Talk to me about Wing Paddles

I’ve been paddling Euro Paddles forever and I’m in the midst of broadening my horizons with a Greenland Paddle in the mail. I’ve been using the Lendal Storm and it’s the best paddle I’ve ever owned so far. But the Wing Paddle has me kind of confused.

I borrowed my friend’s Epic wing paddle and put it up against my Lendal Storm and I found I could do everything better with the Storm. Obviously, bracing and control is way better but I figured the wing would let me hammer. When I tried to hammer with the wing paddle it fluttered like crazy. I spent a good 30 minutes with it and was glad to stop. I really wasn’t impressed.

So what makes them more efficient to paddle? Are you supposed to be able to put more torque/power down on them than with Euro paddles?

I’ll let the more experienced elaborate

– Last Updated: Apr-20-16 4:39 PM EST –

...but the time I tried one, it was hard to tell a difference until I refocused on form. Then the difference was very significant and afterwards it was easy to lock into the form. But I was using a Werner Camano as my regular paddle. Isn't the Storm an evolution of the Kinetic, a "sort of wing" hybrid?

You need to use a high angle stroke
with it, and if you are rotating properly you’ll go faster then with any other paddle.

Jack L

I use a high angle stroke
And got to borrow an Epic Mid Wing on a paddle once. Immediately noticed a significant difference in my forward stroke. Without any extra effort I got a lot of extra power with each stroke. I was using proper form, leaning forward slightly, rotating torso, enter the water up near my ankles.

Seemed like I was sticking the paddle into Jello the way it grabbed the water.

I think I was at max hull speed without “hammering” my stroke.

I Understand What You’re Experiencing
After Barton won two gold medals at the 1988 Olympics with wings, I rushed out and bought my first Flight Descente wing paddle. Like you, I was dissapointed, for on my first stroke, I immediately capsized and experienced all the things you mentioned and became very frustrated with it. I went back to my flat blades.

But eventually, a video came out: APPOINTMENT IN SEOUL about the 1988 Olympics and featured doubled gold winner, Greg Barton paddling his K-1 with a wing paddle. I watched this video over and over to learn his technique and then try to duplicate it out on the water.

Basically, from observing the video, I tried leading or “carving” out with the top edge of the blade (ie: paddling laterally). This really helped and my capsizes diminished considerably. So I suggest, next time, do try leading with the edge of your wing. Once you master this, you’ll be able (with lots of practice) to implement a parallel stroke as well as a lateral one. Today, you’re lucky, because there are many videos on the internet regarding wing paddle technique. Go check them out.

Regarding power and the ability to put the hammer down, well, that takes practice. However, the old power theory was that as the wing blade “carves out,” it seeks “still water” as opposed to water that’s already moving backwards.

Another power theory was that, with the wing paddle, you’re paddling with the additional help or assistance of “lift,” which is pulling or lifting you forward. So that your paddle blade actually exits ahead of where it entered the water.

That’s what I was figuring…
Just spending more time with it to figure out the best form to use. I’m more curious about figuring it out to see if I’d like it more than my Storm. I’m not a big racer guy but I have placed in both of the races I did last year.

Supposedly the Storm is a hybrid wing paddle but it really felt nothing like the wing paddle I tried. The Storm was actually noticeably lighter than the Epic paddle. I think my buddy liked my paddle better than his :slight_smile:

I also was using a high angle stroke
during my 30 minutes. I felt like the paddle was going through the water much faster than my Storm but I didn’t feel like I was getting up to speed as quickly. I’ll have to give it another go. Not sure I’m any hurry to try and make my Storm obsolete. Paddles ain’t cheap these days…

High Angle Stroke Probably the Problem
Recommend you switch to a low/mid angle stroke like most surfski paddlers employ most of the time. High angle parallel stroke is best for those Olympians who can paddle at a cadence of 3 strokes per second. In moderate water, I use a combination of high and low angle strokes with my wing paddle (Large Onno Wing set @ 201cm length at 81 deg. feather), for trying to adhere to what is a proper or correct stroke is just not comfortable.

Check out this famous paddler, who has won the solo Molokai Channel Race many times using flat/Euro and wing paddles, with his low/mid angle stroke:

ps: I love his low sidewinder stroke, which I emulate all the time out in the open ocean with my wing.

A wing used with the same stroke as a euro paddle is much worse than the euro, it’s not how it’s used. Like trying to use a table knife as a spoon, doesn’t work very well.

The stroke is very different, very high angle and starts at the edge of the boat and ends a ways away from the boat in a diagonal stroke.

You won’t learn it and maximize it in 30 minutes, not hardly. Maybe you’ll pick up the stroke in a few days of paddling and get it perfect in a few months. Takes time to unlearn all the bad habits.

Bill H.

that aligns with what I was told
I was coming from a sea kayaking background but I remember they told me to let the wing do it’s thing, and slide out laterally from the hull during the stroke. Letting it do it’s thing was an apt description because the cross section of the blade encourages it - with a lateral stroke I felt almost no resistance but was moving the boat quickly. Like I said above, once I found it it clicked. I think it was less about high angle and more about what you’re describing.

I’d like to try one again on a fast surfski.

Give it time and learn the technique…
30 minutes is much too short a time to start to analyze a completely different paddle type. Even if you have paddled for years it’s a big change; it’s a bit like trying to drive a manual transmission for the first time and blaming the car when you lurch forward and stall.

I recommend that you enjoy the journey, take it slow and expect a fairly long learning curve.

You need to use a technique suitable for a wing. If you prefer not to visit an instructor, I recommend that you get a copy of “The Forward Stroke” video by Barton and Chalupsky. There’s some great information there.

FYI, when you use the Greenland paddle, it will be similar. Both a Greenland paddle and a wing can feel absolutely horrible at first, until you learn them and the technique that makes them excel.

I love a wing for speed but find it is much more limited than a spoon or Greenland paddle for blended strokes, using both sides of the blade, etc. I prefer a Greenland paddle for general touring and to “play”, but that’s simply my preference.

Greg Stamer

a spoon
Is that slang for a euro paddle, or a nickname for the Storm or Kinetic euro/wing hybrid?

That’s the wild card for me, I don’t know how close to a wing the kinetic feels or behaves.

Spoons, sticks and …
yep, spoon or spoon blade is slang for a “Euro”.

Stick is common slang for Greenland.

I haven’t heard any other slang for a wing, but I often hear a wing described by peers as a “spoon blade on steroids”.

I have a Lendal Kinetic wing and find it an interesting blade, albeit a bit heavy as compared to my wings. Unfortunately it is much too long for me (using my normal Lendal shafts) so I don’t use it very often.


one of you Lendal shafts into an adjustable Greg.

Best Wishes


rotating vs. pulling
A wing is all about torso rotation. Pulling straight and bending your arm as you can do with a euro will make it flutter.

To get close to the right technique, paddle with straight arms. Between the paddle being full submerged and the exit don’t bend your arm or move your shoulder relative to your torso. Get all the blade movement through torso rotation. Ideally your butt should be sliding on the seat.

Initially better speed comes from a more aggressive catch, not so much from pulling harder but getting the blade in the water faster. ie ‘stabbing the water’ Pulling too soon, before the blade is fully submerged is the #1 mistake most people make.

It also helps to get the blade out sooner than a euro as you will scoop lots of water with a late exit. The blade shouldn’t go past your hip.

As others have stated
You need to let the wing paddle do its thing. It’s called a “wing” because it’s a foil, and just like an airplane wing, it provides lift. Once you stab it in the water near your feet (as close to the hull as possible) and you start rotating, keeping your lower arm straight, the wing, your straight arm and your body rotation will all work together to move the blade in an outward direction as you propel the boat forward. You’re not going to bend the elbow until you flick the blade up and out of the water. This should be done by hip level, don’t go back any farther. Then bring that hand up and make the shaft horizontal (parallel to the water). Then you’re ready to stab the water with the opposite blade to start the new stroke.

There are many videos on YouTube that break it all down. Watch and practice and you will find once you get the technique down they really do work as advertised. I find I can go 1/2 mph faster with my Epic small/mid at a relaxed cruise versus a euro paddle (Werner Kalliste) at the same effort.

Barton & Robinson video
on technique using wing paddles.

I don’t use a wing but always learn something watching good paddlers.

please explain “lift” from wing paddle
I have often heard this term applied but never understood it for paddling/kayaking. I can visualize it if the paddle is horizontal and swept/sculled across or through water to provide lift in keeping with 4 forces of flight. I just do not understand how lift is generated when a wing paddle is used in forward stroke motions.

I don’t know that I can explain it
If you’ve ever drawn the blade of a wing paddle very gently through the water, you’ve probably noticed that it automatically pulls outward, away from the boat. It just does it all by itself. That’s the lift the foil is causing. How does that make you go faster? I don’t think I can explain it. Maybe someone else here with knowledge of physics can.

One down side, though, is that wing paddles are less than ideal for things like sculling. You have learn a slightly different technique. If you scull like you would with a euro blade, you could be in for a surprise. You must be careful to hold the paddle firmly when pushing the lower edge of the blade across the water while sculling and not let it “roll” because if you don’t, the blade can suddenly dive and down you go!

Lift &/or thrust

– Last Updated: Apr-25-16 11:07 AM EST –

When a foil section has fluid pass over it, a net force is generated perpendicular to its long axis, pointing away from the convex side.

The foil section on an airplane creates a force that points up and is called lift. There is also a component that points downstream, opposing the motion, which is called drag.

A wing paddle uses a foil section to generate a similar force. The paddle is placed in the water near the hull, then moved laterally outward during the wing stroke. The important part of the stroke is to create flow over the top of the foil section, this creates the net force.

If the paddle is oriented properly, the net force produced points forward, i.e. in the direction of travel. Technically it should be called thrust, as it is propelling the boat, but is called a lift force by most people.

A component of the net force will be directly laterally away from the boat, this is the source of the overturning moment felt during a good wing stroke. If the blade path is modified somewhat, some of that force can be directed forward, increasing propulsion.

The drag force produced on a wing paddle also helps drive the boat, as the paddle is pulled backwards a bit during the stroke. Normal Euro paddles use fully drag-based propulsion, so they are pulled primarily straight back.

A GP and some Euro paddles can be used in a wing-style stroke and will generate thrust. GPs with nice lenticular sections are particularly good at this, as they are effectively symmetrical foils.