opposite the active blade. Differing degrees of extreme right or left-handedness probably make this more successful or less successful. But I would teach people to develop the feel with the active hand, and the dominant hand will fill in without making a point of it.

Not really much to describe here. Just go out with a feathered blade, stop cocking your wrists, and do what needs to be done without that wrist action. I got that wrist-cocking control-hand instruction when I first started. And upon shortly developing just a feeling in my wrist, that method was out the window. Turns out, there’s no need for it. Straight wrists and relax your grip have been very useful advice for me over the years.

I have been paddling in the manner I describe for many years and have had no problems with it. Furthermore, I have taken instruction and paddled with some of the best whitewater kayakers in the world who paddle that way and teach that method and they seem to do just fine.

The only difficulty I have encountered with that approach is when teaching beginner and intermediate kayakers a so-called off-side roll. This does require an adjustment of wrist position for the non-control hand to maintain the proper blade angle. But it is pretty quickly picked up. As for bracing, adjusting the blade angle on the non-control side quickly becomes virtually instantaneous.

Maintaining an intermediate fixed grip with both hands works well for paddles with a relatively low degree of feather but not well for paddles feathered more than 60 degrees. Some paddlers also switch control hands with every stroke and that works too.

If that is how you paddle and it works for you, fine. Paddle your boat the way you want. But the method I describe works just fine.

to each his own
but I was told that one of the reasons for feather (or unfeather) angle was to avoid wrist-cocking, and the strain you put on your wrists when they’re simultaneously cocked backwards and stressed sideways (during a stroke).