-- Last Updated: Nov-24-07 11:09 PM EST --

Is there a difference in certain shapes of paddles, there will be some , but after reading CRUISING SPEEDS on another post, nobody mentioned paddles, or does all the hype not mean a thing? on a long haul, its got to count for something,??

first sentence is kind of hard to read

Please rephrase
The whole paragraph is kinda hard to understand.

I think I get it …
Strictly speaking, some paddles can be more helpful for a paddler in moving a boat along at speed or in a sprint - but the play between paddler and blade is a critical part of that equation. A really large scoop blade that a big hefty guy may find helps him could actually be slower for me because the blade surface is too much for me to get thru the water at a good cadence. A particular wing paddle can work great for someone with a high angle stroke and not provide any particular gain to someone with a different kind of stroke.

In sum, it’s a tough question to answer without adding in the details of the paddler.

Basically there are three types
of kayak paddles:

  1. A Greenland paddle which has a fairly long narrow blade.

    Many paddlers who use Brit style boats or skin on frame boats use them.

    I consider these paddlers purists.

  2. A Euro or touring paddle which the majority of new paddlers start with and many stay with. this is generallly used with a fairly low angle stroke.

  3. A wing paddle which is used if you have the need for speed or are a racer. The blade is shaped like a spoon.

    You use a high angle stroke with it.

    I have all three and for general touring or nature paddling prefer my touring paddle.

    I race a lot and find that for that the wing is a must.

    Others will prefer the use in a different order, but basically that is the three different types.



Wing Paddle Advocate’s Pespective
Many people will say a wing paddle is only for those interested in racing. While every serious racer uses a wing paddle, there are many non-racers who would appreciate the benefits of a wing paddle. A wing paddle will provide a paddler with the following benefits:

Improved Technique

Increased Speed

Increased Range

Increased Stability

Reduced Chance of Injury

Increased Fitness

Technique - A wing paddle will force you to rotate your torso and use the powerful muscles in your abdomen, back and legs. Your horsepower will increase many times over an arm paddler. The basics of the stroke are easy to learn, but the finer details can take years to master. The wing paddle does not tolerate poor technique, and rewards good technique with:

Increased Speed - I found my average paddling speed went from the mid 4 mph range to the low 6’s once I committed to a wing paddle. If you look at drag curves for typical sea kayaks you will see that this equates to 2 - 3 times increase in continuous power. That is 200 - 300% improvement, not the 10% that the critics often say.

Increased Range - Not only is continuous horsepower increased dramaticaly, the large muscle groups are able to maintain this horsepower for a much longer time. If you currently do a typical 2 - 3 hour afternoon paddle of 5 - 7 miles, I expect you could double your range to about 10 - 15 miles with a wing paddle. Plus you will have plenty of energy left in reserve. Longer afternoons will have you doing 20 plus miles without a problem. And you can do this day after day if you want. Imagine how much more you can see with your range doubled or tripled from where you are comfortable now.

Increased Stability - Once you have the correct technique down with the wing paddle, you will find that your stability is coming through the paddle. We are talking huge amounts of stability. The wing paddle is like having outriggers on your kayak. You can adjust your butt in the seat mid-stroke because the blade is so solid in the water. The wing paddle is the reason people can easily paddle skinny surfskis in rough water. In fact most surfskiers prefer rough water despite the lack of stability in their boats. The wing paddle’s stability is the secret to paddling faster, skinnier craft.

Reduced chance of injuries - Because the wing paddle technique does not put strain on the arm muscles, elbows or shoulders, there is little chance of injury due to over-use or strain. It seems that shoulder pain is the most common complaint from paddlers. It may seem counter-intuitive to use a wing paddle that is so solid in the water to reduce shoulder strain, however when used correctly the shoulders only need to lift and lower the paddle. You do not pull or push with the arms, elbows and shoulders, so there is little strain put on these relatively weak parts of the body. But one of the real keys to reducing injuries is to try to get into a lighter skinnier kayak that has less drag. It’s not the paddle that puts strain on joints, it’s the kayak’s drag. The stability that a wing paddle provides allows one to paddle a much skinnier lower-drag kayak, increasing speed and range even further.

Improved Fitness - Using larger muscle groups burns more calories. You will breath more and pump more blood. The wing paddle turns paddling into a fat-burning aerobic activity rather than an arm-burning anerobic slog.

Is it the Paddle or is it Technique? - There are those who will say that it is not the wing paddle, but rather good technique that provides most of these benefits. With the exception of the increased stability benefits, they are mostly correct. However, I just do not see many people with modern or greenland paddles develop the technique that utilizes large muscle groups to their full potential. Many claim to, but then when it comes right down to it, rarely are they paddling with the same technique of a practiced wing paddler. Anyone who has tried a wing paddle, complained about it, and then went right back to their other paddle is a good example of technique that has much room for improvement. It often takes committing to a wing paddle for a couple of months through a variety of conditions before the benefits become apparent. You will know you are there when you go back to your other paddle and it feels like a limp noodle in your hands. You are starting to get there when you feel the drag not coming from the paddle, but rather from the limits of your kayak.

Lets be honest. Most paddlers will have their reasons to never commit to a wing paddle. But if any of the following benefits are appealing, you may want to give a wing an honest try: Improved Technique, Increased Speed, Increased Range, Increased Stability, Reduced Chance of Injury, and Increased Fitness. Just be warned, you will soon be wishing for a lighter, longer, skinnier, faster kayak to mate with your new engine

re wing

– Last Updated: Nov-24-07 11:10 PM EST –

In say a smaller craft using a wing paddle would you feel the kayak zig zag slightly with each stroke due to the higher torque of the blades, is it overkill on a smaller craft?(12 - 13 foot) a case of matching paddle ergonomics to hull design. im getting there,thanks envyabull,

For a rec boat, it would be a waste, but
if a 13 foot long boat was very narrow ; say 21 inches or less and the paddler was a small paddler than it should do it’s job pretty good.

I think a short narrow boat, (built for speed) unfortunately is very hard to find and probably doesn’t exist.

Sure would be nice to see some young people getting into racing at an early age!



It exists

– Last Updated: Nov-25-07 6:46 PM EST –

Jack, there is a child size boat along the lines of what you describe called a Guppy. I think they were designed in Eastern Europe and are now made in South Africa. Unfortunately I don't think they are available in North America, could be an opportunity for an importer. Especially as the RRP in South Africa converts to only US$352.

Wow, thanks for posting this.
I am constantly getting asked questions at the various races from non racing parents that would like to get their kids into the sport.

I had to get my conversion calculator out , but a 13’-7" kayak that is 18 " wide and shaped like that one would be just the ticket for not only a youngster, but a small adult female.

I noticed that they didn’t give the weight, but since it is fiberglass, I’ll bet it is in the low forty pound range or lighter.

Hopefully some of the paddlers that read this forum that have kids will take a look at this kayak.

thanks again,


There’s nothing “purist”…
…about using a Greenland paddle. It a personal preference, as with any other piece of equipment. They work fine with any type of boat and paddlers of many different “stripes” use them.

Confusing exaggerations and distortions

– Last Updated: Nov-26-07 11:39 AM EST –

I assume it was unintentional, but you've done a great job of blurring the lines between skill, technique, fitness and equipment. You've then attributed every benefit to the wing paddle, which is completely unwarranted. This is a one-sided treatment of the issue from a racer's/fitness paddler's point of view, that doesn't take into account the fact that even among this "enthusiast" group here, you're a very small minority. The benefits you claim would never be realized by the overwhelming majority of paddlers here.

The facts are:

- The wing paddle is designed for one thing, moving a kayak in a straight line as fast as possible. If that's your goal in paddling is to go as far as you can as fast as you can, great, the wing is the ideal tool for you. While it is very efficient at doing this one thing, its design dramatically reduces its versatility for other uses.

- Wing paddles are designed for racers and fitness paddlers, not touring paddlers. It lacks durability, versatility and simply doesn't work well for many of the things that touring paddlers do.

- Wing paddles require a specific paddling technique. They do not work well with other techniques. If one wishes to vary one's technique - for example, to engage other muscle groups as a change of pace - the wing paddle isn't a good choice.

As for your specific claims:

- Improved technique - This is relative, as the wing paddles use a specific technique that's optimum for it, but not optimum for other types of paddles or for any purpose other than going as fast as possible. For example, Greenland technique is quite different from wing technique and has subtle differences compared to Euro technique. However, Greenland technique is correct for that paddle and wing technique doesn’t offer any improvement. As I mentioned above, a wing paddle locks you into using only one technique, which I consider a disadvantage for anyone who's not a racer/fitness paddler. A GP can be used with wing technique, but not vice-versa.

- Increased speed - For a paddler of a given level of fitness, it is generally accepted that using a wing paddle and appropriate technique produces an increase in speed of ~6% vs. Euro and Greenland paddles. That's it. The huge increases you claim would only be possible through increased paddler fitness, which has nothing to do with one's choice of paddle. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ENGINE, not the paddle. Moreover, if one is committed to increasing one's fitness, it can be done with ANY paddle and the gains will be proportionately the same.

- Increased range is purely a function of fitness, except that a wing will provide that minor (~6%) increase in speed which will translate into an equally minor increase in distance covered over a given period of time.

- Increased horsepower - Horsepower is PURELY a function of the paddler and has nothing to do with the paddle. A wing paddle is slightly more efficient at transmitting a paddler's horsepower to the water, which is why you go slightly faster.

- Increased stability - How stable a paddler feels in a given boat is a function of skill and balance, not the paddle. If you were to hand a beginner all three types of paddles, I daresay that they would have the hardest time figuring out how to use a wing paddle and probably feel less stable with it because of that. Paddling unstable, racing-style boats will improve a paddler's balance and feel of stability, but that would be true regardless of the type of paddle being used.

- Reduced injuries - This claim flies in the face of everything known about paddles and you're the only person I've ever heard make it. The truth is that the increased bite of a wing paddle INCREASES stress on muscles, ligament and joints, making injuries MORE likely, especially for less fit paddlers. Using a wing paddle effectively REQUIRES a certain level of fitness that the average paddler probably doesn't possess. If one is willing to commit to achieving the level of muscle conditioning and fitness necessary to use a wing paddle effectively enough to derive real benefits from it, that conditioning and fitness would help to reduce the likelihood of injury. The paddle has nothing to do with that as again, it could be achieved with ANY paddle.

- Improved fitness is result of TRAINING only and has ZERO to do with the paddle chosen. While it would be reasonable to say that wing paddle proponents are more likely to be committed to achieving and maintaining a high level of fitness, it's that commitment, NOT the paddle that makes it happen. One can achieve the same level of fitness with ANY paddle and the same level of commitment.

You also seem to be claiming that wing technique is the only one that engages larger muscle groups than the arms and shoulders, which is blatantly untrue. While many paddlers exhibit poor technique such as "arm paddling" and "lilly dipping", it's strictly a lack of skill and has nothing to do with their choice of paddle. They could do the same thing with a wing.

A wing paddle is a specialist's tool (if any paddle is a "purist" tool, it's the wing) and it has significant downsides for the average paddler:

- They're not very rugged and cannot be used for:
---Paddle float rescues
---Bracing the boat when entering or exiting (not great technique, but sometimes necessary)
---Pushing off from shore or obstacles
---Playing in surf or rock gardens

- Wings are not optimal for many common and important techniques such as:
---Sweep strokes
---Rudder strokes
---Extended strokes
---Easy cruising

The bottom line is that while a wing is certainly the top of the heap when it comes to pure speed in the hands of a skilled and fit paddler, it's way too limited in its utility and too demanding of fitness for kayakers who are mainly interested in touring.

The Raven
I think WS makes it and is built for kids and looks like a small touring boat. I thinks it’s 12’ and comes in glass layup.

Nice looking kayak.


Personal preference
Paddle choice has a lot to do with personal preference. My preference in paddles will most likely not be yours. This leaves a lot of room for a large variety of paddles that vary in blade shape (length, width, scoop), overall paddle length, paddle weight, paddle material. Oh, I almost forgot price.

Then there is the usage of the paddle by technique such as low angle or high angle of entry, entry and exit points, feathering angle, canting angle, rolling, sculling, bracing, ruddering.

Then add in is the paddle for day paddling, touring, extended tripping or surfing.

Then add again the dimension of the water, such as wave height, river usage or flat water.

I’m sure I missed a few categories, and all play into the personal paddle choice. Note also that in many instances multiple paddles can handle similar activities. Also some people will even say some paddle should be match to specific paddle hulls.

It’s just sooooo personal, and can be confusing.

Go, try, and find your personal paddle mantra.

A different Guppie - 13’1" x 19" ski…
… aka Knysna 13 Mini Ski

I have more picture somewhere I can forward if anyone’s interested. Email me or cantact Bruce at VentureSport in Boca Raton. He imports these from SA.

… something like the KayakPro Jet might work well for pre-teen/teens. Not tiny, but smaller than a lot and light. Works well for small to mid sized adults so could make a nice shared/family fitness kayak.

I meant the term as a compliment
and I’ll stand by it.

I think you read sarcism into it, and by no means did I intend it that way.

I have friends that paddle with greenlands.



sounds like you hate the wing !

I disliked it when I first tried it, but now it can do everything that my Euro did and more.

I dislike the greenland, but don’t tear it apart.

I think the original poster was talking about speed.



Guppy is here…
A friend just bought one from Venture Sports… I haven’t seen it though.

I’ve only seen one on the water but it appeared to be built like a racing kayak so I would guess more like 20 pounds. The child paddling it also had a miniature wing paddle so would have an opportunity to learn good technique.

Here are a couple more pictures of one