Paddle flutter

I am noticing that during high angle stroke my paddle blades tend to make this fluttering motion in the water as I pull the paddle back. Like a gentle sculling draw kind of thing. I do seem to submerge blades fully and pull gently but steadily. Not a huge deal but seems wrong.
I am 5’6" about 160 lb, my boat is 23" wide. My paddle is about 215 cm. It used to be quite a bit longer originally, but I shortened it to 215 by cutting down the shaft equally of both ends and re-securing the blades. Everything is solid, no play at the blades or ferulle.
Is there anything I can do to help the situation? I wonder if my paddle is still too long maybe?

Flutter is more about technique than equipment, although 215 does seem a bit long for you (I’m 6’0" and use a 210cm Cyprus).

Try not gripping the shaft too tightly, try pushing as much with your upper hand as pulling with your lower one, try watching every YouTube you can find on forward paddling technique, especially anything by Greg Barton or Greg Stamer.

My grip is pretty relaxed, but maybe I am not pushing enough with my air hand. Quite possible, thanks.

Euro paddle or GP? If GP, flutter is common and fixed through slightly canting the blade in the water (so blade is not perfectly vertical).

Euro. Ok, I will give it a try, thanks

Is this a relatively large blade? Mostly flat, rather than dihedral, perhaps? If it’s a function of the size and design, improved technique isn’t going to do much to fix it. A smaller paddle with more dihedral should help, regardless of whether it’s a technique or paddle issue.

You might also be putting too much power into it, especially if this is only happening when you accelerate from slow or stand-still to cruising speed. Also with a loaded kayak, your strokes need to be weaker and slower to get it up to speed before you can really start putting energy into the stroke.

It’s Aqua-Bound Seaquel, which looks like a pretty standard asymmetrical blade kayak paddle. The only unusual thing about it is that it was originally longer, 230 cm or so. The guy I got it from is 6 feet tall. I shortened it by cutting the shaft equally on each end at the blade ends. I am wondering if blades on longer paddles are a bit larger.
The flutter occurs during normal padding and I make a point not to pull it hard, but rather go at a comfortable sustainable pace with a relaxed grip. The instructor over the course I took this weekend seemed happy with my forward stroke.
If I accelerate with more power the flutter is more pronounced.

The Seaquel is said to be 40 oz and have “full size” blades. So, I suspect it’s probably larger than you really want, and considerably heavier. If you aren’t willing/able to spend the money on a great paddle, you can work on adjusting your stroke to minimize the flutter, but if it were me I’d just try to find a better suited paddle.

Try a high end light weight low surface area carbon fibre paddle. But be warned: it will be expensive, and you won’t go back to anything else. My Euro paddles are both Nimbus Kiska, one Fibreglass blades and the other Carbon Basault. I’ve used a Werner Lil Dipper before, and this is similar to the Kiska in weight and design, while being easier to pick up at a local shop. The specs say the Lil Dipper is 27.5 oz. Weight makes a huge difference if you’re doing any sort of serious paddling.

You could also try a Greenland Paddle for much less money (especially if you make it yourself), but you’ll also need to learn how to paddle with it. If you try to paddle a GP with a Euro technique, you’ll be very unhappy with the results.

I am generally not opposed to getting a high end paddle, but I am out of budget for now.
I am very interested in GP and have a carving project on a slow burner, so hopefully over the next month or two my wood working skills will allow me to complete that project. Somehow GP seems very appealing.

This should get you started. It’s what I used for the three I’ve made so far.

Thanks, that’s what I am using currently.

In my estimation, flutter is caused by oscillation of the flow separation line on the paddle face. The separation line is the dividing line between the flow that goes around either edge of the paddle. If the line moves around, the varying amounts of fluid going around either edge alter the pressure distribution on the blade face, which results in blade flutter. Pulling a long flat board through water briskly demonstrates the effect clearly.

A blade with some dihedral will have a spine down the paddle face, and the separation line tends to become anchored there, and so flutter is inhibited. GPs tend to flutter if used in ‘Euro mode’ because, although the blade ‘face’ is convex, it’s fairly flat hydrodynamically and allows the separation line to wander. By canting the GP, you create directional flow that pushes most of the flow over just one edge, removing the tendency to flutter. Canting essentially moves the separation line to one edge of the paddle (or close to it) and anchors it there.

The same directional flow over the lenticular cross section of a GP also creates some lift, which aids propulsion. A wing paddle is designed specifically to accentuate this effect, using efficient airfoil sections to increase the lift. Interestingly, Euro paddles can be used canted and will also generate some lifting force, and it should also reduce flutter while paddling hard. I’ve experienced this effect very clearly on my AT carbon Euro paddle - why not give it a try and see if it helps.

^ thanks.
Let me understand this properly, in order to achieve this I need to rotate the shaft forward a bit so the top of the blade is slightly towards the bow?

That’s a good way if you’re trying to dive the paddle and maybe take a swim.

You can apply as much power as you like with any reasonable paddle. I agree that it’s all technique.
I can induce flutter by trying to move my paddle through the water by pulling it straight back. Carldelo has a nice description of what’s happening above.
The thing with forward stroke technique is that if you’re using a higher angle stroke, and rotation instead of arm pulling, picture what your paddle will do. Let’s go with a stroke with your right hand. You plant the blade right next to your kayak clear forward.
I suggest doing this in your chair as you read this, and then transfer it to your kayak, as it’s easier if you take all the wobbly out from underneath of you to first get the concept.
So your position is this. Right arm straight, blade fully planted next to the kayak, left leg straight, left hip pushed back by your straightened left leg. Right leg bent, right hip forward. Your back is facing the water on the right side, where your blade is planted.
So this is your starting planted position for a right-hand stroke.
Here’s what you do to induce flutter. Pull straight back with your right arm, bending your elbow, alongside your kayak. No lateral movement of the paddle. Just a nice arm pull straight back. You don’t even need a good setup starting position to do this. You can just sit square in your kayak, plant the blade, and pull it straight back.

So back to your starting planted position. This time, leave your right arm just as it is. Don’t bend your right elbow. Don’t do anything with your right arm. Let’s start focus on your legs and hips.

Left leg is extended. Left hip back. Right leg is bent. Right hip forward. Back is facing water on the right side of kayak.
Start with relaxing your left leg and hip, and straightening your right leg. Allow your right hip to push back, and your left hip to slip forward. Your left leg will now be bent. At the same time, your back twists from being towards the right side of your kayak, to being toward the left side of your kayak.

Now, what did your shoulders do? At your starting planted position for a right-hand stroke, your shoulders were squared towards the left side of your kayak. After this full rotation, your shoulders are now squared towards the right side of your kayak.

After you rotate over to the right side, without moving your arm in relation to your shoulder, your blade will have moved from right next to your bow, to back by your hip. It will not remain right next to your kayak. The blade slices away from your kayak as your pull your kayak past your planted blade.

This lateral movement of the blade as you rotate and move your boat past the planted blade, will prevent any flutter. You will eventually find that you have to give some considerable attention to find a sweet-spot where you can get a paddle to flutter.

You don’t have to be perfect with your forward stroke. You just have to have some lateral movement of your blade - some subtle slice away from your hull as you rotate - some elimination of arm paddling. So hopefully this flutter thing will help you to hone in forward stroke mechanics. A nice silver lining.

I hope this helps.

@CapeFear thanks, that was very helpful!

CapeFear is exactly right. A good paddle may reveal bad technique. In that case, the cure is not to replace the paddle, but to pay more attention to technique.

I recently experienced this myself when I bought a Werner Ikelos instead of my old Werner Shuna. I thought that I had a rather good body rotation and actually did rather well with the Shuna. But the Ikelos vibrated excessively in the water and had no bite. Then I watched those paddling technique videos once again, corrected some of my errors, and suddenly the Ikelos was stable in the water. (No, not suddenly - it took me some months to get sufficiently rid of my errors.)

I like Cape Fear’s description - the lateral motion of the paddle has the same effect as a canted paddle face, imposing flow across the paddle face to shift the separation line and reduce flutter. It also increase lifting forces.

Per Magooch’s statement, canting the paddle to get a lifting force (really a thrust) in the direction of motion will also create a force component pointed downwards, which creates a capsizing moment. This is clearly felt when using a GP, and I have felt it while using a Euro canted. You just have to be braced in the cockpit properly and know it’s going to happen so it doesn’t pull you over unexpectedly. The paddler resisting the natural diving tendency of a paddle in lifting mode is what transfers the thrust from the paddle to the boat.

Never had problem with ikelos fluttering. Should have a my new corryvreckan Monday which many have said flutters. We’ll see soon. Also gave a shuna but it seems small but no flutter either.

@PaddleDog52 said:
Never had problem with ikelos fluttering.
Then you are not doing it wrong enough!