flutter: paddle or paddler?

I used an Epic Active Touring paddle today. During one part of the paddle, there was a distinct flutter midway through the stroke. This was most apparent while paddling into the wind (with no feather). Is it the paddle of my technique or all of the above. I am new to paddling so my ignorance vastly exceeds my knowledge.

hard to say
i have an epic wayfarer, although i haven’t used it that much since i switched to a wing. going into the wind an unfeathered paddle will be pushed around more, so that certainly might have something to do with it. feathered gets pushed around in crosswinds- it’s a tradeoff. the epic has an excellent bite on the water, almost wing-like, but it requires fairly good and consistent technique. i would try working with the paddle and various paddle angles to find where it feels best. for me at least, a fairly high angle stroke with good torso rotation (wing-like) gives the best results with that paddle.


All of the above…
I’ve found the Epic touring paddles to be the least forgiving of any paddle I’ve used, a very narrow grove. I have and love the wing but can’t use the touring paddles.

I find the Werners to be very forgiving…

And check out ONNO… GH

I use a Epic Active Touring,
and I get a flutter when I am trying to get up to speed, such as at the beginning of a race or trying to paddle faster.

Once I am in a comfortable cadence I don’t get it.

My wife uses the same paddle only the twist-lock model, and she noticed the same.

I am still not sure weather it is us or the paddle.



I’m guessing it may be a little of both.
Only time I’ve experienced a flutter problem was with a narrow touring blade that I was overpowering. A friend of mine noticed the same thing (we were both working at a boat demo and had some time to do “product testing”). However, when we backed off to half strength or so, the paddle settled down nicely. I’m now considering buying the same paddle for my wife, she used it last season and liked it.

So, could be its partially the paddle, and partially the paddler.

Paddle Flutter
I’ve tried various Epic Paddles and found that they al flutter when you really put the power to them. The Werner to a much lessr extent and the ONNO has no flutter at all. I own a Werner kallista and 3 ONNO’s which I’m very fond of.

Epic flutter
My girlfriend has and Epic Wayfarer which I’ve borrowed from time to time. I find that it will flutter, especially when putting some power to it. I can eliminate the flutter by being careful to “spear” the paddle into the water on the catch. So, I guess I’d say it is not a real forgiving paddle in terms of tolerating much variability in the stroke. Now, my girlfriend never feels any flutter at all. But, she is half my size and probably doesn’t apply all that much power to it. She loves it… light, good control, etc. So, as always, different strokes (and paddles) for different folks.


paddle flutter

– Last Updated: Apr-08-04 2:26 PM EST –

Least flutter on any euro paddle I have used extensively: Whetstone absolutely. So sad they are gone.

smoothest entry and catch of any paddle I have ever used Epic active tourer full carbon.

The epic paddle does flutter if my technique gets sloppy. it is more forgiving that some though and I do like it. Must borrow an ONNO sometime to compare.

no flutter
Flutter is technically called alternating vortex shedding- of course, that doesn’t help you much.

Certain designs,such as large amounts of dihedral, can reduce this phenomonem, but like all things, it comes with a sacrifice. In this case, most design that reduces flutter also reduce drag, and drag is what gives purchase. This is why so many WW blades are relatively flat- to increase purchase (drag).

The exception is the wing paddle, which eliminates flutter and increases purchase.

Now for the juicy part.

If you emulate a wing paddle stroke, you will find that flutter disappears. The path of the paddle uniformly directs flow as the paddle starts to slip back.

Canoe racers, using very flat blades, do something similar- but instead of the paddle moving slightly away from the boat during the stroke, they push it deeper. Same result.

The worst paddle for flutter I have ever used was a GP. But when I used a wing style stroke, all the flutter disappeared, and I felt I got more purchase. Later, I found out that “proper” GP forward stroke was using a canted blade angle, giving the same result.

So, while it can be claimed that flutter is mostly technique, still, nothing terrible bad about using equipment that skips over learning technique.

Karl (who has yet to find a paddle that has any flutter)