left-right feathering angle on paddle

I am new to paddling-my wife asked me a million dollar question.On our Werner Shuna paddle you can feather paddle to left or right angle,what is the reasoning behind this? Ian

Whether left or right handed

– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 12:19 PM EST –

A left handed person (OK - sometimes) has a tough time working with a right-handed feather, and vice versa. In real old school, even lefties were often forced to learn to paddle with a right-handed person's feather. (I have run into coaches for whom) It was eventually found out that lefties had a lot easier time starting out on the opposite feather as a right handed person.
Or you can skip the feathering entirely...

Right hand control
vs left hand control. Those are the terms for it.

When you are paddling you tend to grasp the paddle and turn it with one hand and let it turn in the other. The hand that you grasp and turn it with is the control hand (R or L).

here is a tip (up for debate)
if you have never kayaked before your body doesn’t know what ‘right handed’ or ‘left handed’ means as it relates to kayaking. Basically, you have no skill to compare it to so your body can’t start building on its previous experiences.

Basically the Shuna lets you set the paddle to a wide range of blade angles. That way anyone can by the paddle and they aren’t excluded from buy one because they paddle ‘left handed’.

Control hand and feathering
Most two piece paddles allow at least two feather positions. Some allow nearly infinite. An increasing number of paddlers with whom I intersect are no longer feathering their paddles.

Feathering has been discussed often here. The current thread is: http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=845107#845303

left-right feathering angle on paddle
Ok-that makes sense to me now.Thanks for replies,Ian

Reason for feathering
is to reduce suceptability to wind, the blade that is in the air will be more or less horizontal.

It wasn’t clear if this was was what you were asking.


Celia Huh ?
How far back are you talking ? Are you sure you are not mixing paddles and scissors up : )

I have never heard of this and honestly do not believe there is ANY correlation between handedness in feather preference. I do not build anywhere near the # of paddles in LHC as there are leftys in the population.

As a lefty I almost hate to say this … but unless a person has already decided they are LHC, I usually mention to folks to try both but lean towards right since most of the paddles out there are RHC if not both. This way if they ever have to borrow, rent or purchase from a limited supply it will not take a big toll on what they are used to.

Left Handed experience
I am left handed. When I bought my first paddle, I was taught to feather it accordingly. I subsequently paddled with left handed feathering for some years.

I encountered coaches who told me that they always taught right hand control - unfortunately it was after I had grown accustomed to left hand feather. It did seem to slow down my learning to roll…

In any case, I have paddled unfeathered for a few years.

Many of us, if not most
paddle unfeathered.


This might be worth repeating
I have said this before and I feel like I should say it again…

If someone has never paddled before they don’t know if a paddle is ‘right’ or ‘left’ handed. They only know that because they were told it was so. A complete beginner has no previous experience or knowledge and there for does not have a previous skill to build on.

The only reason I can think of lefties having problems is that everything would be modeled by a righty. Any lefty modeling would probably be done by a righty faking it.

Left is not so easy to define
It is very easy to say that a left handed person coming to paddling for the first time can paddle right feathered paddles. But it is not so. My experience is that I cannot–from the first–paddle well with a right hand feather. My teacher insisted I could. Some people like me are blessed with severe left handedness. I have trouble picking up my glass of scotch with my right hand. Hence for me it is imperative that I feather left handed.

Do whatever feels right

– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 10:43 AM EST –

FOR YOU, regardless of the coach. Doesn't matter, noone cares, and so long as you can paddle and combat roll NOONE gives a damn which hand you control with or what feather angle, if any you employ. Paddle on!

I agree salty (NM)

so long as you can paddle & combat roll

Whoa Hermiting … I guess now that I
think about it …

But never even thought of severe lefthandedness 'till just this moment.

That could be a hiccup moment dealing with many of the commonly engineered things in life.


– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 12:16 PM EST –

I'm glad Hermiting weighted in - and he and my husband aren't the only two people I've encountered for whom the side mattered. I can sympathize, I am very much right-sided and anything left requires constant reinforcement.

In a forward stroke, staying upright, it may wash out for most. But even that may be argued - I am right-handed and naturally more flexible on one side than the other because of that bias. It affects how I use my body for lifting etc. So when you get to the part of the stroke past the hand, it may still be a better idea to respect that.

In any case, if someone wants to advance their skills they will end up trying to roll and do braces, and there the feather gets noticed.

As to whether it is fluff - for some it isn't. And since so many paddles now have the length lock type arrangement that can feather either way, I don't see why it is necessary to force paddlers into one-size-fits-all. I feel like I am seeing more attention to lefties from coaches, paddle makers etc.

And Onno about your sales... there is still some tendency for lefties to be pushed into a right-handed mode. It's probably for the same reason you mention - the likely availability of left feather paddles. So I am sure that you are selling fewer left paddles than the lefties out there. But the amount of feather seems to be lessening and the availability of left feather is increasing, so that may gradually even out.

That’s easy…
Do your body a favor and don’t feather at all. Don’t think that you have to feather because it’s the “correct way to paddle” or because all “real kayakers” feather their paddles.

One of the main reasons that people still use feathered paddles is that they’ve been doing it for years. If they try anything different, it doesn’t feel right to them. They were taught to paddle with feathered paddles and that it was the proper way to paddle. In my biomechanically biased opinion, feathering doesn’t agree with the body and it’s not the best way to paddle. Feathering angles keep decreasing and more paddlers are going unfeathered, there’s a reason why.

Good luck,

Pedro Almeida

again the research I found…

“This information demonstrates that while differences in bilateral comparison between

limbs in flatwater kayakers have been shown, no difference was found in this set of expert

whitewater kayakers while paddling on a kayak ergometer.”

Here is the abstract with a link to the article at the bottom.


The paper is recent but it does use terms and definitions which I think many would agree are outdated.

maybe in New Jersey

– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 3:45 PM EST –

but most of the paddlers I know who have more than a year experience feather their paddles--