paddle switch pleasure

Lately I have been switching paddles during my 2 to 3 hour exercise paddles. For instance, I did an out and back 5 miler with my 88" Novorca GP, took a ten minute break, then repeated it with my Onno wing set at 208. Another day I did it again but in the opposite order. I also bring my 220 Kalliste into the mix. I generally mount my GPS when I do this.

  1. I get a very good workout because the second paddle uses different muscles.
  2. I get a new feel for the stroke differences by switching. And it improves my stroke with both paddles.
  3. I go through a bumpy area with both so the braces are different, and I improve with both.
  4. I learn things about each paddle that I did not realize, despite years of use.
  5. No trouble at all shifting gears from one to the other.

I’ve been switching recently, also, but
between kayak paddle and bent shaft canoe paddle, whether I’m in a solo canoe or kayak. It’s nice to use the different muscle groups.

Long use of just one paddle can allow
little variances to creep in, plus what we psychologists call “reactive inhibition.” Switching to another paddle that requires a little different approach, and that gives a different “feel,” can mean that your alternate stroke is working efficiently.

When cruising my 15’ whitewater boat on easy rivers, I switch between a 61" Mitchell slalom with a curved blade, and a 60.5" homemade 5 degree bent shaft with a flat blade. Not much difference in style, but enough difference in feel to remove some inefficiencies.

Switching paddles is one of the most …
… rewarding aspects of the sport.

A paddle should be thought of, not as a mechanistic tool of propulsion, but as an artistic instrument of motion pleasure.

Different shapes, lengths, materials and weights of paddles contribute to an eclectic menu of ever changing stimulation for one’s muscles, skeleton and the ancient pleasure centers of one’s lizard brain.

I always take at least two very different paddles on a canoe outing. On day trips, I may take as many as four.

This variation in paddle type should be accompanied by the pleasures of changing to very different paddling styles. For canoeists, that would include frequent changes from kneel paddling to sit paddling to one-leg extended paddling – each with different types of paddles. Also, one should change sides and become ambidextrously proficient.

If all you do is go kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk with the same tool every time, I think you’re missing a significant amount of paddling aesthetics as well as musculo-skeletal exercise benefits.

When I learned that D&K Hearn play
cello, I thought of gutting a racing c-1 and stringing it as a bass.

Getting a double blade soon

Another aesthetic.

Well put.
Glenn, beautifully stated. I could not agree more.

BTW, for a very occasional canoe paddler, would you recommend a bent shaft for a week trip to the Boundary Waters? I have never tried one and would be committed to it for the entire trip.

Yes and Also Injury Prevention
Increasing the proprioceptive demands on all my soft tissue and joints, with different paddles, enables me to paddle injury free (so far). You never know when paddling conditions change, but your brain has the experience to respond and send the proper signals to handle them w/o strain or injury.

Recommend bent shaft? Absolutely!
I certainly recommend bent shafts for lake paddling, no matter whether you are a sitting paddler or kneeling paddler. I think they are the superior instrument for straight ahead distance paddling, and have been using them since getting my first flatwater solo canoe in 1984.

I recently have gone all ZRE carbon for my tripping/portaging paddles – a 48.5" bent shaft that I’ve had for several years, and a 57" straight shaft that I just got this season. This combo takes me through anything from swamps to lakes to real whitewater, for a total weight of 25 oz.

I kneel in my CanAm canoes about 95% of the time. On a recent six day paddle and portage trip through the Adirondacks, I found myself using the bent shaft about 90% of the time and the balance with the straight shaft, usually on the twisty side streams or trying to counteract stiff winds with big sweep strokes or rudders.