Mitchell Premier WW Canoe Paddle?????


I am looking into getting one of these but am not sure whether to go with the all carbon model or the wood / carbon model with wood shaft.

I imagine the all carbon is lighter but I can’t find any specs to show how much.

Also have noticed that he specs I have seen show the carbon model to have a slightly smaller blade.

How do you find they compare in weight and catch? Does the wood add too much flex? Which do you prefer if you have one and why?



Call Mitchell and ask them. That’s
what I have done.

I doubt that any of their blades is pure carbon. Probably carbon facing over thin wood slats. Very strong and easier to repair than pure carbon (like Werner uses).

I know what I like
I’ve got the wood shaft carbon blade Premier. It is carbon over wood and only slightly lighter and stiffer than the glass over wood blade.

IMO either of those, is a nice, well balanced, rugged paddle. They are not light like a Zav but they are not heavy beasts like the old Norse sticks either. They are nearly as tough as the Norse.

I looked at one of the carbon shaft carbon blade Premiers. That was a carbon shaft with a carbon over wood blade. The blade looked the same as mine. The paddle was lighter but it felt blade heavy to me. I did not get the chance to paddle with it.

I think if I was considering an all carbon whitewater stick I’d go with the Werner carbon Bandit. That seems better balanced and lighter than the carbon shafted Mitchel I looked at.

That said I’m quite comfortable having my wood shaft, carbon over wood blade Premier as my only paddle. No room for a spare in the C1. I trust that stick to get me home.

I would not be comfortable with any all carbon stick and no spare.

If you are trying to decide which build you would do well to talk to the folks at Mitchel. There’s a lot of knowlege and pride in what they make up there in Cannan.

As I’ve counseled previously, carbon
shaft paddles are likely to be more susceptible to unexpected failure because of nicks to the carbon matrix that aren’t noticed and repaired in time. If ordering a carbon shaft paddle, ask Mitchell (or similar providers) to put an 18" vinyl sleeve on the shaft. It adds little weight but provides considerable protection against nicks or abrasion. Neither of my carbon shaft paddles (Mitchell and Clinch River) has failed in a dozen years of hard use.

Wood shaft paddles can fail, usually because of a hidden gap or flaw in the wood chosen by the builder for lamination. Surface nicks or abrasion are usually not contributing causes.

I’ve always found curved blade paddles to have a good catch, and as designed by Mitchell or Clinch River, to have fairly neutral behavior during compound strokes. Curved blade paddles are universal in whitewater slalom. But I have owned or made some wonderful non-curved paddles.

Fiberglass sheathing
Ask Peter (Mitchell that is) to wrap the paddle shaft with a fiberlass sheather. He uses an extremely fine fg scrim that when resined becomes transparent. Increases the abrasion resistance tremendousely as I’ve found over the years of happily and sometimes carelessly using my Black Magic kayak paddle. Weight addition will be negligible.

Go call Peter. It’s -2 degrees at his place today, I’m sure he won’t mind talking paddling. :slight_smile:

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Thanks, but there are two reasons
I would not want FG sheathing on my paddle. First, the vinyl sleeve works quite well. Second, after having “good hands” through years of rowing, sculling, and paddling, two years ago I began having thickened, cracking skin on both hands, pretty much in the areas where my hands were contacting worn areas on a paddle sheathed with cloth and resin. The cloth may have been diolen, but you will understand why I don’t think FG is a better option.

I’ve sheathed several wood shaft paddles with FG. I’m sure I didn’t do as nice a job as Mitchell. Now I will need to make sure that the shafts don’t wear down into the sheathing.

If I remember correctly, Peter puts down the FG scrim on the bare wood, resin and then when cured the several coats of polyeurethane over top.

If you’ve had good experience with something else go with it. I haven’t seen an issue with the described techenique over too many miles to count.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Happy 2010!

Guess we’re talking about two different
things. I’m referring to the advisability of a vinyl sheath over a carbon shaft. My Mitchell is maybe 14 years old and the sheath is still in good shape. Same for my carbon shaft Clinch River, not quite as old. I bought another Clinch River at a fundraiser auction, and that’s the one where the sheath over the wood shaft eventually wore through.

NOC still sells carbon shaft Mitchell paddles, but for some reason theirs do not come with a vinyl sheath, which is in my view asking for premature paddle breakage.

The Mitchells are great folks. My Mitchell was also bought at an NOC fundraiser auction, and it was too short, so I was directed to call Mitchell and send it back for an exchange. They quickly complied, but got crossed up on my request. I got a carbon-shaft paddle with a flat blade. So, I called back, sent it back, and they cheerfully sent what I wanted.

Fwiw…Agree with TommyC1…I had the Mitchell Premier in all wood decades ago. Think a carbon blade would’ve worked better, however the wood shaft was the burliest ever. Think the (large wooden blade + FG + nice edges(rope&metal)) make for the heaviest part of the paddle…


I bought a Mitchell paddle…
…and they custom made the length, loom, etc (GP) for me. Yvonne Mitchell ansers the phone and will give you Peter if he’s not out ading wood to the fireplace or something. Well worth your call. Paddling perks members get a discount, and if you order three paddles, there’s even more discount. Make sure you mention Pnet. Great paddles.

Are you a competive slalom racer?

– Last Updated: Jan-02-10 2:34 AM EST –

If so and you want Mitchell, which has always been my preference, go carbon shaft and carbon over cedar curved blade. It will cut a second off your slalom time.

If you're a cruiser, or value wood, or don't care about the ultimate in light weight, get a wood shaft or even (antediluvian gasp!) an all wood Premiere. I have four all wood Premieres of different Mitchell eras, one of which is curved. Not one of them has ever suffered any damage other than normal wear and tear, which is easily fix-uppable.

I wouldn't go all carbon for WW cruising for lots of reasons: cost, ugliness, higher probability of breakage, and the unpleasantness of an inflexible shaft. I like a little flex, wood is aesthetic, and the few ounces of weight savings are unimportant to me as a WW cruiser. It's not like you are doing a high volume of repetitive forward strokes when river running as you are in a FW race, where an uber-light carbon ZRE makes sense.

The average shaft circumference of my all wood Mitchell Premiere is 3.75", which is less than most of my flat water shafts. They are not klutzy to me.

Frankly, I think carbon paddles for other than racing applications are bought in large part for trendiness, vanity, marketing pressure and peer pressure reasons -- more so than function and aesthetics. And I recommend some honest soul searching on this point for anyone considering all carbon.

After due soul searching, you may of course still want carbon ... just because you do ... in which event you may want to consider the ZRE Power Curve. It at least has a wooden T grip and you can get it with a carbon flex shaft.

Ok I think I am sold on at least the wood shaft. would even consider an all wood paddle. Would be curious the difference in weight.

Guess that then begs question of curved blade or not.

Frankly I think that the wood / carbon with curved blade sounds like it may offer best balance of good catch, light weight, durability and feel.


I agree about the advice on getting

– Last Updated: Dec-31-09 12:41 PM EST –

a wood shaft, but after "aging" from c-1 into OC-1 over the past ten years, I've been using my carbon shaft Mitchell and Clinch River (both vinyl-sleeved) without any problem, crashing around unfamiliar, rocky rivers, and haven't had a problem. The lightness is an asset for crossing strokes.

Oh, and about the myth of carbon shafts being inflexible, my Mitchell is quite flexible, my Clinch River is flexible, but my wood shaft, plate construction Clinch River is STIFF... as stiff as my Norse paddles.

Tell Mitchell that you want a paddle that is somewhat flexible, with the flexibility distributed evenly between the shaft and the blade, and you will get what you want.

Flexibility, curved face
I was not aware that the Mitchell carbon shaft can be made more or less flexible. That might affect my decision. I was basing my impressions on a ZRE I returned for a flex shaft version because I didn’t like the rigidity of the regular shaft and also on a rigid carbon shaft kayak paddle I have from Sweden.

Racers in WW or FW, of course, would want shaft rigidity because it more efficiently conducts force.

Curved blade is an interesting question. It holds water better, so you can get a more powerful forward stroke, which can be helpful when you want to accelerate in WW. It also grabs a little better better on eddy turns and peel outs. It is a little weaker on a low brace and a little more difficult to get used to on the in-water return of the cross forward stroke – but these negatives are relatively minor.

If you want to use the paddle in FW and do palm rolls, a curved blade wouldn’t be advisable. But most people don’t do this, at least with their WW paddles.

Hey, you need a quality back up paddle when running the Niagara Gorge. So I would get two Mitchells. One all wood with a flat blade and one with a curved carbon blade. (It’s easy to spend other people’s money.)

Well, I got into slalom paddles for
"citizen" slalom racing, and I don’t like absolute shaft stiffness because it can elicit unexpected flutter. The matched flexibility of the Mitchell shaft and blade, combined with a slight “trail” of the curved blade (not present in my Clinch River) paddles, has meant no flutter even when I don’t set the catch right. It probably provides a slight bent shaft effect.

I certainly have heard people complaining about carbon shaft Mitchell paddles being too stiff. I can’t say anything about that except, talk to Mitchell in advance and see what they can do.