I currently paddle a 205 Werner Ikelos and 205 Werner Cyprus, foam core high angle paddles with bent shafts. I am 5’8 and paddle a 21 inch wide boat.
I am wondering if I may perhaps be better suited with a low angle style paddle like the Kalliste and Athena, but don’t have anywhere nearby where I can demo them.
I believe my stroke is somewhat between a true high ange and true low angle stroke. I generally paddle with my top hand between eye and shoulder level. My understanding is that a true high angle stroke for which these paddles are optimized is one with the top hand at or above eye level.
What do you think? Is my stroke more suited to a low angle style paddle? If so and I make the switch would I be better served by a different length paddle?
What might be some of the other pros and cons of the different blade designs? Seems that the high angle blades offer great bracing, rolling and acceleration, but may be somewhat harder at doing bow rudders and side slips than a longer and narrower blade might be but that is just a guess.
I know this choice is subjective and the best way to tell is to demo, but in the absence of having this opportunity right now please provide me with whatever input you can.
I am comfortable at the mid angle
you describe and also of similar size. I find the Ikelos too much paddle for my tired old bones (shoulders). I have settled in with a 215 Cyprus straight shaft. It works well for me. YMMV. I alternate between this paddle and a low angle ~220cm GP for long day trips.
I think your paddles are fine
Well, maybe not - want to sell them?-)
I think your stroke sounds high enough.
I can’t see any advantage to a “low angle paddle” for those fancy-pants BCU strokes. You don’t need to reach way out for a bow or stern rudder. See Nigel Foster’s videos for example. I think there was also a Sea Kayaker article a while back on using a “high” stern rudder.
What do you do for a living? Just curious.
An Army Officer…but make good use of ebay etc. so selling my two current paddles and getting two new ones would result in very little money out of pocket. I assume that’s what you were getting at.
As far as the stroke etc…the only reason I ask is because I took a BCU assessment a couple of weeks ago and both three instructors all commented that “I would benefit from a higher angle stroke” with the paddle I was using.
I did not like paddling any higher than I already was (which is really about shoulder level) so it made me think that perhaps I am not using the optimal paddle for my stroke.
I know this may be splitting hairs here but I am pretty much a perfectionist and pretty anally retentive as you may have noticed from my many other posts / questions. I am very much interested in cotinuing to improve my skills etc. and likewise am interested in having the optimal kit that will help me to do this and from which I can get the best performance overall.
Paddle to please…
…yourself. Sounds like the paddle shaft is plenty high in it’s angle relative to the water. If you’re getting good torso rotation and your happy with the feel of the paddle in the water, then it’s all good. If you feel like splitting hairs then go paddle an extra mile on your trip, you’ll feel better.
See you on the water,
Hyde Park, NY
Hi Matt, There’s no right and wrong in this story, and the story itself may be be interfering with your enjoyment of paddling, I don’t know. I paddled a Kalliste for a around a year, then went to an AT Xception, which for me was as close to heaven as one can get in a Euro paddle. The AT can easily go from high angle stroke for sprinting to a stroke that looks like a GP, and unlike the Ikelos it is very easy on the body and also forgiving. I’ve padded and Ikelos on flat water and in surf just to try it out–and didn’t like it. Hard on the shoulders, and more leverage, more power yeilds more opportunity for misapplied power, e.g. it ain’t forgiving in the least. The Kalliste is somewhere in the middle. Biggest thing I remember is how it is easy to make it flutter if you overpower it–not a problem for the AT. For the past three years, I’ve paddled a GP exclusively, and can’t imagine going back. No instructor can tell you what’s right for you, but your body can if you’ll listen to it rather than to a story yours or someone elses about what’s best. John
Look at the Werner Shuna. Most of us are a mixture of high and low angle paddling.Some days we just slap the water. I have a Shuna and like it. Vaughn Fulton
These seem to be more forgiving of various paddle angles for me
Hey Matt, which assessment?
In reference to the question above…it was the 4 star assessment…took it with Nigel Dennis. He was one of the ones who commented on my stroke / paddle choice.
would be best suited to decide what style you prefer. Post a video clip, people will be happy to comment.
Very cool, did you pass?
Hey Matt, why don’t you call me sometime
I did pass. It was pretty cool having Nigel as an assessor. Got to paddle with him all day long, and there were only three of us taking the assessment. I learned a lot from him on the water as well. He has a wealth of knowledge.
He’s a great guy, on or off the water.
Congratulations on passing the 4*. Now you can take 5*! Fun stuff. I guess I should be calling you Sir.
I think the 5 star training sounds awesome. I plan to attend more of the symposiums and would like to so the 5 star training. Sounds like it’s a bit different every place you take it. Sounds like it would be great to take even if you never have any aspirations of taking the assessment.
Somehow, after taking the …
training, I’m sure you would do the assessment. It’s all about having fun. You might consider another venue in north America or the UK, just so you can see different water. For what it’s worth, anyway.
ok new suggestion
Don’t sell your old paddles yet. Buy a lower angle paddle and then after a while sell the one you don’t like. It’s probably easier to pick up a “low angle” paddle used.
not to put words in his mouth but I am surprised Nigel didn’t suggest a 200cm paddle. He uses a 197cm as a spare paddle. I am 6’1" and used a 205 small shaft Cyprus the other day and was really impressed. I definitely want to downsize from my 215. Nigel also told me that he believes using a longer paddle causes a lot of stress on shoulders and wrists. I don’t know if it universally true, but I had wrists problems until I switched to a shorter paddle.
having said that, if you are a mid-angle paddler definitely consider AT. I used a 220cm AT with over-size blades and really loved that paddle as well.