With 3’ short period waves still rolling in this AM, I was able to squeeze in another long boat surf session. Glad I did, as I was able to work on some of the carve control issues I noticed/experienced yesterday in reacquainting myself with long boat surfing. Also, added on my time using and getting familiar with the Aukaneck GP.
So, I was able to get more grab (catch) with the Aukaneck blades today. I realized I was paddling it as I would my Euro paddles and thus not maximizing the full length of the Aukaneck blade. When I started digging in the Aukaneck blade up to my hand grip, I was getting more bite and acceleration than yesterday. Nevertheless, the Aukaneck still doesn’t give the same grab/catch as my Euro paddles. While more than “traditional” skinny GPs, the Aukaneck simply doesn’t have the same blade surface area as Euro paddles.
While the Aukaneck provides more surface than the traditional sized GPs, it comes at a compromise – at least for those with smaller hands like me. The compromise is that I can’t grip the Aukaneck at blade end for the extended stroke or sweep techniques that is often cited as “advantages” for the traditional GPs.
Cedar GP grip:
For those who rely (perhaps too much) on the length and buoyancy of the traditional GP to leverage their roll, you may encouter some difficulties. This includes not being able to slide your inboard hand all the way to the end of the Aukaneck blade and also for the relatively less buoyancy of the Aukaneck paddle. The Aukaneck blade has less cross section than the Akiak and even less so than my hand carved cedar GP. The Aukaneck blade edge at the tip is less than an 1/8" and feels (uncomfortably) sharp to the hand grip (like one would feel with a carbon Euro blade). The Akiak blade edge is a rounded 1/8" and feels more comfortable than the Aukaneck, but less so than my cedar GP with has a rounded 1/4" edge at the tip. Of course, the “sharper” edge and wide rblade of the Aukaneck are what make it feel a bit more familar to paddlers used to Euro paddles.
As for the possible usage of the Aukaneck in WW, especially to help with increasing rolling reliability with an extended paddle sweep, I think it’s a compromised approach. A lot of class II plus ww is through technical boulder studded runs. An extended paddle sweep may not be possible because of rocky obstructions. In my experience with WW capsizes, unlike surfing capsizes, I often found myself upside down with boat pushed against a boulder. Best to have a roll on both sides and to be able do it with a regular grip. In these situations, good body mechanics are more important and reliable than the extended leverage of a paddle. Just my opinion/experience.