OC1 Paddle length question

I’m thinking about a new WW stick. Right now I have Werner Rec/Point paddles in 56" and 58" lengths. Despite my 6"2" frame, I always seem to reach for the 56" stick. It just seems comfortable. But, comfortable isn’t always best and sometimes it’s just plain lazy.

I was a little surprised this past spring when I paddled with TommyC1 and he was using a 60" (I think) Mitchell despite being an inch or so shorter.

So, am I being kind of lazy with a 56" paddle? If so, I want to break myself of it.

Also, I don’t have a roll but would really like to get at least a half-assed one in the next year or two. I’m guessing a longer paddle make rolling a little easier.

I’m 6’ 5" with a long torso for my

– Last Updated: Oct-21-07 1:33 PM EST –

height. I use 61 to 62 inch paddles, even when kneeling very low in my c-1s. Jon Lugbill and Davey Hearn, well under 6', used 58 to 60 inch paddles. In all cases these are slalom paddles with short curved blades.

It is a matter of style. If you sit up comfortably and don't use cross strokes much, you may be ok with a somewhat shorter paddle. If you tend to lean forward when paddling hard in whitewater, and if you use not only cross draws, but cross forward strokes ("Perking"), and cross sweep strokes, then you are going to prefer a longer paddle.

Long slalom paddles are no impediment whatsoever once you are used to them. Slalom style is the most effective and efficient way to move around whitewater, and for that style, long paddles are quite easy to get used to. But for general whitewater cruising, shorter paddles are fine if they feel best for you.

Click on this link and check the pictures.


If the "Looks Slow Even Sitting Still" photo isn't enlarged, click on it. Now, does that paddle look long at all? Yet it is 61.5" with a short blade.

How tall are you sitting down?

– Last Updated: Oct-21-07 4:25 PM EST –

My Mitchel is a 58" which is fairly long. I am 5'9" but my legs are short and my torso long so that stick works pretty well for open boating with a 9" saddle.
The saddles in my C1's are a few inches lower. With the 58", in shallow water, I find my top hand is too high to be comfortable. I have a 54" that is OK for that But I'm thinking I'd like a 56" for C1.
IMO your height in the saddle (or seat) is what determines your paddle length.

And yes I can roll better with a longer stick but that's just because my technique stinks and I tend to power up on the blade rather than rolling the hull under me. That's why my roll fails me in aerated water and why my shoulders get tweaked.
I sure wouldn't recommend going to a longer stick for rolling.

I went to a little wider blade for
rolling and bracing, but I agree that using a longer-than-comfortable paddle just for rolling is a mistake.

I’m 6"4"
I’m 6’4" tall & use a 58 inch Werner Bandit paddle. I’m sitting on a factory installed pedestal in a Mohawk Probe 12 II.

I don’t like a paddle longer than 58 inch because it seems like a hassle(to me)getting over the bow decking to do a cross draw or a cross forward stroke with a longer paddle.

While a longer paddle might help you with rolling because of additional leverage;

if you “need” a longer paddle to roll, you’re probably not using effective technique.

I haven’t got my roll perfected by any means, but nobody I’ve worked with focused on the need for a long paddle for leverage, or using the maximum amount of muscle at your diposal.

Correct body position in the set up, an effective hip snap,keeping your head low, and dragging your nose across the gunwale & over the center of the air bags will do a lot more to perfect your roll than a monster paddle with a humongous blade.

Every time I’m successful in my roll it’s because of technique.

Others opinions may vary.


thanks all for the input
I guess I can lay to rest the thought that I may be using the 56" because I’m being lazy. I’ve long suspected that my ideal would be halfway between the 56" and 58".

I do a fair bit of cross forwards and as others have suggested, that’s where a longer paddle becomes more work to manage.

Thanks again.

see if you can borrow a longer one
I’m 5’10" and learned using a 56. Tried a 58 and immediately realized the 56 had been too short.

The grip-at-eye-level is a pretty good indicator, at least for me.

Try posting over on cboats.net to see if anyone in your part of PA has some paddles you could try.

I’ve got a 58" Werner Bandit you may try next time we meet up.

A longer paddle gets more done on
crossing strokes. There is a degree of shortness that works fine for paddling on one’s “on” side, but that will not work at all for crossing strokes.

Usually the problem with crossing strokes is not the length of the paddle, but the weight. With a light paddle, an inch or two of additonal weight is no issue at all.