longer or shorter paddle

This weekend I’m planning on goofing around a bit swimming out of my upside down Cobra Strike.

But there is, I guess, something like a 1 in 10 chance that I might somehow find myself righted again while still seated in the SOT.

Is such a spontaneous convulsion more likely when using a 195 or a 230 cm paddle?

Longer is always better
that’s just a global truism.

A longer paddle will get you just a bit more torque reaction against the hip-snap. Same reason an extended paddle roll is easier than a regular roll.

For me, shorter is better…
Long paddles (220-230cm) are more suited to a low angle paddling, which limits use of the bigger muscle groups, inhibits cadence, and makes it more difficult to get the paddle into position for vertical strokes such as bow rudders, sideslips, draws, etc. You’ll see long paddles used most frequently by recreational boaters for whom technique really isn’t a concern…they just arm-paddle and lily dip their way along anyhow.

Shorter paddles allow for a quicker cadence and a more vertical stroke, which enables full torso and shoulder rotation, as well as keeping the blades closer to the kayak (which helps prevent yawing…i.e., wagging the kayak from side-to-side while paddling).

Consider the fact that surf kayakers and whitewater kayaks use short paddles (191-195)…why? Speed of cadence is increased, which means quicker acceleration, and easier paddle placement in challenging conditions.

Sea kayak paddles have been getting shorter and shorter as well. 230cm used to be standard issue. Now, paddles like the Werner Ikelos are recommended at 210cm. I personally use a 205cm.

On rolling, if you’re relying on leverage from your paddle to roll (e.g., you can do an extended roll, but not a standard sweep or C to C), the you need to practice your hip snaps. The roll comes from the body, not the paddle.

–Mark Pecot

P&H Team Paddler

To Summarize…
If you have your ideal hip snap you can roll up with your hand. If you don’t have your ideal hip snap, longer is better.

Personally, I think most of us learn best by starting easy and gradually working toward more difficult.

BUT! if you have a shorter paddle you can extend it for an extended paddle roll in a pinch. If you have a longer paddle, you can’t really cut it off.

Anyways, it would be fun to see someone hand roll a SOT - does Dubside have it on his DVD?

thanks all
It isn’t often that a question seems to have a single answer.

Go with a shorter paddle
I use a 193 cm when surfing my strike. Faster RPMs, higher angle more power, does not get in the way.

If you need a longer paddle to right the boat, you just slide it up, but the blade in your hand and do the extended paddle roll.

You will have a lot more trouble paddling the strike straight with a long paddle.