Paddle power curves

What does it mean?

– Last Updated: Sep-20-08 11:42 AM EST –

The x and y axis of the graph are not labled. Since the graph for the greenland paddle is nearly symetrical, I'm guess the graph shows applied force vs position within the stroke, but guessing shouldn't be needed.

Looking at the graph it seems to me that the pwoer stroke on the wing is at the entry and quickly drops off. Based on that I’d assume a shorter stroke gives the most power.


Where did the data come from and how measured?

I’m curious also
Looks interesting - is it numerical data? Measured or simulated? What are the axes? Inquiring minds want to know…

Axes, values, etc.
Vertical = Force

Horizontal = Time

Both values are relative, not absolute. Neither should be taken in a fixed numerical sense, but purely in a comparative/generalized way.

“Force” is relative to same paddler using different paddles, and at a moderate or better pace - and assumes a correctly sized paddle.

Actual “time” for a stroke may vary between types - and while I could generalize those to show this better - it’s not the same for everyone - and also can be varied at will. The differences in this can also be inferred from where the curves for each peak.

I know this lack of numerical values, derived from some mechanized test procedure, will flummox the Engineers. They’ll likely consider it worthless/meaningless without that - but this is not a chart in some engineering paper.

It’s a simple visualization tool for paddlers for whom numbers would be useless, confusing, or misinterpreted anyway. About as rigorous as looking at the paddles side by side.

I think it may be more useful for comparisons just seeing two curves at a time. I can provide those images for any pair someone wants to see.

Main takeaways being:

Wing has quickest catch, more peak power, power applied as soon as blade is buried, and most of the power in the front of the stroke.

Euro is similar but detuned with a slightly softer catch (still quick/clean), a bit less peak power. Power also being applied as soon as blade is buried, and most of the power in the front of the stroke. Gives up a little speed/is a little easier on the body and less demanding of technique than the wing (though the curve assumes good technique with decent rotation - more high angle than low for folks that look at it that way). This power on fast/upfront (but less demanding of specific stroke than wing) should make it pretty clear why this type is preferred for WW and surf too.

Greenland has a longer catch with power building all the way through the catch to the peak, and trailing off more gradually after. Peaks lower than wing, maybe slightly lower that Euro, but curve is longer (still getting power mid stroke and beyond) and this more than makes up for the Euro’s head start. The smoother curve should give some clues as to why so many GP users feel they are easier on the joints and muscles, while being at no disadvantage for touring.

The Aleutian has very similar catch to Greenland. Due to longer loom and some subtle stroke/technique differences, it hold the peak longer. Finish also similar to GP. The subtle difference create a very powerful stable paddle, with total area of curve rivaling the Wing, though lower peak will mean it’s still going to have a lower top end. Over long distance though, could be interesting…

The Hybrid (“Woodwing” as BB call his) is also sort of a detuned wing curve. Very similar to Euro curve actually. It also has a less aggressive catch (very slightly more aggressive start than a Euro), and power trails off a bit slower (some Aleut DNA in these).

All of these assume they are being used with appropriate/optimal techniques (and tricks) for each - and technique has as much or more to do with the power application as the paddles. Might look at these as being technique curves as much as anything (though using different techniques with different paddles, or blends thereof, won’t yield optimal curves - but likely some reasonably functional hybrid curves, great for variety on water).

made my head hurt
but it fits

(at least as well as my befuddled brain cares to figure it out)


works for me
Hey, I’m an engineer, but I love a graph with no numbers. Most of the most important points can be made without numbers, but with appropriate arm waving (I consider arm waving to be a good thing).

I think the plots are quite useful - I plan to ponder them for a while. There’s a different interpretation depending on whether the horizontal axis is called time or paddle displacement, have to think about that one a little. Thanks for the food, for thought, that is.

Well, that clears one thing up for me
I always hear people talk about how the Greenland paddle is easier on the joints, and to me that means “slippage” in the water, so I never understood how it could also be called “efficient”. However, the shape of the curves, and your nice explanation, shows how over the course of the stroke, you come out with nearly the same power output (which would be area under the curve, I believe) in spite of having a paddle that grabs the water less apruptly compared to a Euro blade. The curve also makes sense based on the shape of a Euro versus a Greenland, but it’s not something I would have thought about without the graph. Interesting!

Hybrid and Aleutian
What are hybrid and Aleutian paddles? Not familiar with these.

Euro vs GP
Just showing those two. What you see is the reason I drew these up. Glad they make sense in that way.

Differences are definitely not “slippage” - as paddle blades move very little through the water at speed other than tip travel differences while pivoting. Slippage (other than when towing, or tethered) would indicate poor technique and/or very poor paddle sizing. (again, curves assume a fairly optimal technique specific enough to each paddle to optimize their efficiency).

IF you can’t win them with your wisdom
Baffle them with your bullshit.

So these are just curves drawn up to express your personal faith in time and power of different paddle designs?

How are you representing differences in cadence? For example, my GP would spend less time in the water than my Euro for a single stroke. Your graph makes it look like they all have the same duration.

Help me out…

…I got a late start and paddled 9.5 hours today with an AquaBound Manta Ray 230cm on a shallow river. Did I waste energy?

Paddlin’ on



– Last Updated: Sep-22-08 9:15 AM EST –

How was data collected, and what was it? Without the methods, perimeters and numbers, this is nothing beyond conjecture as a discussion starter.

I agree with Charlie
Anyone can draw a simple curve based on supposition. The method of data collection is key.


230 is too long. You have tendonitous, you just don’t know it yet. (smiley)

Dedicated GP guy?

– Last Updated: Sep-21-08 3:19 AM EST –

Now there's some wishful guessing!

And so it starts
One guy tries to figures some stuff out and the inquisition rolls in, guillotine and rack set up, moms bring their babies to watch the execution.

pass the popcorn.


Depends on what you’re doing.
This isn’t meant to prove anything, just offering a visualization/discussion tool.

It’s easy to trash or dismiss anything. What numbers would you want? What methodology? To what end? If you know all that, knock yourself out and share the results when you’re done. There are some curves similar to this for the wing out therewhere forces were measured, methodologly given, etc. Start there.

Numbers would be of little value (pun intended) for thes given the intent and the huge variability of paddlers and gear. Still, there are general differences between paddle types and their respective techniques. Each curve, while maybe not up to rigorous scientific scrutiny, can still do a lot to replace a lot of confusing text when trying to relate these differences.

It’s a communication shortcut, not a dissection or dissertation.

I’m interested in opinions from those it makes some sense for, and can comment on the curves themselves. Folks who can relate and/or debate them -for what they are - not dismiss it out of hand for not being what they want it to be (or even offering what that might be).

This sort of reaction is expected, as well as a bit of confusion, and certainly a lot of disinterest. What little interest there might be in something like this would mostly involve the old GP vs Euro debate stuff (which often largely missed the point). Most Wing folks could care less about other types. Few paddlers have interest in Aleut or other lesser known types. Even fewer have many miles on 3 or more types.