Werner Ikelos/Cyprus control hand

Have both the Ikelos and Cyprus in a 215. Started with the Cyprus and it was good after not being in the water for 2 weeks, then went to the Ikelos, boy does that paddle grab a lot of water!

Felt a little strain in my right inner elbow so decided to try switching my control hand from right to left, easy transition and eliminated the strain. Also realized how much more I was using my shoulder on the control side. Will switch regularly on long paddels from now on.

What I also noticed was that if I opened my right hand fingers (i.e., striaghtened them out) when pushing the shaft with the right hand and pulling with the left hand, it really reduced the tension I put on my right control elbow. I always open the fingers with my non-control left hand when pushing the shaft. And have never had the left elbow feel strained.

wet hand is control hand
Most coaches I’ve worked with the last few years stress that your wet (blade) hand is your control hand.

Opening your hand, as you noted, and keeping a light grip help reduce strain.

As above

– Last Updated: Mar-21-08 6:38 AM EST –

Which means that you ALWAYS have the fingers of one hand open or at least loose as the other end of the paddle is coming back, it doesn't just happen on one side.

Just went thru this on another thread, but I am too challenged by the hour to remember which one it was. Lose the one sided control hand idea - yeah it's still around but haven't encountered a coach who actually teaches that way in a while.
The old idea of a beeeg feather on the paddle is also moving away in sea kayaking, which is something that was associated with the one-sided control hand idea.

As you noticed, thinking about it one-sided sometimes encourages that too much work be put in the wrong place, like your shoulder rather than your larger torso muscles.

The wet control hand concept comes even more into play with things like hanging draws, cross bow rudders and stern rudders, not to mention sculling.

Great observation!


Virginia Sea Kayak Center

I went thru the same thing Beowolf
I am really against having one control hand all the time and a dominant side during paddling.

It wasn’t until I switched the blade angle around from ‘right handed’ to ‘left handed’ that I realized I was using my right hand as the control hand on my forward stroke. Fortunately it is pretty easy to correct - as you found out. You don’t have to switch blade angles around to make sure you are using both hands equally. Just switch the angle and pay attention to how both hands feel when they are controlling the blade moving through the water. Remember that feeling, then make sure you have that feeling no matter what the angle you set your blades.

Like a lot of people I had trouble bracing when I switched blade angles. To get over that I started thinking of the paddle as 2 halves. All I had to do was make sure the wet hand had the wet blade in the correct position for a brace. After a bit of practice while concentrating on the feeling I was able to quickly and effective brace on either side no matter what the blade angle.

It seems simple but it was an ‘AH-HA’ moment for me.

not sure i understand
so if your left blade is offset by say, 70 degrees, and you want to do a bow rudder on the left side, which requires an open face on the left blade, are you saying the right hand/wrist, does not have to rotate the shaft in the left hand (which is kept loose as the shaft rotates) just after a propulsion stroke on the right side? the blade orientation through the forward stroke on the right, is about 70 degrees slicing through the air, and it has to come around to flat, then a bit more to ‘open’ to draw water at the bow. if this were to be done purely with the left hand, (wet hand control) the hand would have to crank way over to do that rotation itself, if it’s not the right hand doing it during the recovery from the stroke on that side. so i’m not sure how the right hand does not play a major role, in the blade angle on the left, by cocking the right wrist back by the same degree of the offset.

first I don’t use 70 degree angles-ouch!
in your example there would be a point where the control hand switches from the right to the left. It would happen somewhere between the sweep stroke on the right (to initiate the turn) and planting the blade for the bow rudder on the left.

To clarify the ‘control’ hand doesn’t do all of the work. For me it initiates the movements and ‘leads’ the way for the ‘non-control’ hand.

I will play around with this today and let you know what I figure out using your example.

control hand is the
is the one that has the firm grip on the paddle during the stroke allowing you to control the blade. this is the hand that is “wet” and closest to the water…the other hand is then relaxing it’s grip on the loom.

After reading your comments:

“…eliminated the strain. Also realized how much more I was using my shoulder on the control side.”

I can’t believe you still want to use a feathered paddle at all! You pretty much proved what I’ve been saying about feathered paddles all along. Isn’t it now very obvious that you don’t do a symmetrical stroke on both sides while using a feathered paddle? Isn’t also obvious that your body pays the price for a very minimal reduction of wind resistance on the upper blade? Question: How much (what angle) do you feather your paddle?

You also mentioned being able to relax the fingers of one hand and that “…it really reduced the tension I put on my right control elbow.” If you paddle unfeathered, it will be much easier to alternately relax both hands while paddling.

Pedro Almeida

I found some research
which states…

“This information demonstrates that while differences in bilateral comparison between

limbs in flatwater kayakers have been shown, no difference was found in this set of expert

whitewater kayakers while paddling on a kayak ergometer.”

Here is the abstract with a link to the article at the bottom.


The paper is recent but it does use terms and definitions which I think many would agree are outdated.

In constant winds (10-15 knots and up)

– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 9:07 PM EST –

Pedro, with an Ikleos (710 cm2) you really need to feather the paddle. Otherwise the wind will blow it, and as a result the blade in the water, around causing flutter. Note that the Ikelos and Cyprus are "high angle" paddles and so are really exposed to the wind. I normally use 60 degree feather, but will go to 90 degrees in winds above 15 knots.

Now without wind you could argue that feathering is not needed, BUT I really do an arobic workout and feathering allows me to push the blade through the "still air" easier.