Paddle Length Question ??

Hi Guys I need some advice. I’m female, 65years old 5’3" and 160 lbs. I’ve been kayaking aprox 12 years. The 1st 2 ww at NOC then recreation and ocean.

I live on the water so I’ve kept all of my boats for family and friends to use. I have an older Necky Looksha Sport, A Feathercraft K-Lite Plus, A Necky Gannet II tandem and a Wilderness Systems Epic.

From time to time I use each of the boats depending on whose paddling with me. For each of these boats I have always used my 230cm carbon fiber touring paddle.

After reading all of the messages on paddle length on the post 230 vs 240 and consulting Epic paddles it appears that my paddle length should be around 210cm.

Years ago I took private lessons from a Canadian kayak instructor he recommended this length. He taught me to rotate the torso and to use a long low angle stroke going from the toe to the hip.

I’ve gone on 2 week trips and I’ve never had a problem keeping up with the group. After reading all of the info posted here I tried using a 220cm paddle, it was awful. Felt much too short, I couldn’t

get a good stroke, the paddle kept hitting the sides of the boat and the boat barely moved.

Have I handicapped myself by using a 230cm paddle? Do I just continue with it? Is it possible that it will become more difficult to use as I get older? Any advice will be appreciated.


– Last Updated: Feb-20-09 4:27 PM EST –

Current thinking would indicate a 210. If you have been paddling for years with a 230, a notably shorter paddle will initially feel uncomfortable.

It is likely if you were to take a forward stroke class these days, the instructor would modify your stroke to be shorter and more vertical.

I’m just an inch taller

– Last Updated: Feb-19-09 5:48 PM EST –

When we got into it, the recommended length for me was usually 215 to 220. And at this point I am paddling around 210 for the sea kayak. Given my arm length and torso height, I suspect I shouldn't go shorter. But the 220 is waaay too long against current forward stroke theory.

You do have a mix of boats in there and, if you are proportionally short-torsoed and/or short-armed, may need to incorporate some variety in length. But it still doesn't get you nearly to 230 cm. One of the paddles that allows you to adjust 5 to 10 cm off of the length for your skinniest boat should be plenty.

The the rotation is still there but current thought is to go to a high angle stroke. But this tends to ask for more rotation, hence your problem with hitting the side of the boat. Odds are your rotation was not enough for the shorter length and you probably were trying to keep the same low angle. No can do - gotta lift that. Paddling like this will shave an inch off your waist line each spring though - not a bad result.

The one thing that might need to be tweaked is again about your fleet. In order to paddle higher angle, you blade needs to be able to enter and exit the water fairly close to the side of the boat. If you are short and the boat is wide/high... you see the problem.

I'd suggest that you look around for someone who teaches forward stroke a la the current bigger names like Ben Lawry, Greg Barton etc. You'll find out very quickly if your paddle is too long, because the blade will sink so deep that you are pulling lots of water.

It doesn’t appear to be broke
so don’t worry too much about fixing it…


You took the words right out of my fingers.

I second…
Jim’s opinion. If you have no shoulder or other pain while using the 230 and are pleased with your cruising speed, then I can’t see a reason for going short. After all, you’re the one paddling the boat. Not the guy who wrote the “paddle size guide.”

Go with what feels good.


Only reason to consider a change is…
the question about whether an injury could be in the future on the present course.

One argument would be that after paddling 12 yrs to the age of 65 without such trouble, it seems unlikely that this is any near concern. The opposing argument would be that, at the age of 65, continuing to drag thru added water due to the length could be more of a risk than for someone younger. Both arguments will find adherents.

Hence my suggestion about taking a course in the current all the rage high angle stroke, to at least understand it. Then the OPer would be able to make a better informed decision about whether it is worth considering a change.

I’m 6’ 5", and my shoulders are much
higher above the water in my Looksha Sport, but I am totally comfortable with a 206 cm crank shaft whitewater paddle.

But it depends on your preferred style. I am a very high-angle paddler. You may be better off, with your style, with a 215 or maybe a 210.

are wings the only ones with adjustment in length???

I play with length all the time - given diff boats/conditions…

epic “length-lock” is the hizzy if ya looking for that finishing touch on paddle performance…

Oscar tells us the same thing- length varies with conditions…

oh, JMOO…

There are a few adjustable
length paddles including my ONNO touring paddle that goes from 220cm to 235cm and you can lock in any feather angle to boot.