Paddle length - another question

-- Last Updated: Apr-28-09 9:08 AM EST --

After several years of paddling almost exclusively with a carbon Greenland paddle, I want to obtain a quality Euro and use both just from an all-around skills desire(my first kayak paddle was a mid-Swift 220). I paddled this weekend with both the 210 and 215 straight shaft Werner Cyprus paddles. Nice paddle! The Werner website suggests 210 for my size. The 215 seemed more natural too me, the 210 felt short with a high angle. Can't explain why it felt short as it was certainly in the water fine. Probably due to my comfort with a GP and previous very long Euro, thus some re-comfort with a Euro may be required. At 5-7 and paddling an Aquanaut LV composite, how best to decide on which paddle length?

You and I have some things in
common. I’m 5’9" and paddle a roto Naut LV. I also use a GP quite often. My Euro paddle is an Ikelos 210 cm which is almost exactly the same length as my GP.

I can’t recommend how you can decide on the proper length. All I can offer is that my dealer would not sell me a 215 cm Ikelos; he insisted on the 210. For me, this was a good recommendation as I am very comfortable with it using primarily a high-angle stroke.

Good luck. I hope you’re happy with your selection.

3 keys

– Last Updated: Apr-28-09 10:17 AM EST –

Not answers but considerations for you and folks here to answer that might shed light on it.

1. Forget the rules of thumb. Each of us is unique, and it must fit us and our boat combo too! The combination of your torso height, arm length, height of your seat in the boat, width of your boat all make for an interaction that determines how far is your paddle from the water at the entry point of the stroke. That is what matters.

2. Whether you rotate your torso matters regarding right length of paddle also. If you do actually rotate you will need a longer length paddle, as the entry point shifts forward but your body only rotates and does not lean or shift forward.

3. You only need a paddle as long as is necessary for the tasks that require it to be a certain length. Otherwise, the MAIN priority is forward stroke efficiency. Having a paddle that is just long enough to wind up and rotate and have the top of the blade just under the surface at entry point allows you to have a mid angle stroke where the blade stays close to the boat and vertical for the longest amount of the stroke, a dramatic energy savings.

Bracing, rolling, and sculling are all enhanced by having not too long a paddle length. Yes, if too short a paddle you will have a hard time reaching for these strokes.

Perhaps the only caveat I would share is that although I aspire to being in shape to be able to utilize the higher efficiency high angle stroke, in reality I know that most of the time I drop down to mid angle with torso roatation, and if tired mid to low angle. So, for this reason I have BOTH a 215 and a 210 set of paddles. I start with the 210 and it feels perfect. But for really long paddles I like switching to the 215 later on.

I am assuming you are talking about straight shaft not bent shaft paddles. I find that my 215 bent shaft paddles like a 212 straight shaft paddle.

I am experiencing something this season I have not before. I rowed all winter on a Concept 2 rowing machine and have more umph to start this season. So I am finding that the more I rotate and use my whole body the stronger my whole body is getting. Last time out together I never went to the longer paddle.

This is great, for now I will be able to take out my 210 and my GP instead!

Tideplay, that is one nice benefit of a Greenland paddle, you can use it high angle, mid angle, or low angle without concern if it is a low or high angle blade design or what the length is. To me, it’s challenging to go to a Euro paddle website (like Werner) and having to commit to one style-high or low, in choosing a paddle (Kalliste vs Cyprus). In theory, one could have 3 or 4 paddles all stowed on deck.

oh great!!!
and now you have me thinking about that darned take apart GP thing again! Oh my god, is there no hope for me! OK, I love this stuff. And, maybe Alan has found a two piece solution for the GP by now.


– Last Updated: Apr-28-09 11:16 AM EST –

or yet another paddle to learn to use! Alan is finishing up a storm paddle for me! I used his on the Hudson 2 weeks ago and seemed to grasp the sliding stroke quickly. Not sure how long one can do the sliding stroke though on a full day outing. So I will be switching between a regular GP, storm GP, and perhaps a new Euro. How the heck do you keep all this straight and not inefficiently use a good technique on a wrong paddle? What if I start using a sliding stroke on a Euro, instant capsize?

Get an adjustable paddle within the range you would feel comfortable with. 210-220 etc. Then you could set it at 213 or whatever you like.

sliding stroke
seriously, the Brits use a sliding stroke all the time for many purposes.

check out this website. It has a fantastic video clip series of forward stroke and directional strokes.

There are several using the sliding stroke. Totally fascinating.

From the book called Sea Kayak Handling

#2 is not right

– Last Updated: Apr-28-09 2:56 PM EST –

Or I'm reading iot wrong. The bit about needing a longer paddle to rotate isn't right.

After catch close to the kayak - IF you are rotating - your torso unwinds toward the side and arms hold pretty much same position through stroke - distance of blade from body at catch/beginning of stroke remains fairly constants so the paddle automatically ends up out to the side a bit.

Right length is right length. Not enough makes you reach (maybe the leaning you were talking about?) and strokes too short. Too much makes for too long of a stroke with a sloppy catch and release and wasted energy pushing water up and down (much more common problem). In general - going shorter (correctly, not too short) will IMPROVE rotation with EP and wing.

yep that is it
yes that is what i meant

I’ve been using a 205 Cyprus for almost three years and, if any thing, it’s made my rotation better, and I’m 5’5" and paddle a RomanyLV. I’ve also been told I could go down to a 200.

My understanding is that rotation is rotation, but perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by various forward stroke specialists.

I second this post.
Most of us never keep the same length that we start with, so why not get an adjustable one with a 10 cm spread.



one thing leads to another
it is not easy to know what is cause and what is effect as we become more skilled. There are quite a few variables. Not the least of which is that as many paddlers begin to learn torso rotation their entire paddle stroke lengthens. This can really mess up the length of paddle that feels right.

Also, the angle can vary maddeningly as well from high to overly high to mid to low. This also affects paddle length needed.

If this is not enough, over reaching at the beginning of the stroke and late exit also mix up what is the most efficient paddle.

Most paddlers don’t even care about these matter until year 3 or later in their paddling careers. This unfortunately burns in quite a few bad habits which are difficult to transform.

My own sense of this is start with a paddle length that is a bit on the short side while learning. It facilitates many of the paddle skills, it makes learning to brace, scull, roll, and side draw easier, and it pushes the paddler towards a more efficient forward paddle.

Then when the paddler her or himself become motivated to learn a better forward stroke they have an easier time learning to use an even shorter paddle as they really get torso rotation, proper entry and exit, and how to use the whole body.

Paddle sizing
Several years ago I made a video clip that explains the method that I use to size a paddle based on each person and their boat. In reality, the overall length is not the best way to select a paddle as the blade is submerged. Here is the video;