The Single Wing

I’m not sure I completely understand the physics of a double bladed wing paddle. However, I read that the blades are cupped and the travel of the stroke pull is away from the keel line.

I’ve also read that the same “wing lift” hydrodynamics are used in the propulsion of rear mounted oars on dingies.

For those familiar with both wing paddles and single blade canoeing, I was wondering if there is a possible wing paddle effect analog for single blading. After all, there are a variety of single paddles with convex back faces and concave power faces, and you can slice a single blade pull in a variety of ways.

If rudders are required to optimize the wing lift effect, there are single blade canoes with rudders – mainly, outrigger canoes.

Sometimes I pop the end of my single blade stroke out of the water with a sort of sideways slice. It feels neat, but perhaps I’m just imagining that it’s having any sort of positive effect on propulsive efficiency.

ive pondered
This many times.

Seems the issue would be switching sides.

Ryan L.

Ok, assume switching sides or a rudder
It’s probably helpful to separate out the issue of course correction from the issue of wing-enhanced propulsion, if possible.

On the other hand, maybe wing propulsion is somehow intimately bound up with course correction, and that you can’t get wing lift propulsion with a blade if you have to correct with the blade.

However, there are many forms of correction – e.g., at the catch, during the pull, at the end, and during an in-water recovery. There is even the uncorrected Foster-Wilson inside circle forward stroke. Are they all inconsistent with wing performance?

I don’t know. But to eliminate correction as an inhibitor, we can assume switching or a rudder.

course correction
Paddling unruddered with a wing is fine. Not ideal imo, but fine.

I guess I was referring to the fact that a wing type blade is asymmetrical so switching sides would be impossible.

Ryan L.

Virtually all Euros are asymmetrical now
Is the asymmetry necessary for the wing effect?

Have you tried a wing?

– Last Updated: Jul-22-12 6:53 PM EST –

I suspect you have not or you wouldn't be asking. The "asymetry" is such that, if you only have a half wing (one blade) you can realistically only use it on one side of the canoe. On the other it won't work well due to its shaape being optimized for a swing out to one side only.

If you could swap the two halves of the paddle and use thr right hlaf on the right and the left half on the left, you would be OK. But then, you might just get the whole paddle...

Edit: I guess if one makes a symetrical wing, you could use it in a switch scenario on both sides. But I suspect it will not be as efficient as an asymetrically shaped blade. Also, the wing stroke is quite different-not you really have to rotate and swing as opposed to crunch as seems to be the case with single baded canoe stroke...

Airplane wing
Would an airplane fly if you put the wing on facing backwards? Same principle.


No, I haven’t. Correction. Rudders.

– Last Updated: Jul-22-12 8:10 PM EST –

No, I haven't used a wing and admitted in the OP that I don't fully understand the physics.

I realize the wing blade has asymmetry, but that asymmetry must be something different from the top/bottom blade asymmetry of a non-wing Euro.

So far, I will accept that the the wing asymmetry will not allow side switching paddling. So I therefore will stay on one side of the canoe with my single wing paddle.

Still, the question remains as to whether I can get the propulsive wing benefit if I:

(1) correct my single-sided stroke using traditional techniques;

(2) paddle uncorrected with a Foster-Wilson inside circle forward stroke; or

(3) paddle uncorrected by using a rudder.

My opinion
1) No

2) Don’t know what this stroke is but I would guess no as it would prevent a proper wing stroke.

3) Yes but the increased drag of the rudder correction may be greater than the advantage of the wing paddle. Maybe an asymmetric hull could counter the turning effect of the wing paddle without too much drag?

Rudder drag
My personal belief is that rudders cause less drag than any single blade correction does. I certainly can paddle my outrigger canoe much faster with the rudder than I can without the rudder using correction strokes.

Racing kayaks have rudders. I assume that’s because the rudder drag is less than the minor yaw corrections that even a double blader has to employ.

The Foster-Wilson stroke begins by inducing a carve on a heeled hull. Once the carve is established, the canoe can be propelled with uncorrected forward strokes on one side only. However, the canoe is not exactly going in a straight line. It is travelling along the circumference of a very large diameter circle. Hence, it has to be kicked over onto the proper heading now and again.

Question: wing stroke sweep component
We really need an experiment, but I’d like to try to understand the single wing question analytically.

It would help me understand the possible conflict between wing technique and single stick corrections if I knew the answer to this question:

For paddles of the same length, held at the same angle and propelled with the same force, does a proper forward stroke with a wing paddle have more, less or the same sweep (turning) component as a proper forward stroke with a non-wing paddle?

In answering, I’d prefer the angle to be as high as possible to mirror as closely as possible a single blade canoe paddle.

Rudderless Outriggers
Check out these rudderless outriggers:

Scroll down to to bottom and watch “Best Te Aito 2008.”

Check out the double bend wide blade paddles (no camber needed).

Rudderless is the traditional way to paddle outrigger.

Ho Glenn, we sooo need to talk !
FWIW, I’m working on the ragged, cutting edge of this stuff.

Also glad Clyde is here too …

we need single blades pat!

More turning, I think …
“For paddles of the same length, held at the same angle and propelled with the same force, does a proper forward stroke with a wing paddle have more, less or the same sweep (turning) component as a proper forward stroke with a non-wing paddle?”

With a canoe paddle your stroke trajectory is very close to the hull with minimum turning caused due to this. With a wing, you start close, then move away, so there is more turning, I would think.

Not enough to matter if you have a rudder though. The single most obvious issue is switching sides… Maybe Pat from ONNO has something up his sleeve on this, but we have yet to see if anything will materialize…

My wings have considerably more “bite” than similarly sized non-wing paddles and I feel there is a definite benefit in using them over non-wing for speed. I’ve paddled my surfski with only half wing and it works very well on the “right” side. I’ll have to try a half-wing again next time I’m out with the ski and compare to my outrigger paddle to see if I notice any difference in speed or efficiency with the very different strokes the two require…

The quick and dirty experiment …
… would be for an experienced wing kayaker simply to break down a wing paddle in half and use it as a single blade. It would help if he or she could pop some sort of temporary T-grip in the shaft, but the half blade could be held without a grip, Indian style.

The thing is, this experimenter-paddler would also have to be very adept at all forms of single blade correction because the wing may work better with some forms of correction than with others. By these, I mean:

– correction at the catch (bow draw forward stroke)

– correction during the pull (pitch stroke)

– correction at exit (rudder-goon, J-stroke)

– correction at both catch and exit (C-stroke)

– correction during full or partial in-water recovery (Canadian stroke, Florida stroke, palm-rolled Indian stroke)

– uncorrected Foster-Wilson inside circle stroke

Double blade wing paddles took off in both racing and recreational paddling with the only empirical proof being a 2% increase in the times of the Swedish national team. I’m almost shocked at how blasé single blade canoeists have been to this dramatic performance development in double blade land.

Perhaps this is consistent with the precipitous decline in the relative popularity of single blade canoeing and the concomitant atrophy of interest in sophisticated single blade skills.

Been There, Done That

– Last Updated: Jul-23-12 6:03 PM EST –

Since 1988, when I bought my first wing paddle. Canoe paddlers response has been the dihedral and the double dimple canoe paddles. My doctor swears by his "puka" (holes) strategically placed on the single canoe blade paddle. Many surfski paddlers have tried their two piece wings (separately and whole) on their oc-1's and come to the same conclusion: no substitute for conventional single flat blade.

In fact, most single blade outrigger paddlers prefer today, what Gillespie invented over 30 years ago: the double bend shaft and the curved tip at the end of the blade.

ps: forgot to say that using half of my 2 piece wing paddle really sucks when paddling my 20+ years old monohull Reverie. A pitched stroke will work somewhat when using the right blade for the left or the left for the right.

Olympic High Knee Paddlers
Only paddle on One Side. They don’t switch sides. If there was any competitive advantage to using a wing paddle, they would of switched to them immediately, like the Olympic sprint kayakers did.

Why Bother with a Wing?
When you can use a single blade as a foil?

Check out these rudderless paddlers:

For them rough or flat water doesn’t matter.

Do they turn?
They were only going straight in the video.